Back in June 2013 I wrote a blog on the Ribma Raya project in a prime area for Orang Utan conservation in Kalimantan, Indonesia. I reported how through various political machinations it became the first and largest REDD project in the region. That is, it was the focus of a scheme based on carbon credits targeted at Reducing Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation. such schemes are seen as really significant in global efforts to help reduce biodiversity loss; indeed they were one of the ‘novel financing methods’ which were called for by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya in 2010.
Now comes news of another significant development in Indonesia, this time on the island of Bali. In 2012 a consortium of key parties, led by the University of Columbia announced at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development that they had developed a new and refined financing model for forest conservation. One of the significant issues of these sorts of scheme is how they are standardized, Just how is the carbon captured and retained in the forest ecosystem measured? How do you measure the area’s biodiversity and how well it is being preserved? Without clear standards the finance systems are open to abuse and the value of the credits would be dubious – a big negative for potential investors such as the governments of industrial nations and polluting companies who need to address their carbon use in these market mechanisms. Poor accreditation would of course also leave the system open to abuse to the detriment of the natural environment and biodiversity. What the consortium announced in 2010 was the establishment of a set of standards known as RFS (Rain Forest Standard) which meets what is known as REDD+ the (+) representing not just carbon storage protection but biodiversity protection too. In fact the standard integrates protocols for carbon accounting with sociocultural/socioeconomic impacts and biodiversity outcomes. At the heart of the RFS is a commitment that to conserve forests the emissions reduction must be permanent, and that this can only be achieved through a commitment to protect biodiversity and provide real, sustainable livelihoods for local people.
The news from the Jakarta Post Indonesia is that the standard has been developed on the ground for the West Bali National Park to be used in a pilot project for the region. There it will be tested and adjusted to local conditions in what is a relatively well managed area; so that it supports the conservation role of government and the local community’s needs. The mechanism is managed through a local stakeholder ‘sustainable management group’ who ensure that the mechanisms are in place to manage and monitor the forest. The projects aims to confirm the standard and management approach within two years; with the presumption that it can be applied more widely towards preserving more of Indonesia’s disappearing forests – which is significant as we know Indonesia’s sprawl of islands encompass around a 1/3 of the world’s remaining tropical forest.