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Tracking private finance in tropical forest countries – COP26 side event

By Adeline Dontenville

On the second day of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, world leaders announced a pledge to save and restore our planet’s forests. With that deal came a long list of commitments from public and private sector actors to combat deforestation.

These included ambitious financial commitments to support forest protection and zero-deforestation commodities - including $7.2bn from the private sector - as well as commitments to align investments to sustainable land-use objectives. For instance, CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions, with over $8.7 trillion of global assets, have committed to eliminate investments in activities linked to agricultural commodity-driven deforestation. These commitments add up to almost a decade of announcements aimed at mobilizing private finance to support forests.

Despite this global recognition of the importance of unlocking private finance at scale to address deforestation, there is still very limited information available on the volume of capital flows into land use. These financial flows are not tracked or reported consistently. Monitoring of private finance is challenging across any sector, yet tracking flows related to land-use change in tropical forest countries is particularly challenging for many reasons. These include the issue of defining what constitutes sustainable land-use; the difficulties in accessing disaggregated data on private flows due to confidentiality and market regulations; and the very nature of land-use activities which are embedded into often largely informal rural economies.

Building robust approaches to track private flows in land-use is essential to increase the transparency of investments impacting forests and ecosystems, hold actors accountable to their commitments, and measure progress.

On 8 November, the EU REDD Facility hosted a COP26 side event to explore tracking private finance in tropical forest countries. The virtual event provided a public platform for practitioners who are paving the way towards building approaches that shed light on the private sector’s role in financing nature-based solutions and sustainable land-use.

Three presenters spoke to this topic from different angles:

  • The Forest Stewardship Council’s Chief Climate and Ecosystems Officer Asger Olesen discussed the diversity of angles through which private land-use investments can be approached, and made practical recommendations on how to implement tracking studies.
  • Gabriela Coser from Climate Policy Initiative shared a country perspective, namely Brazil’s experience in identifying private investments into land-use, and lessons learnt from that comprehensive exercise. The study demonstrated that supporting tropical forest countries in understanding their financial landscapes and the leverage effect of their public policies is key to enhancing domestic resource mobilisation efforts.
  • Ivo Mulder, head of UNEP’s climate finance unit, presented results of UNEP’s efforts in quantifying global investments into nature-based solutions, and described concrete steps for action to deliver on the ambitious pledges coming out of COP26.

Their remarks were followed by a question and answer session. We invite you to watch the event recording.


Adeline Dontenville

Land-use finance expert

EU REDD Facility

 

Taking stock of national climate plans: what’s in it for forests?

By Alice Bisiaux


In the lead up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, each country was asked to outline its post-2020 climate plans, known as their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Taken collectively, the initial plans put forward by countries did not go far enough to reach the Agreement’s goal: to limit global average temperature rise to “well below” 2 ºC above pre-industrial levels, and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 ºC.

However, the Paris Agreement gives countries the opportunity to increase their climate ambition, by updating their NDCs every five years. It’s now time to take stock: have countries’ revised climate plans matched the increase in ambition needed to effectively address climate change?
 

Nature-based solutions as an opportunity for raising climate ambition 

For countries updating their plans to take more ambitious action on climate change, nature-based solutions offer essential tools and opportunities. Conserving, restoring and improving management of forests, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands can deliver a third of cuts in emissions needed by 2030 to help keep warming below 2 °C. These nature-based solutions also help countries and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A large majority of the first round of NDCs included nature-based solutions in one form or another, but overall, these pledges were not quantified and did not outline coherent strategies for achieving them. Moreover, most didn’t consider the forest and land-use governance reforms that are essential to their implementation. The NDC revision process therefore provided an opportunity to strengthen the role of these natural solutions.

The EU REDD Facility has assessed the revised NDCs of several of its partner countries, and that of Brazil. Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia are home to four of the top five largest remaining tropical forests. Looking at these countries as well as Cameroon, Ghana, Laos, Liberia, the Republic of the Congo (RoC), Thailand and Vietnam, a very mixed picture emerges in terms of increased ambition generally, and of the treatment of nature-based solutions in particular. 


Colombia’s updated NDC is one of the most ambitious of Latin America, it is 6–22% stronger than the first NDC. It includes agricultural sector mitigation targets on coffee by Jess Kraft
 

Have countries ramped up their climate ambition?

