REDD Countries in Asia

REDD in Indonesia

Indonesia is one among 9 countries designated for a REDD readiness program under UN-REDD’s present pilot phase. There are three phases of the REDD mechanism, which are: REDD readiness (FCPF and / or UN-REDD), Reforms and Investments (UN-REDD, FIP) and the Global REDD fund/market (UNFCCC). Indonesia has been involved in all three mechanisms. In 2007, The Indonesia Forest and Climate Alliance (IFCA) conducted a study on REDD in Indonesia, and came out later with a consolidated report titled: IFCA Consolidation Report: REDD, MoFor, 2008. Since Indonesia never submitted an R-PIN to the FCPF, the IFCA Studies and Report has been used as the reference and base for its R-PLAN submitted to the FCPF in May 2009. The first draft of Indonesia’s FCPF R-Plan was dated 16 October 2008, then after having some revisions, the second draft was finalized in May 2009 in time for a Technical Advisory Panel’s (TAP) review and FCPF Participant Committee Meeting in June 2009. Based on the Synthesis Review by TAP members, 2 June 2009, some critical issues were raised on the contents of the R- PLAN. In particular, the consultative process and participation by civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities, has been highly questioned. The TAP members also highlighted the compensatory fast growing timber plantation resource by small holders and the prominent type of land use in Indonesia represented by oil palm plantations. Issues on policies and engagement between government departments were also raised. Indonesia’s R-PLAN was not approved in the meeting.

The total estimate cost for investment and capacity building requirements reflected in the R-Plan is 4 billion USD. Indonesia’s R-Plan was again set for discussion in the FCPF Participant Committee Meeting in Montreux, 16-18 June 2009. The Participant Committee Draft Resolution for approval of Indonesia’s R-Plan will be forwarded to the members of Participant Committee around mid-July to be approved on a no-objection basis. If there’s no consensus on the R-Plan, it will then have to go to a vote in the Fourth Participant Committee Meeting in October 2009.

Regarding the UN-REDD, the Board Members have approved Indonesia’s proposal with a total budget of 5,644,250 USD for the first phase in the First Policy Board Meeting of UN-REDD held in Panama on 9-10 March 2009. Indonesia, together with other UN-REDD program countries, made a presentation on the progress of the program. Indonesia’s report was acknowledged as a comprehensive National Joint Program, although issues on consultation processes and the involvement of civil society and indigenous peoples remain as serious concerns. A representative of the government of Indonesia is also a Board Member of the Forest Investment Program (FIP) of the World Bank. However, the FIP is yet to finish the design of the Investment Programme later in July. Information on the status of the proposal of Indonesia to the FIP, and the processes to be taken at the national level is not yet made available.

REDD in the Lao PDR

The Lao PDR signed UNFCCC on 4/4/1995 and Kyoto Protocol in 2003 and is a Non Annex I Party of the UNFCCC. It submitted its R-PIN on June 12, 2008 and was approved in August 2008. According to the Lao PDR R-PIN, the forested area in Laos decreased from 11.2 million ha in 1992 to 9.8 million in 2002 with an average loss of 134,000 ha per annum, which is equivalent to 0.6 % of the total land area. The main drivers of deforestation are identified as shifting cultivation, commercial tree plantations (such as agar wood and rubber), illegal logging and loss of land to infrastructure, mostly hydropower dams. The underlying causes for these continuing activities are poverty of local farmers, the demand of neighboring countries for timber products, weak implementation of laws due to lack of resources, and corruption.

The government manages natural forests that are classified as production forests, protection forests or conservation forests through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/ Department of Forestry and its local line agencies. Production forests are managed with the participation of village forest organizations receiving benefits from log sales. Village forests are allocated to villagers for their own uses. Degraded forest land can be allocated to rural households for tree planting or leased to investors for tree/crop plantations as land concessions. Planted trees belong to planters.

Engagement of communities in REDD in activities includes voluntary participation of villages in the emission reduction plan and activities based on land use plans and land titling, including phasing out of slash and burn cultivation, sustainable management of village forests, tree planting and/or enrichment planting in watershed areas or degraded common land, village based forest fire control, etc. There is also mention of developing participatory management plans with local villagers for multiple uses of protection, conservation and production forests.

The R-Pin states that village forest is classified into categories (production, protection, conservation, etc.) and that village rules on use of these forests are agreed upon between villages and local authorities. Customary use of forest resources by these people is authorized in the Forestry Law. It also mentions that the land and forest allocation program is under improvement to make it more participatory. A National REDD Coordination Committee (NRCC) consisting of government ministries and agencies concerned is proposed. The NRCC will make decisions on important issues regarding REDD and ensure cross-sectoral coordination. REDD Coordination Committees will be set up at provincial and district levels. The Government – Donor Working Group on Forestry (FSWG) consisting of concerned government organizations, main donors, NGO representatives and private sector representatives will serve as forum for consultation with other stakeholders. Consultation with forest-dwelling indigenous peoples will be made mainly through implementation of the concerned REDD programs.

