“Recognise the rights of indigenous peoples”: New briefing series on REDD+ in Indonesia from Forest Peoples Programme

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Recognise the rights of indigenous peoples: New briefing series on REDD+ in Indonesia from Forest Peoples Programme

Last week, Forest Peoples Programme, together with local partners released a series of briefings about REDD in Indonesia. Five briefings look at REDD developments Aceh, Riau, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua and a sixth looks at REDD at the national level.

The briefings were produced together with the following FPP partners in Indonesia: Pusaka, HuMa, Yayasan Petak Danum, Jasoil, Yayasan Merah Putih, Yayasan Rumpun Bambu and Scale Up. They provide a view of REDD in Indonesia from the perspective of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

“The briefings describe many gaps and challenges facing REDD+ in Indonesia concerning indigenous peoples’ rights,” FPP writes in an Overview (pdf file 339 KB) to the series. The overview highlights the following problems:

  • A failure of forestry regulations to recognise and respect the right of indigenous peoples to manage and control their traditional territories.
  • Procedures for free, prior and informed consent are unclear or not yet developed. “The right of communities to FPIC before pilot projects obtain permits has not been respected in any of the REDD+ pilots reviewed.”
  • Even where FPIC is recognised by provincial governments, commitments are not yet put into practice and are undermined by national laws.
  • There is a lack of transparency and poor information disclosure by REDD projects and programmes.
  • Despite the existence of more than 40 REDD pilot projects in Indonesia, benefit sharing arrangements between the government, project developers and local communities are vague or not yet developed “in all projects reviewed”.
  • Multi-stakeholder consultations on REDD are dominated by governmental, NGO and private sector representatives.

The briefings reveal some positive aspects, such as support for mapping of customary lands by provincial governments in Papua, West Papua, Aceh and Central Kalimantan. “REDD+ development in Indonesia are opening a space for dialogue between communities and the government on rights issues and on the need to address ongoing and unresolved land conflicts,” FPP writes.

National Update on REDD+ in Indonesia

National Update on REDD+ in Indonesia (pdf file 1.3 MB): This briefing notes that the World Bank and its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility “do not recognise the rights of indigenous or local communities to FPIC”, but considers Free, Prior and Informed Consultation to be adequate. The World Bank is also working with the Asian Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation to develop a proposal for the Forest Investment Program with the Indonesian Government. “To date, little information has been made available,” the briefing notes, “although a team of consultants has been hired to develop the plan.”

For decades, the Ministry of Forestry has handed out permits for industrial logging and plantation concessions with no regard for the rights of indigenous people and local communities living in and near the forests. The Ministry of Forestry simply assumed that all forests are State Forests and that local communities living in these areas or using the forests are doing so illegally. However, the briefing notes a sign that this might be slowly changing:

In early 2011, the Ministry of Forestry completed research showing that there are more than 25,000 officially recognised villages within the forest zones of Indonesia. The overall population of these villages is probably more than fifty million people. Although it is only a research paper, official acknowledgement that communities live in the forest zone is a step forward for the government.

The rest of the briefing series looks at REDD at the province and project level:

CENTRAL KALIMANTAN: REDD+ and the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership (KFCP)

CENTRAL KALIMANTAN: REDD+ and the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership (KFCP) (pdf file 781.1 KB): The Australian-funded Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership has made several appearances on REDD-Monitor in the past. This briefing notes that “criticism of the KFCP has been widespread in the affected villages visited by Pusaka and FPP since 2009″. The briefing notes that many groups are “questioning the value of turning reduced carbon emissions into an economic objective”, and asks whether the benefits will in fact help indigenous peoples and local communities.