On overall pledges to reduce emissions, the glass is half full. Some countries have ramped up ambition in varying degrees, such as Colombia, Cameroon, DRC, Laos or Vietnam. Others, such as Ghana, Indonesia or Thailand, have resubmitted their 2015 pledges, while RoC has reduced its mitigation ambition.

In terms of NDC scope, the revision process has led most countries, apart from Thailand and Ghana, to cover more sectors and greenhouse gases than in their initial contributions. For example, Liberia’s revised NDC covers emissions from the forest sector, which were excluded in its first NDC.
 

A missed opportunity for the forest and land-use sector

In their revised NDCs, countries have an opportunity to be clearer and more specific by adopting measurable targets and explaining how they were calculated. To help determine how they can be supported to achieve their climate targets, they can also be clearer about their financial needs. On these aspects, overall, the revised climate plans we analysed made progress. For example, Colombia, Liberia and Vietnam, which had not provided cost estimates in their first NDCs, did so in their revised submissions. Cameroon, Colombia and DRC also detailed the emission estimates for each sector and planned activity.

More countries have included an overall target for the agriculture, forest and land sector in their revised NDCs, including Colombia and Liberia. All countries assessed, other than Thailand, put forward at least one quantified target related to this sector: 

  • All countries but Cameroon, Thailand and DRC have reduced deforestation targets. 
  • Cameroon, Colombia, Liberia, Thailand, Laos, RoC, DRC and Indonesia mention restoration efforts.
  • Laos and Vietnam have quantified forest cover targets.
  • Cameroon, Colombia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Liberia and DRC refer to protected areas.

Nonetheless, numerous forest-related targets are still unquantified. This is a missed opportunity to enhance understanding towards countries’ commitments, raise the profile of the agriculture, forest and land sector and attract more public and private support.
 

Giving forest governance efforts the place they deserve

Overall, forest governance is still insufficiently addressed in the revised NDCs. Few mention participatory processes, indigenous and local communities’ rights, land tenure or forest monitoring efforts. And when governance issues are mentioned, they are often not adequately articulated to ensure they will be integrated into the NDC’s implementation:

  • Conflicting interests and competition over land and resources have been major driving forces of deforestation, forest degradation, soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. However, only Cameroon, Colombia, Laos, Liberia and Indonesia make reference to land-use planning efforts. 
  • While Cameroon, Colombia, RoC, DRC and Liberia refer to gender, Colombia, and to some extent, Cameroon, are the only countries to detail how such considerations will be taken into account in implementation.   
  • Nine of the ten countries analysed are either negotiating or implementing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) with the EU. But DRC is the only country to refer to the gains achieved through its VPA negotiation. 
  • All countries but Cameroon and Thailand mention REDD+. However, often, these are general mentions and the link with the implementation of the national REDD+ strategy is not clearly articulated.


The revised NDC of Vietnam includes the objective of protecting, conserving and sustainably using forests and forest land to increase carbon sequestration and forest certification by Robin Kay
 

Considering deforestation drivers and trade-offs among sectors

Most deforestation drivers, such as agricultural expansion, mining or the collection of fuelwood, come from outside the forest sector. A number of revised NDCs address them:

  • Cameroon, Colombia, Ghana, Laos, Liberia and DRC mention efficient cookstoves or efficient charcoal/clean cooking technology. 
  • Liberia includes the goal to implement a net-zero deforestation mining policy by 2030. 
  • Many countries refer to climate-smart agriculture, increased productivity and agroforestry.

However, only Colombia, Liberia and DRC clearly draw links among sectors.

Other countries, such as Laos and Indonesia, present renewable energy targets that rely heavily on biomass or hydropower, which carry the risk of driving deforestation. These countries do not analyse the potential impact of these energy or agricultural targets on achieving their forest and land-use objectives.

The small number of countries that analyse the trade-offs across sectors of their NDC pledges illustrates that inter-ministerial coordination is still often lagging.

Liberia is one of the few countries that mentions the creation of an inter-ministerial task force on land-use planning to ensure coherence in NDC implementation. However, this task force does not include the energy and mining sector stakeholders, although mining and charcoal and biofuels production could have significant impacts on the forest emissions of this country. RoC also envisages the creation of an institutional mechanism to ensure inter-ministerial coordination. However, its articulation with the existing relevant coordination mechanisms in the country is unclear.
 

