Will REDD benefit Papua’s Indigenous Peoples?

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Will REDD benefit Papua’s Indigenous Peoples?

In 2007, Barnabas Suebu, the Governor of Papua, was named as one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment. “We have to save the forests before it is too late. If we do that, we can help save the planet and alleviate poverty at the same time,” Suebu said.

The mechanism for saving Papua’s forests was carbon trading. Suebu told Time that Papua can generate far more revenue by trading credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange than it currently gets from logging. “Why would we cut down trees if people are going to pay us to protect them? “We can prevent deforestation and also use the money to reforest the areas in critical condition,” he said.

The Chicago Climate Exchange was closed at the end of 2010 after nine months of zero trading. There are still no forest carbon trading projects running in Papua. Meanwhile the logging continues and vast areas of forest are being replaced by agricultural concessions, including oil palm, sugar and rice.

The title of this post comes from an article by Down To Earth compiled from a series of articles written by Pietsau Amafnini, Coordinator of the Manokwari-based organisation, JASOIL Tanah Papua. The article is posted below.

While there is a question about whether REDD will benefit Papua’s Indigenous Peoples, it is certain that clearing the forests for monoculture agricultural plantations will not. This short video, by Engage Media, examines the impact of the Merauke Intergrated Food and Energy Estate in Papua.

But REDD will do nothing to prevent the abuses that are taking place in the MIFEE project and similar projects. REDD is operating in parallel to developments such as oil palm plantations, mining, logging and oil exploration, rather than as an alternative. A 2009 report produced by GRM International for USAID makes this clear with its suggestion that the Government of Indonesia could use payments for REDD to facilitate the expansion of the timber, pulp and paper and palm oil industries in the country:

In the Indonesian context REDD payments for verified reductions in past rates of deforestation could facilitate GOI proposals for a doubling in size of the pulp and paper industry from 6 million to 12 million tonnes; to more than double exports of palm oil from the current $3.75 billion to something in the order of $7 billion a year; and to sustain an expanded timber industry which currently generates about $4 billion a year.

In 2010, Governor Suebu gave a fascinating interview to World Business. After explaining that Papua’s economic growth is more than the national average, he talks about Papua’s raw materials. He talks about oil and gas. There are also large coal reserves, but, “We don’t want to use coal for our economy,” Suebu says.

“We are now, wanting a so-called low carbon economy. And that’s why CDM scheme, clean development mechanism has to be promoted in Papua. We are seeking new models . . . of development which is very friendly to the environment, related to the climate change problems.”

In the interview as posted on YouTube, Suebu doesn’t mention Freeport’s Grasberg mine, the largest gold mine and third largest copper mine in the world. In 2010, Freeport made US$4.1 billion profit from the mine. He doesn’t mention the protests against the mine or the environmental and social impacts of the mine. He plays down the separatist struggle in the province, describing it as being “in the past”, although as the Economist magazine reported earlier in 2010 the struggle is intensifying. He also doesn’t mention the MIFEE project and he doesn’t mention REDD.

Several REDD-type projects have been attempted in the provinces of Papua and West Papua – some are still ongoing. (This list is probably not exhaustive. REDD-Monitor welcomes information on other REDD projects in these two provinces.)

  • In 2008, New Forests (Australia) and PT Emerald Planet signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Governor of Papua for a REDD project covering 265,000 hectares in Mamberamo and Mimika. The project developers were unable to get all the necessary permits to develop the projects.
  • Carbon Strategic Pty Ltd (Australia) had a service agreement with the Governor of West Papua, but this is now idle.
  • Another Australian company, Asia Pacific Carbon Ltd. is now carrying out assessment and surveys, aiming to trade the carbon stored in West Papua’s forests.
  • The West Papua Forest Carbon Program is a public private partnership between the provincial government of West Papua and a consortia of Australian service and investment companies. The project aims to establish a payment for ecosystem services REDD-type project. A government-owned and operated company called PADOMA is coordinating the project.
  • IUCN has a pro-poor REDD+ project in Papua and West Papua. The project is coordinated by Pete Wood of the Samdhana Institute. The focus is currently on pilot projects in the Baliem Valley in the central highlands of Papua and the Bomberai Peninsula in the lowlands of West Papua.
  • Conservation International has been working for several years in the Mamberamo Basin. In 2009, CI commissioned Forest Carbon to produce an estimate of the biomass in part of a 670,000 hectare logging concession operated by PT Mamberamo Alas Mandiri. CI was at the time looking into the possibility of establishing a REDD-type project with PT MAM based on reduced impact logging.
  • In 2011, the Governor of Papua established a Forest Carbon (REDD) Papua Task Force.


Will REDD benefit Papua’s Indigenous Peoples?

