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Indonesia takes steps to halt and accelerate peatswamp loss


The government of Indonesia took a promising step this week by asking World Bank for support in reducing carbon emissions from forest and peatland loss. However, last month, the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture issued a decree (Indonesian / English translation) to open up peatswamp areas for the development of palm oil plantations.

These decisions are conflicting. Wetlands International strongly welcomes Indonesia’s proposal to support investments in reducing greenhouse gases by peatland restoration with the help of the REDD1 programme of the World Bank. The cost effectiveness of reducing emissions through restoration of drained peatlands is enormous since the drainage of 1 meter depth results in up to 90 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per hectare per year.

Under a REDD scheme, peatland restoration can thus clearly provide a major contribution to the mitigation of climate change. The emerging carbon market provides a significant opportunity for the government and local communities in Indonesia to develop alternative and sustainable livelihoods through forest and peatswamp conservation. It would, for the first time, place a high economic value on undrained peatswamp forests.

Restoring degraded peatlands

Wetlands International has worked with the Indonesian government and partners in Central Kalimantan over the last 3 years and demonstrated that drained and degraded peatlands can be restored by closing drainage canals and through reforestation with commercially valuable indigenous tree species. This reduces CO2 emissions and can even result in a process of carbon sequestration, while benefiting biodiversity and providing new opportunities for local livelihoods.

Controversial palm oil decree

Wetlands International is concerned that this promising and economically attractive development could be jeopardized  by the recently issued decree of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture to allow further conversion of peatlands to oilpalm plantations, that will lead to country wide increased greenhouse gas emissions instead of reductions. Receiving funds for REDD projects to reduce emissions in some areas while accelerating emissions in other locations amounts to “carbon leakage” and undermines the effectiveness and credibility of the initiative.

To be successful in reducing CO2 emissions, REDD requires a country-wide approach. Wetlands International urges the Indonesian government to take a leading role in ensuring the REDD programme is effectively implemented as a sustainable development solution for its peatlands and offers its support for this purpose. 


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Alex Kaat
+31 (0)6 50601917



The Decree of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture (Indonesian)

English translation of the decree

Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), Readiness Plan Indonesia (R-Plan) Template and Guidance,  WORKING VERSION 2: October 16, 2008  

Indonesia REDD consolidation plan, Ministry of Forestry Republic of Indonesia, 2008

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