Sustained Policy Action needed to end Indonesia Haze

Indonesia fires are an annual event that occurs during the dry season. The fires are so intense, resulting in haze that affects neighboring countries -Singapore and Malaysia. Every fire outbreak is met with equal amount of gusto in political activities and discussions on how to counter the episode. But this energy seem to die off as soon as the rains start and the fire goes off.

The ASB Partnership research in Indonesia over the past twenty years points to the need for sustained urgent action beyond the fire episodes as a way to bring a permanent end to the fire and the haze. Policy action relating to land use decisions and rights are recommended.  These include:

  • Focus on the need to shift the costs to, and benefits from, those who use fire to clear forests
  • Serious law enforcement strategies that include public naming and shaming as well as prosecutions
  • Clarity on customary land rights 'adat' claims

Read full blog here

Download new Policy Brief: Stopping haze when it rains: lessons learnt in 20 years of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn research in Indonesia

Read Book: Partnership in the Tropical Forest Margins; a 20-Year Journey in search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn

REDD+ impact on Indonesia’s Forest Governance

By Elizabeth Kahurani

ASB Partnership training on Land Use Planning and Management in Jambi Province, IndonesiaDespite challenges and controversy surrounding the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), there is no denying that the mechanism has set in motion structures and processes on which climate change regimes can build on both at the national and international levels. For Indonesia, there is evidence that the REDD+ initiative has had considerable impact on forest governance.

In a new study, Reform or Reversal: the Impact of REDD+ Readiness on Forest Governance in Indonesia. Scientists used a new analytical framework on REDD+ Readiness and interviews to determine how well along the country is doing in getting ready to implement the initiative and associated governance reforms. The analytical framework provides a set of functions and indicators as criteria with universal application. The main functions include: Planning and Coordination; policy, institutional, and legal framework; MRV and audit; Demonstration and Pilots; Financing; Benefit sharing.

Indonesia is known to have demonstrated high level political will and commitment when the president declared the target for the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% with national resources or up to 41% with international support by 2020. However, stakeholders interviewed in the study indicated the need to accelerate operational framework to address issues on tenure, carbon rights and conflict resolution.

There was a high score for REDD+ pilot projects as they are many and spread out within the country, though concern was with the need for better coordination and finding ways to incorporate lessons at project level to national scale.

With regard to planning and coordination, respondents cited the need for a REDD+ institution in order to enhance coordination between relevant sectors and stakeholders.

“On MRV, the country is yet to make significant strides though there is a Road Map for Forestry MRV to identify key activities,” says Putra Agung, lead author of the study. He further adds that a financial system and instruments for public and private sector funding are still in discussion and action was needed to clarify benefit-sharing mechanism.

“To demonstrate results on emission reduction, REDD+ must reward good performance and produce incentives through adequate compensation and co-investment across relevant scales,” says Dr Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre.

Overall, REDD+ has had a positive impact on forest governance in Indonesia. In this study, the function on policy, institutional, and legal framework received a high score. Moreover, the REDD social safeguard, the commitment by various ministries to hasten the gazettement of forest boundaries, and the constitutional recognition of indigenous people to manage forest have been significant in attempts to resolve land tenure issues.

The study Reform or Reversal: the Impact of REDD+ Readiness on Forest Governance in Indonesia is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+ available on open access.

Citation: Agung, P., Galudra, G.,van Noordwijk, M., Maryani, R. 2014 Reform or reversal: the impact of REDD+ readiness on forest governance in Indonesia Climate Policy 14 (6) 748-768

Complex political and economic realities of being REDD ready

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forests Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre have published a special  issue in Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6, that focuses on the Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+, guest edited by Dr Peter Minang and Dr Meine van Noordwijk.  All articles in this special issue are available for free as “open access” publications.

According to the special issue, the process of REDD+ readiness is shaped by a host of complex political and economic factors largely influenced by the national environment, history and circumstances specific to each country.

“The game changes at country level, and the process has to account for complex political and economic realities involving multiple actors, institutions, political and sectoral ideologies that require an iterative, rather than a simple linear, global process,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the special issue editors.

Read entire blog from Climate Strategies and climate policy journal blog.