Revised NDCs as strategic planning documents

Overall, many of the revised NDCs analysed do not read like strategic documents integrating existing and planned national policies. For example, revised NDCs should draw linkages with the SDGs to ensure and assess the alignment and integration of climate-related policies and measures with development needs and strategies. The alignment of these two agendas, as well as with other relevant processes, such as national adaptation plans or FLEGT processes, is imperative to increase efficiency and maximise resources, technical capacity and expertise sharing. While more countries have drawn links with the SDGs in their revised NDCs, in many cases, such as in Liberia, Ghana or RoC, only general references to the SDGs are made, without specific information on how synergies and coordination will be ensured.
 

Paving the way to partnerships

Achieving the objective of the Paris Agreement will depend on countries’ ability to turn their climate plans into action and work towards more ambition. By enhancing the forest sector components of their NDCs, Colombia, DRC, Liberia and Laos have paved the way to achieving their mitigation and adaptation goals. They have also raised the profile of the forest sector to attract the required investments and support to implement nature-based solutions. The increased granularity and ambition contained in these NDCs can provide the basis for future partnerships with national and international stakeholders to design and implement effective agricultural, forest and land sector policies. More countries would do well to follow suit.


Alice Bisiaux

Legal expert

EU REDD Facility

 

The lessons of COVID-19: facilitation for meeting sustainability goals

By Frédéric Baron


When the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I was in Bogota on a work mission, living the last moments of what some could now consider a “normal” professional life. I returned home to Barcelona early and impassively observed how the world was dramatically changing, with a feeling of being useless in the crisis and disrupted in my personal work. Since then, the pandemic has harshly impacted all populations around the globe, in terms of health, of course, but also economically and socially. 

We cannot overlook the impact of the pandemic on the environment too, and the management of natural resources. In Colombia, of the 62 protected areas that fall under the National System of Protected Areas, 25 were engaged in ecotourism, as were 33 of the 59 protected natural areas in Ecuador. Their financial sustainability has been affected as national and international public investments were diverted towards managing the pandemic. There’s now a rising risk of criminal activity such as illegal logging, as resources for forest management decrease and ranger patrols are suspended. At the same time, a lot of cooperation projects aimed at reducing deforestation or improving biodiversity conservation have suffered delays and breaks in their activities. 

Most actors and experts involved in these programmes or working on environmental solutions – including the EU REDD Facility – need to work at a distance, and mostly from home. For everyone in this field, this situation has required creativity, not just to maintain workflows but also to generate tangible results for those who were vulnerable even before the pandemic. As an expert working in international cooperation, this panorama has forced me to reconsider and rethink the modalities and methodologies of our day-to-day work.
 

New technologies as threat and opportunity

One of the biggest personal lessons of these challenging last 18 months has been the urgency of reconnecting actors and stakeholders that are more isolated than ever. Facilitators and/or facilitation skills are greatly necessary if we want to make 2021 and years ahead not “lost years”, but “opportunistic or transition years” in achieving sustainable development goals and Nationally Determined Contributions targets. With or without a pandemic, environmental and social challenges cannot wait until “normality” returns. 

Another lesson has been the potential for information technology and virtual connections. The pandemic accelerated a major modern phenomenon: the rise of the virtual. We have all experienced the massive improvement and democratisation of social media and internet technologies, allowing us to connect and exchange information faster, from long distance, and at any time. But this is just one edge of the sword. All technologies can also serve bad intentions. We can be quantitatively more informed, but qualitatively less so. We may be connected to more people, but maybe less well connected. With the pandemic having generated global fear and insecurity, the misuse of virtual technologies contributed, in some cases, to compromising trust amongst people, organisations, and governments. What we call “common sense” or consensus may now seem harder to achieve. Now more than ever we see the need for well-informed and open dialogue, and processes for facilitation. If used correctly, social and information technologies can afford great opportunities.


Central African rainforest by Travel Stock
 

Dialogue and consensus through facilitation

Within the EU REDD Facility team, I’m focusing on our Latin America partner countries, Colombia and Ecuador, along with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When looking at the complex nature and diverse drivers of deforestation in these countries, there is general agreement that there are no “silver bullet” solutions for national REDD+ objectives. Rather, what’s needed is mechanisms that provide flexibility and the capacity to adapt to different sectors, local contexts and actors. 

