November 25, 2019

Community-based carbon credit schemes legally possible

JAKARTA ( - On top of the 3.4 million hectares previously granted for social forestry programs, an area more than 47 times larger than Singapore, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has targeted the acceleration of another 4 million hectares for this purpose within the next five years.

In addition to this social forestry target, the minister has also set a target for accelerating land reforms by releasing 2.53 million hectares of state forest areas by 2024. As things stand, the ministry has already  relinquished 4.1 million hectares for land reforms, equivalent to over 56 times the size of Singapore.

The figures above were taken from the presentation slides displayed by Minister Nurbaya in a consultation meeting with the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Binsar Panjaitan (Nov 18).

If these targets are met, it would mean that the area granted to social forestry and land reform programs for the benefit of communities will cover an area almost 195 times the size of Singapore by 2024.

This news report specifically discusses the ministry’s prioritization of the acceleration of social forestry programs in protection forests through which local communities are granted access to implement sustainable forest use and management practices. 

The following photos show a protection forest landscape on the west coast of Aceh which forms part of the indicative targeted areas for social forestry programs. Based on IUCN data, these protection forests are inhabited by critically-endangered Sumatran tigers.

It is important to bear in mind that the utilization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and environmental services is exclusively reserved for communities in social forestry areas situated in protection forests.

Protection forest-based carbon credit

The government-led carbon credit and trade scheme, arrangements for which are currently being finalized by Minister Nurbaya, will enable the economic utilization of social forestry areas in protection forests through the “sale” of carbon absorption/storage services.

The photos below depict parts of Aceh’s protection forests, also a habitat for Sumatran tigers, which have been allocated for social forestry programs by the ministry. These forests constitute a clear source of carbon absorption and storage.

Aside from the use of NTFPs, the delivery of economic benefits from the sustainable use of protection forests by communities would also certainly be expedited by prioritizing the facilitation of community-based carbon credit and trade schemes.

This is ever more likely given that the legal basis for such schemes is soon to be issued. Moreover, it would also result in, among other things, clear economic incentives for community-based protection forest management practices on the ground level. 

Even in the absence of any potential carbon credit and trade schemes, those protection forests have to date functioned ecologically as a source of carbon absorption and storage, while also providing a home to various critically-endangered species.