Event Coverage

Local context essential in work to continue reductions in deforestation in Indonesia

Science and policy dialogue explored issues and solutions
View from Bukit Bujang, Bungo district, Jambi province, Indonesia. Tri Saputro/CIFOR

Related stories

Continued reduction in deforestation in Indonesia, which would help to fight climate change, will require a consistent mix of policy approaches and implementation that is all founded on a strong understanding of the local context as well as the requirements of a range of stakeholders.

That was a key message from a science and policy dialogue session examining approaches to understanding deforestation, the needs of local communities, sustainable livelihoods, and the role of agriculture in implementing policies through the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme.

The stakes are high: measures must help to mitigate climate change, Budi Haryanto, Chairman of the University of Indonesia’s Research Center for Climate Change (RCCC-UI), noted in his opening remarks to the session Taking local context into account in REDD+ policies implementation held 14 December 2022.

“We hope today’s discussion will support the advancement of science as well as policies in forestry and development, as well as the mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the local, national, and global levels,” Haryanto said. The RCCC-UI, working with the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and partners, is implementing a Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (GCS REDD+).

The Dialogue session is part of a series organized under GCS-REDD+ Phase 4, which aims to tailor research to country-level needs, policies and targets with regard to forest-based climate mitigation while sharing lessons on deforestation archetypes and REDD+ impact evaluation research from GCS REDD+ countries, including Indonesia.

Reports of its lowest annual deforestation rate in decades – 100,000 hectares (ha) in 2019-2020, or 75% lower than 2018–2019 deforestation levels, reported at 462,460 ha –  is a major achievement for Indonesia. But to continue this downward trend, a careful diagnosis of the dominant drivers of deforestation, such as tree plantations, is essential, participants said.

Discussions were divided along two themes: first, researchers set out details of methods used to define and identify different deforestation contexts in Indonesia. Studies involve new analyses of satellite data, as well as identification of different deforestation patterns and drivers in Indonesia. The second theme focused on progress made in impact-evaluation studies and identifying forest-relevant policies.

Policies outside of the forestry sector must also be diagnosed for relevance to deforestation, since the multitude of factors suggests there must be several solutions, said Yosi Amelia, of the Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan foundation.

“There are multiple sectors causing deforestation, multiple symptoms, so how can we get to the correct diagnosis?” she said.

Indonesia’s mining sector, for example, is becoming a significant factor in deforestation and must therefore be assessed, said Amelia. Roads and rivers that increase access to an area can also be a factor – both positive and negative – in deforestation, raising questions about the most appropriate policies in any particular context.

“In the Indonesian context, forest land policy depends on other policies, in the energy sector and in the agriculture sector – especially sectors that are integrated with the need for land – so how do we look at these elements?”

Diagnosing deforestation

Preliminary conclusions show some persistent deforestation fronts, including lands with high agricultural suitability, and further analysis should include post-forest land cover, land tenure, roads, and the use of all of these in deforestation diagnostics, said Arild Angelsen, a researcher with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU).

Deforestation diagnostics is a method to understand what policies are likely to provide the best conservation outcomes in a given location – essentially, developing archetypes of deforestation. This prescription tool allows practitioners to find the middle ground between generalizations and too many specific case studies, he said.

Deforestation archetypes for Indonesia include landscape attributes such as forest cover, forest-cover change; drivers of change, including  post-forest land uses, risk factors; and governance, including tenure. The main motivations for these archetypes include a lack of systematic knowledge with regard to drivers of deforestation and policy impacts; the need for a systematized way choose from among policy options; and making the most of CIFOR’s store of knowledge.

The effect of context on forest policies and measures must also be defined and studied, said Colas Chervier, a scientist with CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development. His team classified relevant policies and interventions by: forest policies and measures implemented; psychological mechanisms activated by forest measures and policies; short-term change in behaviour of targeted stakeholders; cause of deforestation mitigated; deforestation and forest degradation reduced.

Next steps involve a deeper understanding of which policies and measures are more likely to be effective in which contexts, said Chervier. That may include ‘carrots’ such as compensation to reward certain behaviours, and ‘sticks’ that could include sanctions if protected areas are breached. What policies or mix of policies can affect behaviours on the ground must be understood to reduce deforestation, he said.

Dialogue with stakeholders as REDD+ progresses is critical to determine the future shape of REDD+, said Daniel Murdiyarso, a CIFOR-ICRAF principal scientist. Other elements determining that future shape are the Forest and Other Land Use (FOLU) net sink 2030, carbon pricing and carbon taxes. The ‘3Es’: efficiency, effectiveness and equity, must now be emphasized, he said.

Approaching deforestation from the global demand side, and not from the supply side only, must also be considered, said one participant. Indonesia’s economy depends on natural resources and, until its economy becomes more efficient with less reliance on resources, global demand must be considered a serious factor in deforestation.

Over the past 50 years, natural resource extraction has driven high deforestation rates, which could be changed through such approaches as integrating deforestation measures into local planning, and strengthening technical capacity of institutions, said Daddy Ruhiyat, chairman of the Provincial Council on Climate Change (DDPI) in East Kalimantan.

Sharing the benefits

Benefit-sharing mechanisms and enabling conditions to ensure policies work effectively must also be included, Ruhiyat said. Consultations must include stakeholders from central governments and municipal bodies to business and local communities, including Indigenous Peoples.

“Anything to do with the rights of the communities are important issues that should be evaluated,” said Ruhiyat.

Applying the right impact-evaluation methods is also critical to understand the value and reach of interventions, said Chervier, who also emphasized the need to assess outcomes likely without interventions.

Sepdinal, head of the subnational project management unit of the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (BioCF-ISFL) in Jambi province, emphasized the need for strong baseline data to ensure that outcomes are properly measured and understood. That may include questioning start dates for baselines, what interventions are studied, livelihoods, and how these are impacted by distance and access to markets.

A transition to sustainable and profitable agricultural production must also be encouraged, said Sandy Nofyanza, a research consultant with CIFOR-ICRAF, as discussions turned to agriculture and supporting resilient livelihoods. That transition may involve support for community access to forests, to increase sustainability of livelihoods while protecting forests.

For example, Indigenous Peoples and local communities may “layer” their incomes based on forest access, harvesting ginger, nutmeg, logs for homes in addition to agricultural products such as rice and seasonal fruits, said Amelia.

Sharing information with farmers concerning how they might fit in policies beyond REDD+, including opportunities to work with certified producers, would be valuable and would help them learn about accessing markets with sustainability requirements, such as rubber, cocoa and palm, said one participant. Understanding benefit sharing is also a major challenge, as information may not be easily accessed by farmers and local communities.

This all underscores the complexity of REDD, the fact that there is no uniform approach to implementation, nor is it easy to understand its impacts, said Moira Moeliono, CIFOR-ICRAF senior associate and moderator of the second discussion.


For more information, please contact Bimo Dwisatrio (b.dwisatrio@cifor-icraf.org)


This research is part of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (www.cifor.org/gcs). The funding partners that have supported this research include the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (CRP-FTA) with financial support from the CGIAR Fund Donors.

Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cifor-icraf.org.