Jakarta, 8 July: A “Forest Ecosystem Valuation Study” (FEVS) Report for Indonesia was launched today in Jakarta. The study, undertaken by the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID) with funding support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is a critical step in capturing, demonstrating and recognising the multiple benefits provided by forest related ecosystem services for Indonesia’s economy and for the livelihoods of the rural poor.
Dr. Nur Masripatin, Director-General for Climate Change Control, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Forestry, expressed that “it is our hope that the results of this study will help Indonesia to achieve its green goals, through REDD+ implementation, by increasing awareness among politicians, at the national and subnational level, and internalising green economy principles in our development”.
The FEVS highlights the important role played by Indonesian forests in delivering and maintaining socio-economic wellbeing across the nation. The study demonstrates how timber, which acts as a critical provisioning service, adds more than USD 14 billion to the Indonesian economy. Not only would a further degradation of forest areas contribute to a decrease in this crucial source of revenue, but this would also engender a significant loss in tax revenues.At the provincial level, the study highlights how forests are important as a resource for clean water as well as their ability to store nutrients which provide significant value to local economies.
Mr. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP, said, “In addition to their ecological, cultural and spiritual value, forests play a critical role in sustaining national economies and supporting livelihoods through the ecosystem services and employment opportunities they provide”.
“Indonesia’s tropical forests, the third largest in the world, not only play a significant role in climate change mitigation nationally and globally, but also support the country’s transition towards a green economy. With more than 74 per cent of the poor depending on ecosystem services for their basic livelihoods, depletion of these services could be detrimental to the well-being of the poor and the country’s overall growth”.
“While implementing green economy strategies requires initial investments, the benefits far outweigh the costs. REDD+, in particular, has the potential to deliver the necessary investment to build synergies between economic development and forest conservation”, he added.
The report shows that an additional USD 600 million annually is needed to maintain Indonesian curent forest cover. This will enable forest to continue to deliver critical ecosystem services to the Indonesian economy. The study emphasises the urgent need for the government to find alternative ways of conserving forests and simultaneously protecting the livelihoods of people dependent on forest services. One of the ways of achieving this is through community management of forest resources, whilst concomitantly improving existing approaches of ecosystem services payments (such as REDD+), as these have been shown to be of significant value. Indeed, REDD+ could act as a catalyzing instrument to initiate the rehabilitation of forest and forest ecosystem services.
Mr. Pavan Sukhdev, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and Study Leader, underlined that “We need to recognise that nature is a foundation stone of our economy, whether we are talking about food security, livelihoods, climate change, water provision, employment or health. Without ecological foundation stones nothing works. Further, “ecosystem services are the largest component of household income of the poor, and if you lose them we damage the GDP of the poor. Key results from the studies in Kenya, Tanzania and Panama have shown that the costs of deforestation are much higher than the benefits of deforestation. Public costs are much more visible, than private benefits: we need to make visible the costs of loosing ecosystem services. We need to build from these studies, and create schemes and policies that ensure that ecosystem services are valued”, he added.
The study underlines that at a national and provincial level, forestry remains a key sector in terms of employment in remote areas, but also in its important contribution to other branches of the economy. For instance, the study estimates the water recharge capacity of forested areas in East Nusa Tenggara, and the significant role it plays in sustaining agricultural yields, and hence employment. Bearing in mind 80 percent of the province is involved in the agricultural sector, the report highlights the importance that forests play in promoting economic development.
Mr. Satya Tripathi, Director of UNORCID, said “the purpose of this report is not to be filed away as an academic publication, but to inspire and inform people working to bring about practical change to ‘business as usual’ economic development.Across Indonesia, the costs of depleting the country’s rich ecosystems not only damage long-term prospects of economic growth, but also widen economic inequality, increase vulnerability to climate change and severely constrain prospects for rural poverty alleviation.”
“Quantitative evidence of ecosystem value can be used to support policy development and implementation to drive a green economy transition, including: the creation of new jobs in sustainable sectors, identification of green industrial activities, and the design of new and innovative economic development strategies that have natural capital valuation at their heart“, he stated.
The FEVS for Indonesia should be considered as a first step toward a more thorough understanding of the role of forest ecosystem services in Indonesia. It lays the foundation for further research and assessment of key socio-economic trends driving forest cover change, as well as the impact of climate change on the future capacity of forests to continue to provide vital ecosystem services, both from a quantitative and qualitative point of view.
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