Through my work in Colombia, I’ve supported the development of local intercultural land-use governance mechanisms in the Amazonian area of Caquetá, where significant deforestation occurs. This project took place over several local administrative areas known as “veredas” of the Solano municipality, just at the deforestation frontier. The main challenge has been dialogue between indigenous Inga people and local cattle ranchers, to develop consensus on land-use management and reducing deforestation while ensuring a decent living income for farmers. What struck me from the beginning is that the real bottleneck preventing dialogue – and thus consensus on action and co-management of the territory – wasn’t discrepancies in visions and culture between communities. Rather, it was ignorance and lack of knowledge and understanding of each other. Once the first steps of the facilitation process allowed both communities to come to know and better understand each other’s perspectives and governance mechanisms, a dialogue became possible. 

The lesson here has been that negotiations, dialogue, and consensus can be achieved if a facilitating third party can ensure this first layer of knowledge and understanding. It does not mean that the way towards a final agreement will be easy, but certainly easier and possible. 

Thus, for our 2021 support to these three countries, we decided to increase the facilitation component of our work to generate technical dialogue – first to share information and generate common knowledge, and then to identify potential solutions or mechanisms to improve governance and sustainability of land use. Of course, our plan is to do this virtually, given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
 

Towards a common understanding and feasibility of traceability and transparency

In both Colombia and Ecuador, the cocoa sector involves several actors with varied interests. Colombia’s cocoa market is characterised by strong internal demand for chocolate (80% of cocoa produced is consumed locally) while Ecuador has a significant cocoa export market (85% of national production is exported). Both countries registered great production increases in the last years: between 2000 and 2017, Colombia’s total cocoa production has doubled while Ecuador registered almost a six-fold increase in cocoa. Ecuador is now the third-largest cocoa producer country worldwide, with 7% of global production. While cocoa is not considered a driver of deforestation in these countries, the expansion of land for cocoa cultivation has been increasing since 2007 and poses a potential risk for deforestation in the future, along with associated social and environmental risks. 

In this context, traceability and transparency systems are crucial for identifying, monitoring and tackling environmental and social issues in supply chains. 

Traceability refers to methods of tracing a commodity through the supply chain, while transparency is the disclosure of sourcing information to increase the accountability of relevant stakeholders. However, the exact definition of these concepts is not always the same amongst supply-chain actors, and the use of such systems is not always associated with the same objectives. It has led to the current situation where actors with enough financial capacity have developed their own private traceability systems, sharing only a small part of their database publically, and withholding data from existing national monitoring systems. 

COVID-19 and its related restrictions has reduced access to information and deeply modified our economies, putting many sectors in a fragile position. Ignorance and poverty are the enemy of good governance, and persistent asymmetry of information will never allow for social and environmental sustainability and justice. There is need for a common understanding and definition of concepts of traceability and transparency and what they serve. Adequate systems also need to be designed through participatory processes. If not, traceability will only empower the upstream side of supply chains where the bulk of information and data will circulate, not always for or with full transparency. For unscrupulous business operators, maintaining the ignorance of clients, competitors and even partners can be used for competitive advantage. Reducing the asymmetry of information by promoting more transparent traceability systems would lead to improved governance of supply chains.

The EU REDD Facility facilitated technical and multi-stakeholder dialogues in Ecuador and Colombia, virtually, to evaluate the feasibility and options for national traceability and transparency systems (in line with the Transparency Pathway tool developed by the EU REDD Facility). We are now finalising proposals to be used as the basis for further political dialogue and decisions.


Dried cocoa seeds by Joel Bubble Ben
 

Civil society preparations for DRC’s national forest policy development

In DRC’s climate change and deforestation policy process, national civil society organisations (CSOs) are officially represented under the umbrella of the national Groupe de Travail-Rénové REDD network, or GTCR-R. Created in 2013, the network has proven its capacity to improve coordination amongst its members and to some extent to influence DRC decision and policy-making processes.

However, as in many countries in the region, civil society is sometimes involved only after the design phase of a project, a programme or a policy document, during the “consultation” phase for their validation. To change this paradigm, with GTCR-R and its members, the EU REDD Facility chose to organise an “ex-ante consultation”, or what we decided to call a “concertation”. In this new process, two aims were achieved:

  • Capturing the diverse visions of CSOs, along with their propositions for the future forest sector regulatory and policy framework. 
  • Demonstrating the capacity of national CSOs to generate information and data, and to be considered as a starting partner rather than just a “validation” partner.

As in Latin America, COVID-19 increased isolation of remote actors in many African countries and it has been quite challenging to support such dialogue from a distance, with technology as our only option. However, this experience showed a better capacity to adapt than expected, and this should be reinforced in the future.

