“Forests and forest resources are crucial for Indonesia and the world fighting climate change,” said Director-General of Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Robert Nasi, in his opening address at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with CIFOR and the Indonesian government last week.
Since 1997 CIFOR has called Indonesia its home. The sprawling country, spread over 17,000 islands, provides a rewarding base for forest researchers. It’s home to the world’s third largest rainforest, has half of the world’s peatlands and a quarter of its mangroves. All of these have provided the world with carbon sinks for millennia. Now, whether they mitigate or accelerate climate change- brought about when their centuries-old stored carbon is released into the atmosphere on their destruction – lies in their immediate management.
“Every aspect of forestry is political activity,” says Minster of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, who says that experts and policymakers ‘mutually construct’ policy. Unable to attend the ceremony in person, Agus Justianto, Director-General of her government’s research agency, Forestry and Environmental Research Development and Innovation Agency of the Government of Indonesia (FOERDIA) delivered her words.
“I expect both parties will mobilize science into action and also translate international movements for people’s welfare,” he said on Minister Nurbaya’s behalf.
Indonesia has made progress in protecting forests. According to government figures, the annual deforestation rate has gone from 1.09 million hectares to 480,000 hectares in the last three years and achieved a six times reduction from 2000.
While recognizing these achievements, Nurbaya highlighted the dangers of mismanaging forests, adding that their destruction can be a “major contributor to carbon emissions, mainly due to forest fires – especially in peatlands.”
Nurbaya said the partnership between CIFOR and FOERDIA is crucial as Indonesia enters a ‘new paradigm in forest research and development.’