Indonesia Study Group
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
June 27, 2012
Lecture Theatre 2, Ground Fl, Hedley Bull Building, Fellows Rd, ANU
A very real and practical contribution? Lessons from the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership
Erik Olbrei (Development Policy Centre, ANU)
On 9 September 2007, Australian Ministers and the Indonesian President announced a $100 million Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP). This would involve protecting 70,000 hectares of peat forests, re-flooding 200,000 hectares of dried peatland, and planting 100 million trees in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Since then, the ambitions of KFCP have been quietly but drastically scaled back. The area expected to be re-flooded by the project is now just over 10 per cent of the original target. And little progress has been made on the ground. Four years on, blocking of the large canals required for re-flooding has yet to commence, and only 50,000 trees have been planted against the initial target of 100 million. What has happened to what was labelled at its launch as “a very real and very practical contribution”, one which would yield “immediate and tangible results”? We analyse KFCP both as an aid “announceable” and as a REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) demonstration project, and reach two main conclusions. First, KFCP illustrates the damage that an emphasis on announcing new projects and a lack of attention to reporting on project progress can cause aid. Not enough has been done to publicly reposition KFCP as a much smaller, demonstration project. Second, slow progress made in implementing KFCP (and other REDD projects), when juxtaposed against the continued rapid rate of land conversion in Indonesia, suggests that the current approach is not working. There is no easy solution. Reducing deforestation in Indonesia is a difficult task because the drivers of deforestation – which range from weak governance to a strong industry lobby and the attractive economics of palm oil – are strong and difficult to tackle. If it is worth continuing, then the focus on pilots and processes which has characterised Australia’s engagement in Indonesia’s forestry sector in recent years should be re-oriented towards a more ambitious engagement. This should be supported by a vigorous high-level policy dialogue and at least the realistic prospect of a large amount of public funds.
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