Policy Brief 02 – Forest Management Units: Terminating the Open Access Regime of Indonesia’s Forests to Support REDD+ Objectives

The main drivers of deforestation in Indonesia are conversion of natural forests for small-scale cultivation, large-scale oil palm, tree plantations and mining. Forest conversion can occur legally and illegally, where illegal conversion occurs mainly because of the lack of coverage and number of forest management institutions on-the-ground. The Government of Indonesia has started to operationalize Forest Management Units (FMUs), to terminate the open access of forests that fuels illegal deforestation. In 2014, there were 120 operational FMUs covering 16 million ha of forestland, and there are plans to add an additional 509 FMUs by 2019 covering 91% of total forested area in Indonesia. FMUs are highly compatible with the REDD+ programme, where both facilitate area-wide management and protection, support forest management activities, and involve multiple stakeholders in forest management. Thus, the operationalization of FMUs can be integrated with Indonesia’s REDD+ programme to meet the needs of sustainable forest management and Indonesia’s emissions reduction target. The mandate of FMUs is extensive, where there are a variety of land use and management types within each FMU. Capacity building workshops should be prioritized to equip and support FMU personnel with the relevant range of technical skills to effectively manage their lands and to monitor carbon stock as a subnational unit of REDD+. Deforestation in Indonesia also occurs when converted forests are degraded further into non-forest land, but this is not managed under FMUs stipulations. This policy brief thus recommends FMUs to seek support of provincial and district governments such that they can assume responsibilities of non-forest land.