The effects of climate variability and change are already being felt across Indonesia – and USAID IFACS wants to help communities adapt to climate change as well as reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The project works in eight landscapes on three of Indonesia’s largest islands – Sumatra (specifically in Aceh), Kalimantan, and Papua. Much of the primary forest cover and peat lands on these islands remain intact and the islands also contain Indonesia’s highest carbon stocks. What then are the most effective ways to support people on these islands to adapt to climate change? How best can local organizations, governments, businesses, media and other relevant institutions contribute to lowering emissions and conserving the islands’ remaining biodiversity and forests?
These are some of the questions USAID IFACS seeks to answer as part of our mission to conserve Indonesia’s forests, biodiversity and ecosystems, and to encourage a shift toward low-emission development on land that is already degraded. Beginning in 2010, USAID IFACS focused on Indonesia’s land-use sector, which is responsible for much of the country’s emissions, and looked at ways to reduce those emissions by integrating forest and peat land conservation with low-emission development strategies, or LEDS.
This involves working with government and civil society to ensure effective preparation and enforcement of spatial plans that promote sustainable forest management. USAID IFACS starts by nurturing Multi-Stakeholder Forums (MSFs), which are local working groups, consisting of representatives from government, civil society, communities, and businesses,that aim to promote conservation, as well as transparency and participation in government. We then work with them to prepare Landscape Conservation Plans. These Plans identify districts’ social and environmental features, focusing on high conservation values and their distribution, and identifying level of threats to such values. At the same time, USAID IFACS works with governments to prepare and monitor spatial plans as part of a mandatory Indonesian requirement for governments to complete their Strategic Environmental Assessment, or Kajian Lingkungan Hidup Strategis. The LCP complements this Assessment as it empowers the MSF to focus their efforts toward conservation in selected areas, contribute to spatial planning by canvassing to have high conservation values and areas sensitive to impacts of climate change considered in Strategic Environmental Assessments, and undertake interventions that support conservation and low-emission development.
In addition to working with government, USAID IFACS also works with private sector partners in the forestry, plantation and mining sectors, and local community organizations to ensure development and business strategies prioritize reducing emissions while balancing those strategies with forest and biodiversity conservation. For instance, USAID IFACS works with natural resource concessionaires to identify high conservation values within their concessions and apply strategies and best management practices for conserving these values. With communities, USAID IFACS provides them with the training and resources they need to improve their living standards without harming the forest or biodiversity in the environs. In return, community members engage in conservation activities and establish a community-based monitoring system to make sure the activities are sustained.
In summary, USAID IFACS’ field activities work toward forest and biodiversity management, and low-emission development. Governance work aims to build government agencies’ skills, strengthen local participation, instil transparency and promote sustainable development.