In an exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace, Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between. And in other news, teen activists won’t rest until the Girl Scouts ensure its cookies are deforestation-free.
This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.
21 May 2014 | Indonesia’s peat forests are a climate change ‘line in the sand.’ The country’s 22 million hectares of peat contain an estimated 200 billion tonnes of carbon – a third of Earth’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ through 2050 if we are to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Through a $1 billion REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) agreement with Norway in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono imposed a two-year moratorium on the palm oil concessions that have turned one of the largest carbon sinks in the world into a carbon source.
That moratorium has now been extended through 2015, but it doesn’t affect concessions already in place before it was signed, leaving millions of hectares of forest slated for conversion to palm oil. Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, is tasked with preventing this climate nightmare. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace’s Steve Zwick, Prasetyo talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between.
“We’ve spent 50 years developing this economy, and if we simply stop producing palm oil, we will be taking a massive economic hit, and production will just go elsewhere,” Pratseyo explained. “So we have to engineer a land-swap. This means identifying degraded land that could be used for palm oil and trying to see if there is a way to persuade the people who have palm-oil concessions to switch over.”
Zwick describes such a land swap as “a task comparable to asking the corn farmers of the American Midwest to move their crops en masse to the apple orchards of the Northeast.” Pratseyo recognizes that it won’t be easy, but he sees REDD+ as an essential tool for rebalancing the economic equation to make standing forests more valuable. He advocates for incorporating site-specific reference levels into a national strategy, and for taking the time to do multi-stakeholder consultation, even if it’s “messy.” When asked which complexities on the ground surprised him most, Pratseyo had an interesting answer:
“We knew that we’d have a lot of issues with tenure. That’s a problem we inherited from the Dutch, and then we made worse ourselves. So, we knew that, but the biggest surprise was that our institutions were not prepared for doing what needs to be done to make REDD+ work. But then we also found this benefit: that the reforms we needed to make for REDD+ were reforms that would have knock-on benefits across the agriculture sector. So, we’re using REDD+ to align our institutions and straighten out all of our tenure issues,” he said.
The interview, available here, is worth reading in full.
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