BP REDD+ to go on despite uncertain future
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
Despite a government plan to disband the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+) after only one year in operation, the agency maintains it will proceed with its projects this year.
BP REDD+ head Heru Prasetyo gave a presentation on the agency's future plans on Wednesday before a number of stakeholders, including officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry, local NGOs as well as international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
'It's not possible for us to stop working,' Heru told The Jakarta Post after the presentation at the agency's office in Central Jakarta.
In the presentation, Heru laid out the agency's action plan for its 10 current programs, such as monitoring the forest permits moratorium, one-map policy, law enforcement support, indigenous land mapping, forest fire prevention and so on.
In it's monitoring of the moratorium on forest permits, which was enacted by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011 and applied to primary forests and peatland, the agency would provide regular reports prepared by the agency's offices in Jambi, Riau and Central Kalimantan to all stakeholders.
The agency would also carry out efforts to improve the one-map policy, which was officially implemented in the end of 2014 to resolve disagreements resulting from the use of different data and maps that often cause land disputes and overlapping permits in plantation and mining operations.
The geospatial information map, designed by the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), still lacked maps designed for specific issues, such as indigenous land and forest fires, which is where the agency would step in, Heru said.
'The map of indigenous land has to be included in the national map so that we can better manage our forests,' he said.
BP REDD+ has been at the forefront of the country's attempt to recognize indigenous land rights through the National Program for the Protection and Recognition of Indigenous Peoples (PPMHA) inaugurated by the government in September last year.
In December last year, the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) and the National Participatory Mapping Working Network (JKPP) submitted results of their community mapping to the REDD+ agency, which serves as temporary data custodian.
The agency also planned to conduct another compliance audit targeting local governments and agroforestry corporations operating in provinces that had become the source for forest fires.
This year, the agency will conduct the audit in Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra. The first audit was carried out in Riau in 2014.
Heru wrapped up his presentation by addressing questions on the possibility of the agency being dissolved.
'We will continue to work in 2015 and we want paradigm shift. It is not that the agency needs to continue forever, but the paradigm shift needs to be there. One day, this movement [to reduce carbon emissions] might be transformed into a permanent ministry,' he said.
Last week, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar revealed the plan to absorb the agency into the ministry by offering the agency's staffers to serve as advisory board members to the planned directorate general for climate change mitigation within the ministry.
A document from the ministry obtained by the Post discussed the agency's role as stipulated by the Presidential Decree No.62/2013.
'There are many overlapping functions [of BP REDD+] with the National Development Planning Board [Bappenas], the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Finance Ministry and law enforcers,' the document said.
Commenting on the future of BP REDD+, UNDP country director Beate Trankmann said that it was important for President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who has the prerogative to decide on the agency's future, to base his decision on the REDD+ agenda.
'There needs to be constitutional clarity,' she told the Post on Thursday.
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