Evidence on adaptation-mitigation synergy at UN climate talks

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the ongoing UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD), Ministry of Agriculture and The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) joined hands at an official side event to provide scientific evidence and guidance on the issue of synergy between adaptation and mitigation.

In defining the synergy concept, Dr Lalisa Duguma of ICRAF said that usually, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” thus reaching for optimal benefits derived from the two interventions in a way that neither would have achieved independently.

From a study that developed a framework for assessing potential areas for synergy, and applied in developing countries, Dr Duguma noted that most countries were moving towards synergy with a high score on institutional setup although much remains to be seen in terms of implementation for most countries. Read related article

Indonesia is among the exception. The country is implementing several strategies to link adaptation and mitigation in agriculture and peatlands. One of this is the Integrated Crop -Livestock Farming System (ICLS) that is being applied in a rainfed lowland rice  area  of Central Java. According to Dr. Wihardjaka of IAARD, the system significantly improves the productivity of rainfed lowland rice, provides higher  profits and increases resilience of agriculture to climate change. It at the same time reduces greenhouse gas emissions particularly carbon dioxide and methane.

Activities to implement ICLS include “use of direct seeding technique, recycling of organic wastes, crop planting calendar, pest management control, efficient use of fertilizer, water management and control, and high yielding rice variety with low methane emission,” says Dr Wihardjaka. It also involves utilizing natural resources such as biogas for household use, biocompost as fertilizer and  biopesticides that effectively use solar radiation.

“An integrated cropping calendar helps farmers to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns as it acts as a tool for rainfall forecast, provide recommendation for planting time, planting area, risk areas to flood, drought, pests and diseases,” says Mr Fadhlullah Ramadhani also from IAARD. “In fact, it helps to make decisions on fertilizer, seed and pesticide distribution as well as water requirements. We administered multi-channel delivery system including the use of facebook, android, SMS, and Google+” added Mr. Ramadhani. “With the multi-faceted climatic threats, cropping calendar is one among the many adaptation actions being developed and implemented in Indonesia. Other actions include development  of hardy high- yielding varieties, soil and water conservation and crop rotation” added Dr Fahmuddin Agus from IAARD.  

Another source of emissions in Indonesia is degraded peatland. It covers around   25% of the 15 Mha Indonesian peatland area and their high emission potential is exacerbated by the risk of fires. However, this land can profitably be converted for crop production without worsening the environment.

Dr Fahmudin Agus of IAARD and his team conducted a study on viability of agricultural production on peatland. “We found that when properly managed, crop production on peatland is comparable to that of mineral land, and it is quite profitable with an estimated net present value of USD 315 to 4421 per hectare per year,” he says. However, initial investment can be tall order for smallholder farmers. He therefore urges for policy measures that provide incentives to these farmers that could include, “secure and  (semi) permanent land tenure; subsidies for initial investment, especially for smallholder rubber plantation; infrastructure, including drainage canals and water table control system; high quality planting materials and fertilizers; and technical support. Rehabilitation of degraded peatland must be coupled with strict regulatory measures for conserving the remaining  peat forest”.

To objectively determine how such climate change actions as those in Indonesia can be scaled up and applied to different contexts, it is important to know the extent to which countries are ready to implement through policy frameworks provided by the UN processes such REDD.

Dr Peter Minang of ICRAF led a study that developed a framework for assessing REDD readiness in different countries and that can be used to objectively make cross-cutting comparisons. When applied to four countries –Peru, Cameroon, Indonesia and Vietnam, all the countries seem to have adopted most of the UN climate commitment REDD processes and made the required submissions. However, only Indonesia had backed this up with a national policy on REDD linked to the country’s economic strategy, although Vietnam also seem to be making progress with a benefit sharing framework in place. “Most countries scored poorly on benefit sharing; monitoring, reporting and verification; audit and financing,” says Dr Minang. Read related article

Peru is making progress with the launch of their national adaptation and mitigation plans (NAMAs) at the UNFCCC COP 20. Dr Valentina Robiglio of ICRAF was involved in providing technical support to the process. At the IAARD-ICRAF event, she described the NAMA process and how this can be locally adapted especially to cacao production. See presentation.