By Pietsau Amafnini, published in Down to Earth, 89-90, November 2011

Papua’s tropical forests are very strategic in terms of the global climate as well as providing timber and other forest products, which need to be managed sustainably. To implement REDD in Papua, the forestry sector has the duty to rehabilitate degraded forests and lands and to manage forests well. If we manage conservation and protected areas, and production forests properly, and stop converting forests to other uses, we can reduce CO2 emissions and help balance the global climate. However, the reality is, the Indonesian government is not concerned about the state of the climate.

REDD in Papua

In Papua province, there are pilot projects planned in Jayapura district, including in the Cycloop Nature Reserve, the Mosoali Forest Area and the Unurum Guay forest area. In West Papua province, they are planned in Kaimana district, covering Arguni Bay, Triton Bay and Yamor Lake. However the region’s different land use areas – under its spatial plan – have not been clearly established, and indigenous peoples themselves know nothing about government plans to determine their customary areas in line with what’s needed for REDD.

One carbon trading pilot project was initiated in 2008 by the provincial government of West Papua and Carbon Strategic International (CSI, Australia). It is located in forest areas in eight districts, with a total area of 8 million ha. The government’s share is 80% and CSI’s is 20%, with half of this for the company and half to pay experts. The division of the government’s share between central government, region and community still has to be decided. It is thought that carbon absorption is 300-350 tonnes per hectare and each tonne will generate 10-16 USD. The price and income will be calculated annually based on financial developments and inflation.

There is now a new agreement between the West Papua provincial government and Asia Pacific Carbon (of Australia).

REDD locations in West Papua are in protected forests. These were selected because of the high level of threat they face due to urban expansion, plus mining such as coal, copper and gold, and other interests.

The conversion of forests in West Papua for economic growth is increasing: there are plans to develop oil palm plantations, sago, mining, transmigration and so on. This is evident from the increase in the number of companies wanting to carry out environmental impacts assessments for such projects.

BPKH (the Forest Area Mapping Agency of the Forestry Service) is currently making a map of forest management units (KPH) in West Papua and Manokwari district. It is hoped that this map will be a tool for the carbon trade, to find potential locations and will support the calculation of carbon produced.

Policy in Papua

REDD in Indonesia has been described as a national approach to be implemented at sub-national level. This means the overarching policy and incentive framework comes from the central government and the details for implementation rest with the provinces and/or regional government and related stakeholders.

Papuan regional legislation, which provides the legal framework for implementing REDD in Papua, recognises rights and customary forests and emphasises community-based forest management. Using provincial regulations and guidance from the decisions made by the forestry ministry on REDD, the Papuan government – supported by civil society, universities, indigenous communities and other key actors – planned to establish a Forest Carbon (REDD) Papua Task Force. This Task Force was appointed by governor’s decree at the beginning of 2011. The group’s aim is to assist the Papuan government to translate, develop and coordinate policy approaches and positive incentives coming from the national and international levels, for the provincial level and main districts involved. In practice, local community involvement is limited and the project is not in line with community interests.

There is still very little knowledge and technical capacity among local government officers and related government agencies, CSOs – let alone communities living in West Papua province – about climate change and the carbon trade. There is little knowledge about national policies, international commitments on climate change, best practice for forest management, carbon trade mechanisms, the logging moratorium, schemes to reduce forest destruction and reduce emissions, and their benefits and impacts.

There have been several meetings to discuss the carbon trade, but no follow-up, and no sign of policies or programmes by the provincial and district governments to implement it. These meetings are still very limited in that they do not involve civil society, local peoples organisations such as DAP [Dewan Adat Papua – Papuan Customary Council], LMA [Lembaga Masyarakat Adat – Indigenous Peoples’ Council] or the MRP [Majelis Rakyat Papua – Papuan Peoples Assembly], NGOs or community representatives in West Papua. This lack of involvement, it is feared, will give rise to negative impacts in planning and implementing programmes.

The TGHK [Tata Guna Hutan Sepekatan – agreed forest use] map and delineation of forest boundaries still does not exist and there is no clear discussion about it, due to the tussle between interests and concepts of state land and customary land. The draft spatial plan for West Papua province and for Manokwari district does not exist and hasn’t been discussed.

The main people who hold rights over the target of REDD+ (land, forest and peat) do not understand and are not adequately involved in reaching a consensus at national and local level, to determine the preparations for implementing REDD+. This is what happened with the carbon trading project initiated by the West Papua provincial government and CSI.

What’s needed for REDD?

Max. J. Tokede from UNIPA Manokwari explained what needs to be done to prepare for REDD as follows: first, increase monitoring capacity to detect changes in carbon storage in Papua and West Papua provinces. This consists of: remote sensing (satellite imaging); monitoring from the air; community-based monitoring on the ground; support for activities to monitor forests and timber trade by the Forestry Service and communities. Second, pilot activities for fair incentives to protect the forest, including spatial planning and changes in forest function, mapping indigenous communities’ forests in pilot locations; building village institutions to manage incentive payments to prevent deforestation and create alternatives for income generation; building capacity for certified sustainable community logging, and developing participatory monitoring and protection systems.

