New approaches to save remaining forest

New approaches to save remaining forest

Indonesia - 04 July, 2020

In recent years, many initiatives are offered by NGOs to save forest ecosystems, especially tropical rain forests around the worlds with its rich biodiversity.

Forests are not only seen from their tangible natural resources but also their value for storing carbon and its ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Various businesses entity in forestry and non-forestry sectors have been applying sustainable management principle and one of the principle required them to allocate some of their land for conservation purposes. This, is of course showed as global concern over the rapid loss of biodiversity that should be halted for our future generation. In Indonesia, both forestry and non-forestry sectors has been implementing various certification scheme to meet global concern over products that come from areas that is managed in a sustainable manner.

In the late 1990s, the concept of High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) or "HCV Forest" was initiated as one of the principles of sustainable forest management standards under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme. Later, this concept is adopted not only for forestry sector but also non-forestry and thus called as HCVA (High Conservation Value Areas). The HCV status was designed to maintain or enhance environmental and social values in production landscapes. It is based on six values, covering species diversity (HCV 1), landscape-level ecosystems (HCV 2), rare ecosystems/habitats (HCV 3), critical ecosystem services (HCV 4), community livelihood needs (HCV 5) and cultural values (HCV 6). Generally, HCVs 1 to 3 are significant in a global context, whilst HCVs 4 to 6 are more locally relevant. HCVs are values that are of outstanding significance or critically important, at a national, regional or global level. They are designed to protect areas that are essential for maintaining environmental and social values of importance.

After almost two decades, this concern over loss of forest and biodiversity was framed through a no-deforestation commitment which was declared by some big corporates. This idea was immediately captured by NGOs, and other institutions that have joined hands in the development of High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach through a multi-stakeholders group called High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) Steering Group. Oil palm growers Cargill, New Britain Palm Oil, Daabon, Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar, and pulp and paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper, as well as Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature, Rainforest Action Network, The Forest Trust, and Forest People Program are parts of this initiation.

In Principle, the HCS approach was designed to protect and restore suitable tropical forest area in the landscape that undergoes conversion for plantation or agriculture, and to ensure land use rights and traditional livelihood of the traditional community to remain secure. This method will be useful to differentiate between natural forest and degraded forest which has a small number of trees, shrubs, or meadow. The latter is indicated by its carbon stock ((< 35 C ton/ha). Thus, HCS aims to protect remaining tree forest cover within the production zone, used for the last screening to meet zero deforestation commitment.

The HCV approach aims to protect ecosystem outside protected areas in the landscape before converting the areas for production uses based on precautionary approach principles. People can still manage the HCV area either by land sharing in which development activities can be undertaken in a manner that ensures the maintenance of conservation values, or land sparing, in which HCV areas must be exclusively dedicated to conservation where development is forbidden.

That being said, HCV approach is suitable for outside protected areas as a precautionary approach to manage natural production and industrial plantation management, including areas in area for other land uses (Area Penggunaan Lain/APL) to maintain or enhance environmental and social values in production landscapes.

Both approaches are strategic to save remaining forest in this country, both could be combined for the case of managing former forested areas under conversion, to manage a landscape with a variety of legal forest and land status for biodiversity, conservation and climate smart objectives, the HCV should be exclusively used.

This article has already been published in The Jakarta Post.

Author: Titik Setyawati and Edi Purwanto
Titiek Setyawati is researcher at the Agency for Research Development and Innovation, the Environment and Forestry Ministry; Edi Purwanto is director of Tropenbos Indonesia.