The final civil society position paper will be considered as a relevant basis for the Sustainable Management Programme soon to be launched. This programme has the objective (amongst others) of elaborating a national Forest Policy.

This concertation process amongst CSOs did not bring full consensus on the orientations and recommendations for the future policy, but it did help to nuance and somewhat soften initial and purely ideological positions, and even sometimes build bridges between positions. More importantly, by sharing the same level of information in a transparent way, conflicts over facts were eventually set aside to concentrate on needed solutions. In my view, that is already half the problem solved.

Of course, the reality of decision-making processes is complex, and does not succeed only through facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue with technical information. Even more when this facilitation is done virtually. However, having those two elements will always catalyse and prepare a solid and recognised basis, as well as generate information that is valuable and additional to what an ad hoc expert analysis could provide.

This pandemic made facilitation activities complicated, but at the same time more needed than before. We should take available technologies and virtual options as opportunities to do our best. I’m convinced that facilitation is more crucial now than ever. We cannot let global health crises like this pandemic separate us more than we already were.

 


Frédéric Baron

Forest and land-use governance expert

EU REDD Facility

 

Hutan adat dan pengelolaan kayu: langkah ke depan bagi Indonesia

By Satrio A. Wicaksono and Paramita L. Iswari


Masyarakat adat melindungi, mengelola, dan memanfaatkan hutan mereka dengan berbagai cara. Misalnya, beberapa masyarakat adat menebang dan menjual kayu yang mereka peroleh sebagai sumber mata pencaharian.  Penelitian terbaru menunjukkan bahwa dukungan yang diberikan kepada masyarakat adat untuk mengelola hutan yang menjadi sumber mata pencaharian mereka akan membantu mengurangi laju deforestasi di negara-negara tropis.

Sejak zaman dahulu, masyarakat adat Padang Hilalang di Provinsi Sumatra Barat, Indonesia, mengelola 20.000 hektare hutan di dekat daerah pemukiman mereka.  Di daerah ini, sama seperti di wilayah adat lainnya, masyarakat tidak memiliki hak penuh untuk secara legal menebang, menjual atau mengangkut kayu. Hal ini dikarenakan pohon yang tumbuh secara alami di kawasan hutan adat tidak diatur dalam Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu – SVLK, yang digunakan untuk memastikan legalitas kayu yang berasal dari hutan negara dan hutan hak di Indonesia.
 

Mengakomodir kayu dari hutan adat dalam Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu Indonesia

EU REDD Facility melakukan studi melalui kerja sama dengan Organisasi Masyarakat Sipil Indonesia (KARSA) untuk mengeksplorasi berbagai opsi dalam mengintegrasikan hutan adat ke dalam SVLK Indonesia serta melakukan penilaian terhadap berbagai opsi produksi dan perdagangan kayu yang berasal dari hutan adat secara legal dan berkelanjutan. Padang Hilalang adalah salah satu dari tiga masyarakat adat yang tercakup di dalam studi ini. Dua kelompok masyarakat lainnya adalah Dayak Tomun di Kalimantan Barat dan Oktim Orya di Papua. Studi tersebut menyoroti kesenjangan antara penebangan kayu dan penjualan kayu yang dilakukan oleh masyarakat adat saat ini, dengan peraturan yang ada tentang pemanfaatan dan penatausahaan hasil hutan.

Penelitian lapangan dalam studi ini menyediakan informasi tentang bagaimana masyarakat adat tersebut berupaya untuk mendapatkan pengakuan hukum atas status kepemilikan dan hak mereka atas hutan tersebut, cara mereka mengelola hutan dan hasil hutan kayu, serta tantangan yang mereka hadapi dan aspirasi mereka terkait pengelolaan hutan dan kayu.

Studi yang dilakukan – “Potensi untuk mengintegrasikan hutan adat ke dalam Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK) Indonesia” – mencakup analisis hukum yang mendalam dan dilakukan untuk mendukung klausul yang ada di dalam Kesepakatan Kemitraan Sukarela (VPA) antara Indonesia dan Uni Eropa (EU) tentang Penegakan Hukum, Tata Kelola, dan Perdagangan Sektor Kehutanan (FLEGT). Klausul tersebut menyatakan bahwa harus disertakan perubahan terkait hutan adat di dalam prosedur SVLK untuk mencerminkan pengadopsian putusan penting Mahkamah Konstitusi Indonesia tahun 2013, yang membatalkan ketentuan dalam Undang-Undang tentang Kehutanan yang menyatakan bahwa hutan adat adalah bagian dari Kawasan Hutan Negara. FLEGT VPA adalah kesepakatan perdagangan bilateral yang mengikat secara hukum serta bertujuan untuk meningkatkan tata kelola hutan dan mendorong perdagangan kayu legal dari Indonesia ke EU.


