In the light of the upcoming meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Bali in December this year, Indonesia is receiving growing international attention for the UN led scheme to avoid deforestation.
So far, only reforestation efforts are eligible under Kyoto Protocol to gain carbon credits paid by industrialized countries, which are obliged to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At least Australia,Norway, South Korea, UK and the US have pledged to provide support to Indonesia's proposal to create global fund for reduced emissions from deforestation and destruction. Countries that still have significant forest areas such as Indonesia, Brazil and other Southeast Asia and Latin America countries will enjoy economic benefit while preserving their forest areas. Indonesia is actively advocating its idea in different kinds of international fora, the latest one being the Forum of East Asia and Latin America Countries (FEALAC).
A study using example of peatland swamps in Central Kalimantan done by Starling Resources showed that conserving the areas will bring more revenue and taxes to the government given the current prices of carbon in EU Emission Trading Scheme and Clean Development Mechanism market rather than converting them into oil palm plantation. This conclusion is especially true considering that 90% of the country’s plantations have underpaid their taxes.
After years of rampant logging and destruction notably in Kalimantan and Sumatra, Papua is the only region in Indonesia that still has quite a large amount of virgin forests. Greenpeace notes that there is 17.9 million hectares of forests intact. But at least 9 million hectares or half of it is under serious threats from oil palm companies eager to introduce or expand their plantations. While Jakarta is said to back the oil palm companies, local leaders including Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu appears to be convinced that preservation is better for the Papua people and environment. The governor will certainly get international support that stretches beyond NGOs. Papua can also benefit from the avoided deforestation scheme if this is indeed agreed upon during the meeting in Bali. However, the challenge is that it may take years before it is be able to cash some money.
Another issue that requires international attention is the bird flu epidemic in Indonesia that shows no signal of slowing down. Indonesia still has the highest number of cases and fatalities, and now its popular tourist resort Bali was hit by two fatalities in a row. As part of its efforts to lure tourists back to the country’s most popular tourist destination, Indonesia started to send the bird flu sample from Bali to WHO. Earlier on, Indonesia has stopped sending H5N1 virus samples to the WHO as it awaits assurance that the vaccine developed will not be prohibitively expensive. So far, Japan has committed to provide grants in amount up to 1.7 billion yen or about US$ 14.7 million to help Indonesia combat the bird flu. The pledge was made during Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to Indonesia. (23 August 2007)
Woman latest suspected bird flu casualty (Jakarta Post, 22 August 2007)
Indonesia confirms 2nd bird flu death on Bali (Straits Times, 22 August 2007
Japan to give US$14,8 million to help RI fight bird flu (Jakarta Post, 22 August 2007)
Indonesia tries to lure tourists to Bali after bird flu death (Jakarta Post, 21 August 2007)
Bird flu suspect dies in Bali (Jakarta Post, 21 August 2007)
Indonesia gives WHO samples of Bali bird flu (Straits Times, 22 Augst 2007)
RI brings climate change issue to Brasilia meeting (Jakarta Post, 21 August 2007)
Support growing for RI reforestation fund plan (Jakarta Post, 20 August 2007)
Tussle for Papua's forests (Straits Times, 21 August 2007)
Papua forests at risk: NGO (Jakarta Post, 22 August 2007)
Could peatlands conservation be profitable? (Jakarta Post, 22 August 2007)