REDD in Nepal

Nepal submitted its R-PIN to the FCPF in April 2008, and it was accepted by the FCPF in July of the same year. Nepal is currently working on the R-Plan with funding from the FCPF. A newly established Climate Change Cell under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation is in charge of formulating the R-PLAN. Interestingly, the R-PIN states that deforestation in Nepal is directly linked to nationalization of the forests, with a remarkable increase in deforestation after the 1957 nationalization of forests in the country. It also indicates that the future REDD-programmes should build on the community-based management model that is by now well established in the country. Researchers have already made calculations on the carbon stock available in community managed forests, and based on this, estimated how much money trading of these carbon stocks would raise for communities. These estimates show that communities who decide to engage in carbon-trading have a potential for earning much more money in this way, than what they currently gain from trading in non-timber forest products coming form their community forests.25 From a poverty alleviation perspective this is a good argument for promoting REDD in Nepal. For indigenous peoples, however, it underlines the overwhelming importance of securing their tenure and use rights to forest areas, their active engagement in both national level planning and policy making for future REDD programmes, and some sort of safeguard securing their active participation in the local forest governance structures that will be the vehicles for future REDD projects. If these issues are not addressed properly, REDD threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities, and further marginalize indigenous peoples.

The R-PIN does mention that there is a risk that REDD benefits will be diverted through corruption, and that excluded groups must be empowered to address discriminatory practices in society to ensure that REDD benefits reach them. But it does not discuss the issue of indigenous peoples’ intrinsic right to their traditional lands, territories and the resources therein, their right to free, prior and informed consent with regard to how these territories are managed, their right to practice traditional livelihoods if they so wish, and to manage and control their internal affairs through traditional governance structures and in general be actively involved in all decision-making that affects them. Rights that are all enshrined in ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ratified by Nepal in 2007), and in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In general, there is not a single reference in the R-PIN to the international human rights framework. How these crucial issues are addressed in the R-PLAN is something indigenous peoples need to monitor closely. With the R-PIN’s stated commitment to implement a forestry sector programme in a manner that is participatory and user-based, and anchored in the decentralized governance of an envisaged federal Nepal, there is a good point of departure for indigenous rights advocacy in then context of Nepal’s REDD programme. Furthermore, the country’s recent ratification of ILO Convention 169 sets a strong framework for advocating indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of REDD in Nepal.

REDD in Vietnam

The Vietnam government, through the Department of Forestry and International Cooperation Department, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) submitted their Readiness Plan Idea Note (R-PIN) to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) on March 8, 2008. The FCPF accepted the R-PIN of Vietnam, and the R-PLAN will be due in September for deliberation on October 2009. As stated in the R-PIN "The Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen) and upland areas of the North Central provinces will be the focus of a future REDD program. These areas are home to a large proportion of Vietnam’s ethnic minority communities. These communities have strong cultural associations with forest areas and depend on them for their livelihoods to a greater extent than the majority Kinh community, as sources of food, fuel, construction and agricultural implements. Many communities have practiced swidden agriculture for generations and include forest products in livestock fodder and bedding. Indigenous minorities account for about 10% of Vietnam’s population, or approximately 8 million people. About 90% of these communities inhabit rural areas.

Forestland allocation to local people has been proceeding since the late 1980s but most of the land allocated has been bare or degraded land subsequently converted to plantation forests. Natural forests have largely been retained under the tenure and management of local government agencies. Under the 5 million hectare reforestation project (Project 661) some local communities have been awarded forest protection contracts for natural forest areas. Since 2006 MARD has implemented a pilot community forestry program in ten provinces nationally, including some in the Tay Nguyen and North Central zones. This will result in greater involvement of local communities in natural forest management and decentralization of forest tenure. Prior to 2006, allocation of natural forest areas was primarily to individual households." While the R-PIN recognizes the historical stewardship of ethnic minorities over forestlands, and the lack of tenure as a major contributory factor for de-forestation, it is of critical importance for ethnic minorities on how the recognition of land rights will be implemented under REDD.

Community Based Forest Management

The R-PIN highlights the national pilot project for community forestry in forty communes including in the mountainous areas that are the targeted areas for REDD. This project is expected to be the source of recommendations for the establishment of a clear legal framework and benefit sharing system for community forest management. Further, community forestry is seen as key tool in combating forest degradation by providing "clear and long-term financial incentives to engage actively in sustainable forest management and forest protection". This plan does not however make explicit reference to traditional forest management systems of ethnic minorities, and it is noteworthy if this will come out in the evaluation of the pilot project sites in the mountainous areas.

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