The Director General of ICRAF, Prof Tony Simons, was moderating the session and concluded by emphasizing the importance of having evidence feed into the official UNFCCC negotiations particularly to influence the formal inclusion of agriculture in these debates.


See presentations

Integrated crop-livestock farming system (ICLS) on rainfed lowland rice for sustainable agriculture

Synergies between Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: National Level Experiences

Improving   the profits   from peatland without exacerbating the environmental impacts

Integrated cropping calendar for adapting to erratic rainfall pattern

Developing REDD+ schemes must consider the implications of uncertainty and scale

Maps of tree cover that were used for developing schemes to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation have errors. It’s all about scale and pixels, say Betha Lusiana and colleagues

By Robert Finlayson

The ability of any scheme to meet its national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+) requires understanding how its processes are linked across scales, from local through provincial to national and international levels. A single approach to reduce deforestation that is effective for a project in several villages might not be as effective at an aggregated level, such as a district.

Accordingly, scale must be addressed in REDD+ schemes, including highly technical activities such as satellite mapping of vegetation cover. This is a critical feature, since knowing how the amount of carbon stock in the form of vegetation, of what type, and how it changes over time determines payments to local people for preserving, adding to, or depleting the stock.

Having a good carbon map is important for being able to monitor carbon being sequestered or emitted over time. For incentive schemes, having a map that fits closely to the reality on the ground is also important. Developing emission maps requires information in the form of land-cover maps and aboveground carbon stocks for every land-use type in the landscape. However, both types of information have errors and uncertainty.  For example, when looking at a satellite image, rubber agroforests can be visually mistaken for natural forests (even in the field it can be difficult for untrained eyes to tell them apart) and the amount of carbon stock in each type of tree cover can vary substantially, which means that when changes to the stock are monitored and aligned with payments for preservation, enhancement or reduction of said stock, there could be large errors and hence incorrect payments.

To address this, we set out to identify an appropriate resolution for mapping carbon stock in a REDD+ scheme. This work was part of a study we conducted—discussed more fully in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change—to design effective emission-reduction activities in Tanjung Jabung Barat (a high-emission district in Jambi province, Indonesia) that can be implemented by the district government.

The study of resolution accuracy involved two steps. First, we developed emission maps for the district that identified changes in aboveground carbon stocks between 2000 and 2009. The maps included calculations that allowed for uncertainty caused by errors in land-cover-map classifications and the variation of carbon, representing the many possible carbons stored in a similar-size plot of a given type of vegetation. Second, we calculated estimates of emissions based on various resolutions from the maps developed in step 1.

From this process, we were able to propose an appropriate scale for monitoring emissions from land-use changes: for anThe effect of scale on hot spots of carbon emissions in Tanjung Jabung Barat, Jambi, Indonesia, between 2000 and 2009. Pixel resolution of 100 m equals pixel area of 1 ha and pixel resolution of 1000 m equals pixel area of 1 km2. Source: World Agroforestacceptable error of 5% (to put it another way: 95% accuracy), planners should use an emissions map with pixel resolution of 1000 m, equal to a pixel size of 1 km2.

We compared this with a map developed by planners in Tanjung Jabung Barat, who had been involved in a participatory planning process with communities, businesses and government agencies to come up with ways of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and found that the schemes they had in mind would be served well by a map with resolution of 1 km2.

Read the article

Lusiana B, van Noordwijk M, Johana F, Galudra G, Suyanto, Cadisch G. 2014.Implications of uncertainty and scale in carbon emission estimates on locally appropriate designs to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+). Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

The role of migrants in land arrangements and deforestation

Internal migrants in Indonesia have shifted land arrangements, resulting in both social and ecological damage: land conflicts increase along with deforestation. This complex relationship has been underplayed in the REDD debate, say Gamma Galudra, Meine van Noordwijk, Putra Agung, Suyanto and Ujjwal Pradhan

By Masayu Vinanda

Conflicting claims over land ownership have occurred in most parts of Indonesia, according to Gamma Galudra and colleagues, writing in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. They describe one such conflict and its implications for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Senyerang village, Tanjung Jabung Barat district, Jambi province on the island of Sumatra.