Based on discussions with villagers in Mantangai Hulu and Katunjung, the briefing raises the following problems with the KFCP project:

  • Lack of transparency from the KFCP concerning its objectives and REDD+ plans.
  • Lack of information on the supposed benefits of the KFCP project for their daily lives, especially women.
  • Concern that the KFCP has not responded to verbal and written requests from the villagers seeking support to establish rubber gardens.
  • Inability of KFCP to learn from the traditional knowledge of the villagers as to which species will grow well in the different soils and conditions of the rehabilitation site.
  • Lack of commitment from KFCP to recognise and respect the customary rights in land of the villages affected by the project.
  • Concern that although the KFCP has an enormous budget (US$30 million), it has not brought about concrete or clear benefits to the communities.

The briefing also notes that the project is considering reducing its commitment to FPIC to “full and effective participation”. This is clearly unacceptable because, as the briefing notes, the fate of the 10,000 people affected by the project would be the result of decisions taken in Jakarta and Canberra.

ACEH: The Ulu Masen REDD+ Pilot Project

ACEH: The Ulu Masen REDD+ Pilot Project (pdf file 742.5 KB): In 2008, the Ulu Masen project became the world’s first REDD project to be approved by the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance. Joanna Durbin, Director of CCBA said that, “The project shows how solid partnerships with local communities are likely to deliver real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” The project was audited by Rainforest Alliance.

In order to meet the CCB standard, the project had to show that affected communities had been consulted and had agreed to the proposed project. While the leaders of many of the 200 villages inside the project area were consulted, many “have yet to be informed about the project”, the briefing notes.

The project highlights some of the difficulties of setting up a REDD project in Indonesia. The project has been under development since 2007, yet the briefing notes that it “does not have a strong legal basis to manage the forests within the project site.” The Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta has not yet accepted the plan from the government of Aceh for the Ulu Masen project, according to the briefing. In 2009, the Aceh Governor has imposed a logging moratorium in Aceh, yet the Ministry of Forestry considers the logging permits that it issued in the 1990s to be still valid.

Irwandi Yusuf, the Governor of Aceh, has been very supportive of the Ulu Masen project. But elections for a new Governor will take place before the end of 2011. The other candidates have not yet said that they will continue the Governor’s REDD programme.

In May 2011, Carbon Conservation, an Australian carbon trading firm involved in the Ulu Masen project, sold half of its assets to a Canadian mining company called East Asia Minerals. The briefing notes that this move “may turn many against the Ulu Masen Project and exacerbate existing concerns”. The briefing doesn’t mention this, but the deal doesn’t seem to have done East Asia Minerals’ share price much good. When the deal with Carbon Conservation was agreed, the share price of East Asia Minerals stood at US$4.88. It now stands at US$0.66 (source: bit.ly/rjLEoN). Carbon Conservation was paid US$500,000 plus 2.5 million shares and therefore would appear to have lost several million dollars as a result of the deal. (Hat tip, Elfian Effendi, Greenomics Indonesia.)

The briefing ends with an interview with Pak Nas, a Mukim leader from Lam Leu Ot District. Mukim are “traditional inter-village institutions for decision-making on land and resources outside the agricultural boundaries of the villages”, the briefing explains. Pak Nas said that,

“The government hasn’t presented its plans for REDD to my village. As the leader of the association of Mukims I have been briefed by the government on REDD, but the information was limited. I asked the govenment about its benefit sharing plan for REDD but didn’t receive clear answers. I asked if the benefits from REDD projects would go to the legal logging concessions that have been forced to stop their operations or if they would go to the communities. However, the government’s REDD task force couldn’t answer me. In my Mukim, we aren’t opposed to REDD but we don’t know what restrictions the government is planning on our access to our forests and we don’t know what benefits we will receive.”

CENTRAL SULAWESI: UN-REDD Indonesia’s Pilot Province

CENTRAL SULAWESI: UN-REDD Indonesia’s Pilot Province (pdf file, 1.4 MB): In October 2010, UN-REDD chose Central Sulawesi as a pilot province for its REDD programme in Indonesia. A Provincial Working Group on REDD+ was established in February 2011, consisting of 76 representatives of government agencies, but only 4 representatives of communities and community organisations.

