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REDD challenges show up in Sumatra

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Issue date: 
Monday, 22 February 2010
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The practical challenges of successfully tackling deforestation and restoring forests in developing countries have been highlighted by problems facing an otherwise successful forestry programme in Indonesia. One of the country’s model community forestry projects is now being compromised by illegal logging with action so far taken by authorities not enough to halt it even though laws exist to do so, the Jakarta Post reports.

The community forest programme in areas of Lampung, on the south east tip of Sumatra, sees 12,000 hectares of land being managed by 6500 local families who preserve and restore standing forest, reforest cleared areas and farm selectively in and around the forest.

But it appears that the programme has become a victim of its own success. Since 2000, the area has been returned from barren land and degraded forest to dense tree cover. So much so that illegal loggers at work in neighbouring national parks have spread their activities to community forest areas. A West Lampung forestry official told the Post that large volumes of illicit timber had been discovered originating from the area.

Locals see the loggers at work but are afraid to challenge them while local authorities appear to treat those caught with a light touch, not persecuting to the full extent of forest protection laws.

The Lampung scenario shows how difficult it can be in developing countries to implement forestry programmes and projects, such as REDD and A/R. Underdeveloped governance infrastructure is characteristic of many developing countries, but it seems the problems are magnified in tropical rainforest nations that are particularly large, sprawling and hard to govern – such as Indonesia, Papua-New Guinea and DR Congo.

Not only is there a significant challenge in the forest carbon and forest preservation sector to deal with these threats inside project boundaries. Leakage issues extend the problem well beyond: Even if illegal logging can be stopped in Lampung community forest areas, how can authorities be sure that the loggers haven’t just moved all their operations back into the national parks or elsewhere?

This is a major question mark for the evolving global UN REDD initiative, aimed at reducing deforestation and its significant contribution to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. The Copenhagen climate conference saw $3.5 billion promised by a group of developing countries to enable capacity to undertake large scale forest preservation in the developing countries paid for by the developed world. There is no framework yet suggested for how that money will be spent, but that amount and probably a lot more is going to be needed to ensure the credibility of REDD programmes.

Illegal loggers target community forests Jakarta Post

West Lampung livelihoods benefit from agroforestry - Watala.org


Extpub | by Dr. Radut