Indonesia to launch REDD+ agency to tackle deforestation : September 13, 2011

Indonesia will establish a REDD+ agency to support the country's efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, according to a statement released by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's office.

The agency will be created by a new REDD+ Task Force headed by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, an adviser to President Yudhoyono. Kuntoro ran Indonesia's first REDD+ Task Force, whose mission expired June 30. The charter of the new REDD+ Task Force will run through December 31, 2012.

The REDD+ agency — which will report directly to the president — will be charged with coordinating activities related to Indonesia's REDD+ program, including establishing an independent and reliable deforestation monitoring system, preparing national strategies for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, monitoring the implementation of the President's moratorium on new forestry concessions in primary forests and peatlands, and implementing the country's REDD+ pilot project in the province of Central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. The agency also aims to coordinate international finance for the REDD+ program. The announcement could help temper rising concern over Indonesia's commitment to reducing deforestation. In recent months the Ministry of Forestry has halved Rimba Raya, the country's showcase REDD+ project in Central Kalimantan, while the nationwide logging moratorium disappointed environmentalists and failed to meet conditions laid out under the billion dollar pact Indonesia signed with Norway in May 2010. Progress on other components of Indonesia's REDD+ program have been slow.

Indonesia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, losing 1.5 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2009. Forest destruction is primarily driven by industrial activities, especially logging, mining, and the establishment of oil palm and pulp and paper plantations. Small-scale agriculture also contributes to forest loss.