Diskusi dengan ninik mamak (ketua adat) masyarakat adat Padang Hilalang di Sumatra Barat, Indonesia. Sumber: Pandong Spenra, KARSA

Praktik penebangan dan perdagangan kayu saat ini

Di Padang Hilalang, tanah adat masuk ke dalam dua kategori hutan yang ditetapkan oleh Pemerintah, yaitu 'hutan produksi' dan 'area penggunaan lain'.  Tetua adat masyarakat, yakni para ninik mamak, memberi arahan pengelolaan tanah adat dan sumber daya, yang mencakup komoditas kayu.  Dalam lima tahun terakhir, masyarakat adat ini telah mengizinkan dua perusahaan setempat untuk menebang kayu dari tanah masyarakat adat yang berstatus 'area penggunaan lain'.  Peraturan yang berlaku tentang legalitas kayu menetapkan bahwa tidak semua jenis kayu dari hutan hak dapat ditebang.  Hanya kayu yang “dibudidayakan” dari tegakan pohon non-alami yang dapat ditebang di wilayah adat. 

Dalam inventarisasi tegakan sebelum penebangan, masyarakat adat Padang Hilalang memastikan bahwa perusahaan hanya akan menebang jenis kayu tertentu yang berada di luar daerah keramat bagi masyarakat, seperti makam leluhur. Inventarisasi juga melibatkan petugas dari Kesatuan Pengelolaan Hutan terdekat yang dibentuk oleh Pemerintah. Selama ini, penebangan kayu telah dilakukan di kurang dari sepuluh persen tanah adat Padang Hilalang.  

Kesepakatan antara masyarakat adat dan perusahaan yang melakukan penebangan mencakup mekanisme pembagian keuntungan berdasarkan volume dan jenis kayu yang ditebang. Perusahaan juga membantu menyiapkan dokumen angkutan kayu yang diperlukan, yang akan diterbitkan oleh anggota masyarakat adat.  Nota Angkutan yang dilengkapi dengan surat yang menjelaskan status tanah adat yang dikeluarkan oleh ninik mamak akan memastikan legalitas kayu yang dipanen di areal penggunaan lain Padang Hilalang.  Kayu yang berasal dari Padang Hilalang umumnya digunakan sebagai material untuk industri mebel di provinsi Sumatra Barat.
 

Jalur untuk mendapatkan pengakuan hutan adat

Masyarakat adat Padang Hilalang, seperti sebagian masyarakat adat di daerah-daerah lain di Indonesia, berharap agar Pemerintah mengizinkan mereka menebang kayu dari seluruh bagian tanah mereka.  Bagi mereka, kesempatan untuk menebang kayu – kayu budidaya dan kayu alam – merepresentasikan pengakuan atas hak mereka dalam mengelola hutan mereka sendiri. Apalagi, menurut mereka,  perusahaan penebangan kayu telah diberikan hak untuk menebang kayu alam dan kayu budidaya selama beberapa dekade. 

Secara teoritis, setelah dicabutnya ketentuan dalam UU Kehutanan yang menetapkan bahwa hutan adat merupakan bagian dari kawasan hutan negara, ratusan masyarakat adat di seluruh Indonesia – seperti masyarakat Padang Hilalang – kini dapat mengklaim kepemilikan atas hutan setelah klaim mereka diakui Pemerintah. 

Proses yang dijalankan oleh Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Indonesia menawarkan jalur persetujuan yang paling progresif dalam proses pengakuan hutan adat. Walaupun demikian, jalur ini membutuhkan proses yang terdiri dari dua langkah.  Perwakilan masyarakat adat hanya dapat mengajukan permohonan pengakuan hutan adat setelah masyarakat adat tersebut telah diakui melalui peraturan tingkat kabupaten dan/atau keputusan bupati.