Meanwhile, the REDD funding mechanism in Papua needs, among other things, to cover funding support for community development by opening village accounts; funding support for groups or individuals for community-based forest patrols and protection with group/individual accounts; and a savings and loan fund to develop small and medium businesses in villages. There also needs to be capacity at regional government level to facilitate funding for project management, funding for carbon monitoring and law enforcement, and funding for general community development (education/health/economic development). There also needs to be Technical Assistance to enable REDD to run smoothly.

Indigenous Rights

The real question is, will any benefits reach Indigenous Peoples who hold full rights over their forests? Will the Indonesian government say indigenous peoples who are set up as a legal entity will still be able to access natural resources in forests, as long as they don’t cut trees, and will be able to profit from REDD? There are clearly still questions to be answered about setting up as a legal entity for indigenous communities: what about those who don’t have this legal status? If indigenous peoples can acquire this status, how do they go about it? It will be no easy process, no matter how straightforward it might appear. In this context, the state must first of all recognise the existence of indigenous peoples. Industrialised countries like the EU nations, Japan, USA and Norway are ready to fund REDD projects. Some of the schemes will pay USD10 per tonne of carbon. However, will the indigenous peoples of Papua benefit from these grants? It is not yet certain.

Protecting forests for the future, or managing them sustainably has been something generations of indigenous peoples have known about. There are sacred forests or taboo places within forests which are still integral to indigenous people’s lives. Now the modern world knows these sacred forests as conservation forests. The way forests are used by indigenous peoples guarantees conservation and sustainability. They use simple technology and take only what they need for daily needs.

Director of the NGO PERDU Manokwari, Mujianto, explains that based on a study by PERDU in Kaimana district – an area which has been scoped and nominated by the West Papua provincial government as a REDD and carbon trade project area – government permits are still mostly given to entrepreneurs and companies. Post OHL II [OHL II is the second police operation against illegal logging], there are practically no licences for local communities, Kopermas [the state-sanctioned community cooperatives] aren’t functioning, although local people do use cut timber in very limited volumes to take advantage of local markets available. The likelihood of the natural forests disappearing will increase as capital flows into this area for investment in various natural resources sectors (plantations, mining etc).

“Meanwhile, if we look back into the past… for generations local people’s livelihoods have depended on natural resources, including forest resources; forest management and use was done using simple methods based on local knowledge; fresh water needs, animal protein and ingredients for food and medicines, building materials were taken from their forest areas. Forest exploitation is still limited to supplying household needs and does not need destructive technology. In this case, forest-dwelling indigenous peoples are far more expert in safeguarding the forests for REDD projects. But if forests are turned into oxygen or carbon trading business, then local people have to be directly and fully involved, including in getting cash compensation”, according to Muji.

JASOIL’s role

REDD projects and other initiatives keep being rolled out but there is no sign that inadequate policies will be amended or the low level of political commitment shown by decision-makers and project initiators will be improved to project community rights. This is leading to fears that there will be distortions and conflicts of interests, that social conflict will spread, and that, in turn, the environment will not be protected, and GHG emissions will continue to rise, while communities become increasingly impoverished.

What ideas and actions do we need in this situation? Grassroots actions at community level are required, especially for those who will be affected directly by REDD+ projects. JASOIL Tanah Papua believes that two things can be done:

  1. step up the readiness, unity and strengthening of community rights so that their bargaining position is improved and there is more community cohesion for influencing and determining all development projects and policies which take place on their land and will affect their lives;
  2. increase community capacity for involvement in monitoring all stages of provincial REDD+ pilot projects and other REDD+ projects at district level and for involvement in corrective actions.

PHOTO Credit: West Papua Media Info.

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3 Comments

  1. I asked Carbon Strategic about the company’s service agreement with the Governor of West Papua. “West Papua: Due to confidentiality agreements I am not at liberty of discussing this matter,” replied Jeff Flood of Carbon Strategic.

  2. Please note that Mr Jeff Flood and his company Carbon Strategic have no carbon service agreement with the Province of West Papua.
    Asia Pacific Carbon (APC) has since April 2010 exclusively held the only carbon service agreement with the Province of West Papua.
    Please further note that APC in partnership with the Province of West Papua through its BUMD (Badan Usaha Milik Daerah) have establsihed the West Papua Forest Carbon Program (WP-FCP).
    Finally, I would like to advise that the link to the WP-FCP in the above article is an unauthorized powerpoint presentation with neither Mr Schultz nor Mr Tyndall having any authorization to make such presentation and further have no involvement with the WP-FCP.
    Any queries relating to the WP-FCP should be directed to APC through info@apcarbon.com or to BUMD Manokwari.
    Thank you.

  3. @Peter N Kane (#2) – Thanks for the clarification.

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