Agroforest on peat in Tanjung Jabung Barat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe recent background to the conflict in Senyerang starts in 1997, when the Ministry of Forestry granted a permit for a pulp-and-paper company to expand its concession area. About 1500 people—long-settled migrants from other parts of Indonesia—protested over the rights to the land in question, resulting in one person shot dead and two wounded. The migrants argued that the area was their communal land that had been used by the Banjar people since the 1920s. A land licence granted by the pesirah (the chief of the territory), active since the Dutch colonial period, was used as their advocacy tool. However, the company did not stop the conversion and continued planting the area with acacia.

The Senyerang situation clearly demonstrated the tenurial interaction between a group of migrants and a concession-holding company. However, interaction between the migrants and the government institution that issued the permit to the company was also part of the problem. Historical, informal negotiations between the pesirah and the migrants dated back many years and provided a more comprehensive context.

In their study, Galudra and his team analysed relations between four key groups: the state, local communities, migrants and state-sanctioned concession holders in the peat forests of the district to reveal complex, ‘underlying land ownership, power struggles and strategic positioning among stakeholders across scales’.  Those three aspects are crucial to the effectiveness of any REDD scheme in the district, they argued.

Inhabited by approximately 280,000 people, nearly half of the population of the district are migrants from other parts of Indonesia. Practically, the district is divided into two parts: the inland villages on mineral soil inhabited by people from western and northern Sumatra; and the lowland peatland inhabited by Malay people from Riau. Peatland occupies 40% of the district and half of the land is state domain, with the largest area classified as ‘production forest’.

In the 1970s, the Ministry of Agriculture issued concessions to log the forests, leaving behind huge logged-over areas in many parts of the region. These areas were easily accessed, thanks to the roads built for timber extraction, which resulted in further land clearing, particularly for oil-palm and pulp-and-paper plantations. Fifteen years later, the Forest Allotment Consensus provided a stronger legal basis to issue more permits.

‘Both permit regimes marginalized migrants and local communities’, said Galudra. ‘Interaction began between migrants and local communities in the form of land sales. Local communities sold land—to which they might have had customary but not state-sanctioned rights—to groups of migrants who expanded the crop area. Those migrant-controlled areas would sometimes then be occupied by customary landowners who claimed that the land belonged to them. To resolve the conflict, the migrants had to undertake a second transaction, paying extra amounts to the customary landowners’.

Additionally, interaction between migrants and local communities resulted in changing how land was used. For instance, one migrant group, the Banjar, had much experience in clearing and draining peat forests, land which was then transferred to the pesirah (the chief of the territory).

‘The local people of the district lacked this knowledge’, said Galudra, ‘but the Banjar people were able to extend the village’s claims over territory in the peatland. The migrants did this to build a better relationship with the locals. The clearing was seen as an initial investment in easier access for all to use the land’.

Often, an even more complex situation appears when analyzing interactions between migrants and the private sector. Competing claims over land between migrants, local communities and private concessions arose owing to changing policies after decentralization took place, affecting the power relations between the central and local governments. For example, local people and migrants understood that the land they claimed was classified as ‘non-forest area’, a belief justified by such a designation in the District Spatial Plan of 1993. However, private companies believed the area was classified as ‘conversion production forest’ as shown in the records of the central government’s 1985 Forest Allotment Consensus. The conflicting land-use policies have seen an increase in concession permits and the status of forests changed to ‘conversion production forest’ to meet the demand for expansion by the palm-oil and pulp-and-paper industries.

Galudra and team argue that examining the complexities of tenurial interaction—particularly how migrants balance power with local communities, businesses and government authorities at the local level—will help ensure an effective implementation of REDD.

Clear and secure land and forest ownership is required if any progress is to be made. If forest or land tenure insecurity has been resolved, there is no doubt that the benefits or incentives generated from REDD initiatives can then be equally and fairly distributed.

Read the article

Galudra G, van Noordwijk M, Agung P, Suyanto, Pradhan U. 2014. Migrants, land markets and carbon emissions in Jambi, Indonesia: Land tenure change and the prospect of emission reduction. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

 This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry


Dragging a knowledge chain through the peat

Lack of understanding of peat is not the weakest link in the chain, say Meine van Noordwijk and colleagues

By Amy C. Cruz

The high emissions of greenhouse gases from tropical peatlands caused by changing their land use have become a problem for policymakers that they can no longer deny, as their own scientists have now confirmed what external critics told before.

Researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia are assessing the viability of rubber agroforestry on peat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe emissions need to be reduced to mitigate the effects of climate change but because of the complex issues involved, governments, societies and private businesses are still ‘muddling along’ when it comes to conserving peatlands. The peat models we have so far are as clear as mud.

Given the urgency and political sensitivity, peat and peatlands have become an interesting test ground for understanding the chain that links knowledge with action. Who needs to know, who can act and where is knowledge the weakest link in the chain's limiting action?

Such a ‘knowledge value-chain for peatland conservation’ can trace steps from fundamental understanding of peatlands all the way to multilevel actions towards conservation and reduction of emissions.

‘We found that there are four separate parts of an overall knowledge value-chain concept that links fundamental understanding to action’, said Meine van Noordwijk,  leading a team of authors in a recent publication in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, ‘and there are several weak links that need to be strengthened in a complex chain. Coordinated research and action is needed to achieve positive policy actions and behaviour changes.”

The research team had looked at how people’s understanding, willingness, ability and actions towards peatland conservation have progressed over time. Understanding peat and its processes was the first section in the value chain, including the fundamental point of agreeing on the definitions of ‘peat’ and ‘peatland’ so that they can be correctly identified and assigned more attention, if necessary.

Towards this, different studies had been carried out to develop more accurate ways of quantifying and attributing emissions from peatlands and yet there was still room for improvement, especially because peatlands are variable by nature, making it hard to ensure accurate measurements. In addition, different land uses on peat also result in differences in emissions.

‘Hard science may seem easy compared to what it takes to get a globally agreed set of default values that can be used for transparent emissions’ accounting’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

The second section of the chain is the willingness to act to reduce emissions. For example, in the past, policymakers could not ignore the problem of smoke haze caused by peatland conversion because its effect on visibility was too obvious. Conversion without use of fire seemed an acceptable alternative. The invisible carbon emissions from the conversion and drainage itself could be ignored. However, when emission estimates, mostly from peat drainage and fires, identified Indonesia as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases there were hardly any Indonesian scientists who had experience and data to challenge or corroborate the claims.

‘Now that weak link has been strengthened, as is evident by the four papers by Indonesian scientists in the REDD-ALERT special issue. Indonesian policymakersnow acknowledge the importance of reducing emissions from peatland as part of the broader debate’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

But willingness to act is not enough. Third, relevant authorities need to be able to influence companies and people to actually reduce emissions. While peatland conversion appeared to be attractive to companies because it brought less conflict with local people and their land-right claims than conversion elsewhere, peatland use now gives oil-palm companies a bad name internationally and potentially affects their sales. Where the long process of issuing permits has already started, however, it is not easy for a local government to stop the conversion and reverse permits. Players at this level need to be aware of how emission reductions are calculated and valued. Local governments need to secure jobs and revenue, so alternative scenarios need to meet their expectations.

The fourth section of the chain is formed by farmers and their communities living in or near peatlands. Slowing current conversion and redirecting land-use changes without alternatives that provide improved livelihoods for local people is not attractive for any policymaker.

‘There are not yet sufficiently viable, alternative uses of peatlands that do not contribute to higher emissions but provide for local incomes and livelihoods’, said Dr van Noordwijk. ‘Thus, the primary focus for this section of the chain needs to be on testing and improving the various locally developed solutions, such as agroforestry involving locally adapted trees for which a market exists’.

Looking over the whole length of the knowledge chain, Dr van Noordwijk and colleagues conclude that progress has been made in the first three sections but peatland countries, such as Indonesia, and international supporters now have to focus on improving the fourth section. 

‘If good science, accurate numbers, a willingness and ability to act on emission estimates are not accompanied by viable alternatives for local livelihoods then the ultimate goal of reducing emissions cannot be achieved,’ conclude Dr van Noordwijk and the research team.

Read the article

Van Noordwijk M, Matthews R, Agus F, Farmer J, Verchot L, Hergoualc’h K, Persch S, Tata HL, Khasanah N, Widayati A, Dewi S. 2014. Mud, muddle and models in the knowledge value-chain to action on tropical peatland conservation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry





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