An aerial photo of a protected forest area in Cikole, Lembang, West Bandung, West Java on Nov. 11, 2018. (Antara Photo/Raisan Al Farisi)

Combating Climate Change: Indonesia’s Deforestation Hits Historic Low

MAY 11, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesia’s deforestation rate hits a record low amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

Back in March, the ministry revealed that within 2019-2020, Indonesia’s deforestation rate had dropped by up to 75.03 percent or around 115,460 hectares. This is a drastic fall from the 2018-2019 period, in which Indonesia had lost around 452,460 hectares. The ministry also claimed the deforestation rate was the lowest ever recorded by the Indonesian government.

 According to the Forestry Ministry, the achievement illustrates the government’s commitment to halt deforestation from year to year and lower carbon emission.

 “The government’s commitment to curb deforestation is among the efforts to lower emission. This achievement shows how the various efforts by the Forestry Ministry along with other parties have brought significant results,” Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya wrote on her Instagram account @siti.nurbayakar, not long ago.

 Among those efforts include the 2019 presidential instruction on the moratorium on new permits for primary forests and peatlands. The Forestry Ministry has also run several initiatives to control forest fire, peatland damage, and climate change. 

 “The government is doing multiple efforts by involving all stakeholders even down to the grassroots. [We will] continue to allocate resources to control deforestation in various levels,” Siti said.

 The ministry’s director of forest resource monitoring, Belinda A. Margono said the 75.03 percent plunge is the net figure and encompassed deforestation both within and outside Indonesia’s forest area. 

 Since the 2011-2012 period and as technology progresses, the net deforestation — calculated by taking account of regrowth— has been used to determine the deforestation rate.

In 2019-2020, Indonesia’s gross deforestation stood at 119,100 hectares with around 3,600 hectares of reforestation. Whilst in 2018-2019, the gross deforestation amounted to 465,500 hectares and 3,000 hectares replanted.

Positive Impact to Climate

Indonesia’s accountability and transparency in their deforestation reporting enabled the country to secure a grant from Norway and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

In 2010, Indonesia and Norway agreed on a bilateral partnership on reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Norway has committed up to a result-based payment (RBP) of $1 billion if Indonesia’s efforts on halting emission from deforestation shows any significant improvement. In 2016-2017, Indonesia managed to slash their emission by 11.2 million tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2eq). For this accomplishment, Indonesia will receive a RBP of $56 million from Norway.

In addition, the GCF has approved a funding of $103.8 million in recognition of Indonesia’s success to reduce 20.3 million tons of CO2eq in 2014-2016.

Erik Solheim, former UN Environment Program (UNEP) executive director, is optimistic Indonesia’s deforestation rate will continue to decline, considering the country’s strong leadership and the ongoing global trend towards a green economy.

“[The Forestry Minister] is proven to be extremely efficient and systematic so it can bring positive results to [REDD’s] RBP mechanism,” Erik said at a recent webinar themed “Declining Rate of Deforestation: Is it The New Normal?”.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s efforts earned praise from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Richard Trenchard, the FAO representative and interim for Indonesia, applauded the declining deforestation and forest fire prevention efforts during President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s presidency.

“We applaud the efforts that are being used to combat them, ranging from weather modification technology, such as cloud seeding before the peak of the dry season, to increased community involvement in fire prevention and response,“ Trenchard said at the “Reflection Event: SOIFO 2020, Hints and Seek 2021” held late last year.

FAO commended the Indonesian government’s efforts on biodiversity conservation, as well as conservation and restoration on 16 million-hectare of peatland. As well as the Forestry Ministry’s innovation on monitoring forest resources and commitment to restore 600,000 hectares of mangroves by 2024. Government’s continuous efforts on mitigating climate change and commitment to resolve land conflicts also earned praise.

According to Trenchard, FAO, along with other UN partners, will continue to help bring the latest technology, innovative approaches, and technical capacity for the ministry’s ongoing and future works.

“We are here to ensure that Indonesia’s forest resources are managed sustainably and that the many important challenges that still remain are overcome in the future,“ Trenchard said.

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