Papua and West Papua

In Indonesia, IUCN’s pro-poor REDD-plus project focuses on the two easternmost provinces in the country: Papua and West Papua. These two provinces together with Papua New Guinea form the Island of New Guinea. It contains the largest continuous tropical forest in the world after the Amazon and the Congo basins. Culturally and ecologically the provinces of Papua and West Papua form a unique part of the Indonesian republic. Indonesia as a whole had 52% forest cover in 2010 with an annual deforestation rate of 0.5% over the last decade (FAO, 2011).

REDD-plus in Indonesia

Because of its large areas of forest cover and high deforestation rates, Indonesia is of high priority for REDD-plus. Indonesia has made a commitment to cut national CO2 emissions by 26% before 2020 and by as much as 41% if sufficient resources are provided by the international community. Indonesia is one of the countries where the readiness phase was skipped. Doors were opened for REDD pilots without having a national framework that would determine minimum elements like MRV, benefit distribution, recognition of rights and payments of REDD-plus activities. REDD-plus in Indonesia is being developed as “projects” and not as “activities” that can be recognised in a broader geographical scale.

REDD-plus in Papua and West Papua

So far Papua has been spared the high deforestation rates that have affected other parts of Indonesia. Plantation industries are however increasingly looking at Papua for land. Large-scale deforestation could become widespread in the coming decade if nothing is done to stop it. Papua Province has committed itself to 'low carbon' and 'people-centred' development, and has started a program to make this a reality. The new spatial plan for the province changes the status of 5 million hectares of forest so that it can no longer be cleared for plantations but instead must be protected or managed for timber. Papua Province frames REDD-plus as a mechanism for improving incomes and recognising customary rights. Neighbouring West Papua province has also demonstrated an interest in using REDD-plus to promote improved forest management and better livelihoods. The formation of a REDD-plus working group and a series of studies are underway.

The pro-poor REDD-plus project in Papua Province

Activities developed under the pro-poor REDD-plus project in Papua address a pressing information gap. In particular grassroots communities urgently need to have a clear picture of what REDD-plus could entail. Secondly, policy makers in the provinces need to understand the views and needs of communities. The project has provided information on the challenges and opportunities of REDD-plus and possible alternatives to the prevailing industrial models of natural resource use. It has done this while working through local NGOs, community organisations and local governments.

The project has also supported the identification and mapping of customary territories. These form the basis of local forest management practices. An analysis was done of how forest products contribute to local households. A local team of experts on forestry, customary law and land tenure is reviewing existing and proposed legislation and will make recommendations on 'pro-poor' REDD-plus. Several awareness and training events have been organised for local communities and government institutions to help create understanding and to start preparations for REDD-plus. Working through partnerships, the project aims to contribute to ensuring that REDD-plus in Papua and West Papua advances the urgent need to improve livelihoods and forest management in the region.

The pro-poor pilots in Baliem Valley and Bomberai Peninsula in Papua

The foci of IUCN’s pro-poor project are the Baliem Valley in the central highlands of Papua and the Bomberai Peninsula in the lowlands of West Papua. Settlements and agriculture in Baliem are concentrated in broad sub-alpine valleys between 1400m and 2500m. Papua’s poverty indicators show that the largest numbers of poor households are in the central highlands where nearly 90% of households are categorised as poor. The increasing need for cash by local people and the growth of the main town in the region is fuelling demands for timber and is causing degradation of forests.

The Bomberai Peninsula covers 2.1 million hectares of which over 90% is under forest cover. 65% of the entire landscape is covered by eight logging concessions, and up to 30% of the land is classified by the government as being available for conversion to non-forest land uses such as oil palm. Traditional communities in the landscape use a wide range of timber and non-timber products from the forest for both cash and non-cash income, but their rights over these resources are weak. People have little influence on decisions over the issuing of logging or plantation licences.

The livelihoods and forests toolkit was applied to investigate the links between forests and livelihoods. It can help with the prioritisation of issues that need consideration under potential REDD-plus scenarios and alternative land-uses such as conversion to oil palm. Because communities are highly dependent on wild natural resources from marine, riverine and forest ecosystems, they are also vulnerable to climate change. Therefore adaptation needs to be considered along with mitigation at local levels.

Results of the pro-poor project in Papua so far

  • Trainings have been given to community representatives on climate change, REDD-plus and experiences with the application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
  • An Indonesian version of the Forests and Poverty Toolkit manual was developed and implemented in Kaimana District
  • Tenure and legal experts were supported to participate in the drafting of new Papua Province spatial plan and a policy analysis of land tenure law and customary tenure was completed. Also a publication was produced on safeguards and other policies governing bilateral funding for REDD-plus action in Indonesia
  • A mechanism has been proposed to the provincial government for the development of a forest conservation and rehabilitation project in the Baliem valley
  • Participation of local community representatives has been facilitated in consultations on the Norway?Indonesia 'Letter of Intent'

At the landscape level, activities have focused on participatory mapping that will enable customary communities to seek recognition of their rights. This will have to include recognition of the right of these communities to decide whether or not REDD-plus will be implemented in their forests. Securing a licence for sustainable forest management will enable the community to benefit from greater income from the forest. The project is studying the potential for REDD-plus to add further value to standing forests. The project links local and sub-national issues with national developments and supports Papua and Papua Barat Provincial Low Carbon REDD task forces in translating local concerns into policy.