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AusAID has effectively axed its $47 million forest carbon experiment in Kalimantan ahead of Prime Minister Rudd’s visit to Indonesia this week. The Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) began in 2008 as part of a program to demonstrate that ‘forest carbon offsets’ were a viable way to reduce carbon emissions. The KFCP pilot project began with big promises to demonstrate policy and program activities capable of reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation in Indonesia, and incentivise sustainable livelihoods for local communities.

Friends of the Earth groups criticise the Federal government and its implementing partner’s for their failed approach to deforestation and the land rights issues in Indonesia.

Deddy Ratih from WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) said: ‘AusAID and the KFCP staff have failed to support conservation programs that are environmentally effective and sensitive to the rights of indigenous people in rural Indonesia.’

‘The KFCP is a missed opportunity to empower local communities to develop their sustainable livelihood practices and address the drivers of land conversion in Kalimantan.’

Ratih is Bioregion and Climate Campaigner campaigner for WALHI – Indonesia’s leading environmental justice organisation with more than 450 groups across the Indonesian archipelago.

‘A key aspect of deforestation and land degradation is the lack of formal rights held by indigenous and rural people in Indonesia. The KFCP did nothing to assist local communities to assert their customary rights and develop capacity for sustainable land management.’ says Ratih

‘Over five years the project has produced no significant environmental outcomes, it created conflict in local communities and confusion about the status of their land.’ says Deddy Ratih

Rebecca Pearse, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Australia argued that ‘the KFCP is a failed experiment in carbon pricing and a sign of ongoing troubles in carbon offset markets.’

‘The failed KFCP also reflects the fundamental flaws of carbon pricing. Forest carbon offsets and other payment schemes for conservation are not addressing the drivers of land-based emissions. Despite being a key area for experiments in forest carbon projects, Kalimantan is rapidly expanding palm oil and coal production.’ says Pearse.
Pearse said ‘Both the Liberal and Labor governments have responsibility for the failure of this scheme.’

The KFCP is part of a larger $273 million partnership with Indonesia to demonstrate that a ‘market-based approach’ to forest protection is viable. It was first announced in 2008 by the Howard administration then carried forward by Rudd and Gillard.

‘It’s time to shift to direct regulation of industries driving forest destruction and proper recognition of individual and customary land tenure. Nothing less will halt extractive industries in Indonesia.’ Pearse concluded.

Image: Michael Padmanaba/ Center for International Forestry Research