Indonesia's Rainforests Need Unique Care: FAO


MARCH 23, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia is experiencing some of the highest annual forest losses globally, with deforestation rates of about 680,000 hectare per year. Land clearing and fires, especially on peatlands, has led to high rates of loss of biodiversity and globally significant levels of carbon emissions, currently the third highest in the world, an official at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said over the weekend.

On this year's International Day of Forests, which fell on Saturday, the world once again drew attention to the alarming situation of deforestation and forest degradation.

In Indonesia, forests cover half of the country's land surface, making it one of the most important tropical forest countries in the world, and contributing significantly to the world's supply of oxygen.

Indonesia's forests also play a critical role in the country's resilience to climate change.

"It is impossible to win the battle against climate change without doubling our efforts to reduce deforestation in Indonesia," FAO representative Mark Smulders said in a statement.

The Indonesia government's 2009 pledge, to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent unilaterally and by 41 percent with international support by 2020, was reaffirmed this week in a meeting between Environment and Forestry Ministry officials and representatives of the international development community.

Deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia is rooted in various intertwined challenges, including forest encroachment and occupation, fires, shifting cultivation, illegal logging, illegal trading of forest products, and poverty, the statement said.

Therefore, Smulders said, a comprehensive and sustainable approach is needed whereby the maintenance of forests and tree cover helps to combat land degradation and erosion, maintain Indonesia's rich biodiversity, protect coastal areas, reduce the pace of climate change, and provide the basic needs for the livelihoods of millions of people.

The FAO recently agreed to provide the Environment and Forestry Ministry with technical expertise and funding to strengthen several forest management units.

The project will help strengthen the capacity of human resources, local communities and institutions to support sustainable forest management.

Indonesia faces tremendous challenges in ensuring the food security of a rapidly growing population, Smulders said, while managing the wealth of its natural resources for future generations.

This requires the maintenance of a delicate balance across all productive sectors.

For this, the FAO has helped develop an approach called "Climate Smart Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries."

"This approach combines increased productivity with climate change adaptation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Smulders said.

In recent years, the FAO has trained government officials and farmers in Central Kalimantan to practice Climate Smart Agriculture to prevent forest fires.

The FAO, in collaboration with government institutions and various development partners, will provide technical support to address land degradation, climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management in three upland landscapes of Java, where unsustainable agricultural practices are causing deforestation and land degradation.

The FAO is committed to working with the government, civil society, the private sector and development partners, to prevent further loss of Indonesia's tropical forests, to manage its natural resources in a sustainable manner.