The briefing points out that indigenous peoples and local communities in Central Sulawesi are in conflict with companies holding logging concessions, mining concessions and business use permits. Forest concessions, oil palm plantations and mining companies have concessions covering a total area of more than 3.7 million hectares in Central Sulawesi. The Central Sulawesi REDD+ Working Group has not yet discussed the recognition of communities’ rights to land and forest.

SUMATRA: Update on RAPP’s activities in the Kampar Peninsula, Riau

SUMATRA: Update on RAPP’s activities in the Kampar Peninsula, Riau (pdf file 1.8 MB): The pulp and paper company APRIL has been planning a REDD project on the Kampar Peninsular for several years. In December 2009, after protests by Greenpeace and local communities about APRIL’s plans to clear 45,000 hectares of peat swamps in the Kampar Peninsular, the Ministry of Forestry suspended RAPP’s permit to plant acacia trees on this land. (RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL.) A team from the Ministry of Forestry investigated APRIL’s plans and in January 2010 reported that RAPP must respect the rights of communities to FPIC before clearing the land. Four months later, the Forestry Ministry lifted the suspension and RAPP immediately began clearing the forests, even though negotiations with the community of Teluk Binjai were still ongoing.

The village of Teluk Meranti is also facing a conflict with RAPP. The community wrote to RAPP in October 2009 requesting RAPP to stop all field activities until an agreement is reached with the community. RAPP did not reply. After six months of negotiations, an agreement was reached between RAPP and a negotiating team from Teluk Meranti, but it was a disappointment to many members of the community, who felt it breached their right to FPIC. RAPP did not reply to another letter from the community requesting a renegotiation of the agreement.

Community members have appealed to the Regent of Palawan, but the Regent and district administration told them that the agreement could not be renegotiated. RAPP’s bulldozers moved in to clear more than 25,000 hectares of forest as soon as the agreement was reached. Villagers protested and stopped the company’s machinery. They are concerned that RAPP’s plantations would take over much of their forest and potential agricultural lands.

Forest Peoples Programme, Scale Up and two community associations from the Kampar Peninsular wrote to APRIL in June 2011, to remind the company of its failure to to respect the rights of the indigenous communities on the Kampar Peninsular. Three months later, APRIL had not replied.

PAPUA AND WEST PAPUA: REDD+ and the threat to indigenous peoples

PAPUA AND WEST PAPUA: REDD+ and the threat to indigenous peoples (pdf file, 2.0 MB): Paper and West Papua are the most forested and culturally diverse provinces in Indonesia. Peat swamp forests cover a total of 8 million hectares, or one-third of Indonesia’s total peat swamp forest area. An area of 2 million hectares of peat swamp forests in Papua and West Papua is categorised as conversion forest.

In 2007, at COP-13 in Bali, the governors of Papua and West Papua announced their support for REDD. Since then, several voluntary market-based REDD projects have started, but all have stalled. The briefing reports that the following companies and NGOs have been involved REDD projects in Papua and West Papua: New Forest (Australia), PT. Emerald Planet, Carbon Strategic Pty Ltd (Australia), Asia Pacific Carbon Ltd (Australia), Carbon Conservation (Australia), Flora and Fauna International, Conservation International and WWF.

The briefing points out, however, that indigenous peoples in Papua “have not been informed of the national REDD+ regulation or of the fact that REDD+ projects may be implemented on their customary territories”. The briefing provides examples of workshops that NGOs have held with local communities, such as this statement from indigenous peoples in 2009:

“There are agreements on forest management and REDD+ in Papua; we expect they will be implemented, notably in West Papua. The province has a lot of natural resource potential but permits have always come from the Governor, not from the indigenous peoples as the rightful owners of the resources. Boundaries of clans’ land have been put into place, but they are not recognised by the government. Is a decree needed for the process to be clarified? In our opinion, it is important that the national and regional governments recognise the rights of the indigenous peoples in an honest and just manner.”

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One Comment

  1. Interesting publication.

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