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Who owns the carbon?

Indonesia’s carbon stores spark international attention

Jeff Neilson

   A hand-written sign forbidding forest clearing reinforces ambiguities
   over who actually determines resource use
  Jeff Nielson

On 2 February 2010, the Australian Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Penny Wong, announced a A$30 million allocation to the Indonesia Australia Forest Carbon Partnership (IAFCP) project in Sumatra’s Jambi province. This added to Australia’s earlier commitment of a similar amount for conservation and restoration of carbon-rich peat swamps in Central Kalimantan. Both projects are part of a joint initiative agreed on by former Australian Prime Minister Rudd and Indonesian President Yudhoyono in June 2008, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Widely referred to as REDD, such schemes involve paying a government or other party to protect or restore forests and leave forest carbon in situ. The ‘plus’ in REDD-plus adds reforestation activities to REDD’s original ‘avoided deforestation’ framework. As part of overall plans to mitigate global warming, both Australian and Indonesian governments would like to see carbon credits generated through REDD+ schemes traded in international carbon markets.

Implementing REDD+ effectively and equitably will face immense challenges due to complex resource tenure arrangements across Indonesia’s forest landscapes and problems associated with identifying legitimate resource users to be compensated through REDD+ payments. Rights to use natural resources, such as forest lands for timber extraction or conversion to agriculture, are highly contested

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