Tanda yang menunjukkan nama dan batas jorong masyarakat adat Padang Hilalang. Di Sumatra Barat, jorong mengacu pada sekelompok rumah tangga dalam pemukiman masyarakat atau desa. Sumber: Pandong Spenra, KARSA
 

Mengurangi ilegalitas dan deforestasi dengan mengakui hutan adat

Amendemen SVLK untuk mengintegrasikan kayu dari hutan adat sesuai dengan mandat Kesepakatan Kemitraan Sukarela antara Indonesia dan Uni Eropa tentang Penegakan Hukum, Tata Kelola dan Perdagangan Sektor Kehutanan akan menyediakan sumber mata pencaharian bagi masyarakat adat, sekaligus mengurangi ilegalitas, deforestasi, dan degradasi hutan.

Masyarakat adat di Padang Hilalang belum diakui sebagai masyarakat adat berdasarkan  hukum Indonesia dan proses untuk mendapatkan pengakuan sebagai sebuah masyarakat adat membutuhkan banyak biaya dan memakan waktu.  Mereka sudah mulai melibatkan akademisi dari universitas di ibu kota provinsi untuk meningkatkan peluang mendapatkan pengakuan tersebut, serta merasa yakin bahwa ke depan mereka dapat mengelola produksi kayu secara berkelanjutan dan memenuhi persyaratan SVLK untuk melakukan penebangan kayu alam.
 

Mendukung masyarakat adat untuk mengelola hutan secara legal dan lestari

Dari hasil analisis hukum, penelitian lapangan, dan konsultasi multi-pihak, EU REDD Facility dan KARSA telah mengusulkan serangkaian standar dan pedoman verifikasi legalitas kayu khusus untuk hutan adat. Langkah-langkah persiapan tambahan juga telah diidentifikasi untuk mendukung masyarakat adat dalam mengelola hutan mereka secara lestari, serta untuk berpartisipasi dalam sistem verifikasi legalitas kayu, jika mereka berencana untuk menebang dan menjual hasil hutan secara komersial. 

Studi tersebut, yang akan memberikan informasi bagi proses revisi kebijakan tentang SVLK dan hutan adat yang tengah dilakukan oleh Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan berkoordinasi dengan para pemangku kepentingan, merekomendasikan hal-hal berikut:

  • Mempercepat proses pengakuan hutan adat, misalnya dengan menggabungkan proses pengakuan masyarakat adat dengan proses pengakuan hutan adat.
  • Menjadikan proses standar verifikasi legalitas kayu yang tengah diajukan ini sebagai jalur untuk melakukan penebangan kayu secara legal, serta menyediakan bantuan yang dibutuhkan untuk melindungi dari penebangan kayu yang berlebihan dan penyalahgunaan hutan adat.

Secara bersama-sama, upaya-upaya ini seharusnya dapat melindungi hutan adat dari penyalahgunaan dalam bentuk penebangan kayu secara ilegal, sembari meningkatkan kesetaraan bagi kelompok adat.
 


Satrio A.  Wicaksono

Land-use governance expert

EU REDD Facility

 


Paramita L. Iswari

Head

Circle for Rural and Agrarian Reform (KARSA)

 

Customary forests and timber management: a way forward in Indonesia

By Satrio A. Wicaksono and Paramita L. Iswari


Customary and indigenous groups protect, manage, and use their forests in many ways, some relying on logging and the timber trade to support their livelihoods. Supporting customary groups to manage forests that they depend on helps reduce deforestation in tropical countries, recent research suggests.

In Indonesia’s West Sumatra Province, the Padang Hilalang community has traditionally managed some 20 000 hectares of forest near their settlement. Here, as in other customary areas, the community does not have full rights to legally harvest, sell or transport timber. This is because trees growing naturally in customary forests are not regulated under the country’s timber legality assurance system (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu – the SVLK), which ensures the legality of timber sourced from Indonesia’s state and private forests.
 

Accommodating customary forest timber in Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system

To explore options for integrating customary forests into Indonesia’s SVLK and to assess options for legal and sustainable production and trade of timber from customary forests, the EU REDD Facility undertook a study in collaboration with the Indonesian Civil Society Organisation KARSA. Padang Hilalang was one of three customary communities covered by the study. The other two were Dayak Tomun in West Kalimantan and Oktim Orya in Papua. The research highlighted gaps between current timber harvesting and trading practices by customary groups, and existing regulations on use and administration of timber.

The field research component of the study provided insights on how these communities work toward legal recognition of their status and rights over forests, how they manage their forests and timber products, and the challenges they face and their aspiration in relation to forest and timber management.

