Without Forest Policy Reform, Indonesia Won’t Reach Emissions Reduction Goal

park rangers check camera trap in North Sumatra's Batang Gadis National Park, Indonesia

Park rangers check a camera trap they have set up in North Sumatra’s Batang Gadis National Park to monitor wildlife. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of CO₂ through deforestation; much of this clearing is done illegally. (© Conservation International/photo by Tory Read)

When Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took office last October, hopes were high within the environmental community that he would take crucial actions to curb deforestation in his tropical country. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of CO₂ through deforestation; much of this clearing is done illegally.

So far, there are some positive signs. President Widodo has already voiced his intention to crack down on illegal forest clearing. He’s also spoken up for the value of peatlands, which store large amounts of carbon and can be used for sustainable agriculture by local communities.

This week, a study led by the Center for Global Development (together with colleagues from CI, World Resources Institute, Duke University, the University of Maryland and the Woods Hole Research Center) shared important data on one of the forest policies of President Widodo’s predecessor — insight that we hope the new president will keep in mind going forward.

Lead author Dr. Jonah Busch (formerly with CI, now with the Center for Global Development) explains in a CGD blog post:

“Indonesia’s flagship forest policy — a moratorium on new licenses to log or clear rainforests that started in 2011 — has lowered the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation by an estimated 1.0-2.5 percent over four years. But unless the moratorium policy is significantly strengthened Indonesia is poised to fall far short of its national climate target of a 26-41 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.  That’s because the new licenses that were the focus of the moratorium policy were responsible for only 15 percent of Indonesia’s emissions from deforestation from 2000-2010. The moratorium policy excluded the remaining 85 percent of emissions, most of which came from deforestation in areas with pre-existing licenses, or from unlicensed deforestation.”

Read Jonah’s full post.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature. 

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