The overall study – “Potential integration of customary forests into Indonesia’s national timber legality assurance system (SVLK)” – includes an extensive legal analysis, and was conducted in support of a clause in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union (EU) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT). The clause states that changes in the SVLK procedures related to customary forests shall be introduced to reflect the adoption of a landmark ruling in 2013 by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruling, repealing the provision in Indonesia’s Forestry Act stating that customary forests are a part of the State Forest Area. The FLEGT VPA is a legally binding bilateral trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Indonesia to the EU.


Discussion with the ninik mamak, or customary heads, of the Padang Hilalang customary community in West Sumatra, Indonesia by Pandong Spenra, KARSA
 

Existing practice of timber harvesting and trading

In Padang Hilalang, customary land straddles two categories of forest as defined by the Government, which are ‘production forest’ and ‘other use area’. The community customary heads, known as ninik mamak, direct the management of customary land and resources, including timber. In the past five years, they have given the rights to two local companies to harvest timber from the customary community’s land under the ‘other use area’ status. Per existing regulations on timber legality, not all timber from the private forest can be harvested, however. Only “cultivated” timber from the non-natural standing stock can be logged in this customary area.

During the stand inventory before harvesting, Padang Hilalang customary community members ensure that the companies will only log certain timber situated outside the community’s sacred area, such as the ancestors’ graves. The inventory also involves officers from nearby forest management unit established by the Government. Thus far, timber harvesting has been conducted in less than ten percent of the Padang Hilalang customary land.

The agreement between the customary community and the harvesting companies includes benefit-sharing mechanisms based on the volume and type of timber harvested. The companies also help prepare the required timber transport documents, issued by the customary community members. Together with the letter explaining the land’s customary status issued by the ninik mamak, the transport documents ensure the legality of timber harvested in Padang Hilalang’s other use area. Timber from Padang Hilalang has mainly been used as materials for the furniture industry in the province.
 

A path towards customary forest recognition

The Padang Hilalang customary community, like some communities in other parts of Indonesia, would like the Government to consider allowing them to harvest timber from all parts of their land. For them, the opportunity to harvest timber – cultivated and natural – would represent the right to manage their own forests. After all, they argue, logging companies have been given rights to log both natural and cultivated timber for decades.

Theoretically, as a result of the 2013 Constitutional Court repeal of the provision in the Forestry Act defining customary forests as part of the state forest area, hundreds of customary communities across Indonesia – such as the Padang Hilalang community – are now allowed to claim forest ownership through recognition by the Government.

The process administered by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry offers the most well-developed route for customary forest recognition. Even then, this path requires a two-step process. Representatives of customary communities may only submit applications for customary forests once the communities themselves have been recognised through a district-level regulation and/or a decree of the district head.


A sign showing the name and the boundary of a jorong within the Padang Hilalang customary community. In West Sumata, jorong refers to a group of households within a community’s settlement or village by Pandong Spenra, KARSA
 

Reducing illegality and deforestation by recognising customary forests

Amending the SVLK to integrate timber from customary forests as per the mandate of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Indonesia and the European Union on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade would open up livelihood opportunities for customary groups, while also reducing illegality, deforestation, and forest degradation.

The community in Padang Hilalang has not yet been recognised as a customary community according to the Indonesian law, and the process to recognise the customary communities can be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking on its own. They have begun to engage with academics from a university in the provincial capital to help strengthen their case for recognition, confident that they can manage timber production sustainably and meet SVLK requirements for harvesting natural timber.
 

Supporting customary communities to manage their forests legally and sustainably 

Based on legal analyses, field research, and multi-stakeholder consultations, the EU REDD Facility and KARSA have proposed a set of timber legality verification standards and guidelines specific for customary forests. Additional preparatory steps have also been identified to support customary communities to manage their forests sustainably, and to participate in the legality assurance system, should they plan to harvest and sell timber commercially.

The study, which will inform ongoing policy revisions on SVLK and customary forests led by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in coordination with stakeholders, recommends:

  • Expediting the process for customary forests recognition, for example by combining the step to recognise the existence of customary communities with the step to recognise customary forests.
  • Having the proposed legality verification standards as a pathway for harvesting timber legally, along with the necessary assistance to serve as safeguards against overexploitation of timber and misuse of customary forests.

Together, these steps should safeguard against misuse of customary forests for illegal timber, while advancing equity for customary groups. 
 


Satrio A.  Wicaksono

Land-use governance expert

EU REDD Facility

 


Paramita L. Iswari

Head

Circle for Rural and Agrarian Reform (KARSA)

 

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