Protecting the Valuable Remnants: A High Conservation Value Approach

Protecting the Valuable Remnants: A High Conservation Value Approach

Indonesia - 13 August, 2020

Government policy related to conservation forest management outside conservation areas is currently a hot topic, considering that there have been many initiatives carried out by the holders of concession or cultivation rights and even by individual land owners who have been interested in conservation. Law 23/2014 in Chapter 16 Part One Article 360 about Special Zones, Paragraph 1 states that to carry out certain government functions that are strategic for the national interest, the Central Government can determine special areas within provinces and/or regencies/cities. Next, in paragraph 5 it is stated that regions can propose the formation of special areas as referred to the paragraph (1) to the Central Government. This means that local governments have the authority to manage conservation areas, which can be in the forms of important ecosystem areas or buffer areas which are located outside of nature reserves and nature protection areas.

In broader context of forest landscape, the central government should invite local governments to examine opportunities to save forests and their contents. However, it is necessary to think about the long-term design of the functions and benefits that will be provided to local communities in the proposed villages. How to determine what is left, how vast, what the value and how the spread.

If I look at the word "remainder", I make an analogy with 3 meanings:

  • Set aside what is good (for example primary natural forest) into fully protected protection forest so that its values and functions are not damaged - representation of the existing types and areas
  • Leave behind the bad (taking the good content of the forest) - tends to be exploitative
  • Take all away and leave behind useless, non-functional pieces

Of course, the three conditions give different consequences. Forests must be able to be assessed from the perspectives of function and purposes. Forest ecosystems have a variety of functions and uses. Around 60 million Indonesians live and depend on resources in the forest (KLHK 2017). Not only providing water, plants/wood, animal protein, medicinal raw materials, carbon providers and CO2 absorber, but also providing millions of hectares of land for agriculture. Forests also function to maintain the balance of the ecosystem to prevent floods and landslides, become a home for local people living in both inside and around forest, and become the source of livelihoods for forest people. Thus, forests provide social, economic and ecological benefits not only at the local, national, but also global levels. Sustainable forest use must support these three pillars.

Nowadays the world always talks about remaining forests, tropical forests that are rapidly disappearing so that many international initiatives want to save tropical rainforests. But this will not be easy. There is a big question, why is it that only tropical rainforests need to be saved, and why is this so difficult? Based on scientific studies, the recovery rate of degraded tropical forests is very fast (if there is no disturbance).

Currently only 6% of the world's remaining forests are protected while more than 90% are still open for utilization. Meanwhile, the 6% will not be safe if the implementation of sustainable development is not carried out. The question is - what is the form of the protected areas, and why is it only aimed for forests in tropical countries. What about those in temperate and boreal ones? Carbon stock in boreal and temperate forests is also very significant.

Another hot issue is that there will be an explosion in the world's population, so there is a question, can the earth support the growing number of people? It should have been able to be predicted using the Carrying Capacity approach.

Recently there is also a movement or invitation from the High Coalition Ambition for Nature led by France and Costa Rica - to set a target of protecting 30% of the earth's surface (terrestrial and marine) for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. With Aichi's 2020 target of 17%, the 30% target is a considerable increase. Perhaps this is more of a political move than an ecological one.

Present condition of forests in Indonesia:

  • With Law 41/1999 on Forestry, Indonesia has divided forest areas covering 120.3 million ha of state forest areas based on their functions: Production Forest Areas, Conservation Forests, Protected Forests and Conversion Forests for other uses.
  • Among these areas, around 30 million ha are managed under the authority of local governments. TGHI => conservation area of 27 million ha, 29 million ha of protection forest and 0.7 million ha of Essential Ecosystem Areas (KEE). It is more than 51 million ha of protected areas, or more than 28% of the country's land area.
  • Directorate of Forest Resources Inventory and Monitoring (Dit. IPSDH) - Indicative Map for Postponement of New Permits (PIPPIB) - (Indicative Map of Moratorium) => 66 million ha (there is an increase of 200,000 ha from 2019 to 2020) - stable for primary forest cover and peat (more than 30%)

Currently the government has planned an initiative to create Essential Ecosystem Area which is an ecosystem outside the Nature Reserve Area (KSA) and/or Nature Conservation Area (KPA) which has important values that ecologically support the continuity of life through efforts to conserve biodiversity for community welfare and quality of human life which is designated as a protected area. KEE has 5 typologies: 1) wetland ecosystem, 2) wildlife corridor, 3) high conservation value area, 4) Biodiversity Park, and 5) Community Management Conservation Area.

High Conservation Value area was originally initiated in the voluntary certification of sustainable forest management by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is based on Principle No.9 out of 10 principles of sustainable forest management. Currently, it has been developed into an approach that is effective enough to be implemented in areas outside the conservation areas that have real conservation values and need to be kept intact. The government put it in the Regulation of the Directorate General of KSDAE P5 / KSDAE / SET / KUM.1 / 9/2017 about Technical Guidelines for Determining HCVA outside Nature Reserve Areas, Nature Conservation Areas and Hunting Parks.

What are the main parameters that will be measured in identification? The following will be measured: 1) continuity and viability of rare, threatened and endangered species and plants, 2) SIR (Scale, Intensity and Risk), 3) conservation status and ecological requirements of rare and threatened species, 4) unique, rare and threatened ecosystems, and 5) consideration of the geographic area and ecological requirements of the RTE species outside the Management Unit boundaries.

The HCV approach is designed to identify an area with high conservation values and meet the 6 categories including biological, ecological, social and cultural values which have extraordinary significance and have a very important role in an ecosystem or landscape. Provide information based on scientific studies to policy makers, business actors, and civil society organizations when they optimize economic growth and development in their respective regions/areas.

In the current situation and condition when forest landscape fragmentation is inevitable for the sake of development acceleration on the pretext of the welfare of the community, there are questions that should be asked at the beginning. What can be done to protect the existing forests so that they can guarantee the survival of human and wildlife/plants?

Most of the HCV assessment is still carried out at the site or management unit level. In its current development, identification is easier to do at the landscape level, certainly with various considerations, including: 1) management to maintain HCV cannot be done partially, 2) partial management cannot guarantee connectivity between sites and HCV, 3) data and information at landscape level can be used as an indicative reference at the Management Unit/site level and facilitate assessment, 4) most of wild animals have home ranges outside the concession area (UO) and this distribution knows no boundaries.

The identification and guidance of HCV will help in finding information on areas that need to be preserved and maintained. If the local government is committed to prioritize conservation areas, it is recommended to choose primary forest areas in a vast area, forest areas with a small area but capable of forming interconnected mosaics (high connectivity), buffer areas around the remaining forest mosaics that will be managed to enlarge management space and connectivity, unique-rare-degraded ecosystems in the restored wet land area and the last is the benefit for biodiversity and environmental services, and socio culture.

In conclusion, forest and biodiversity conservation must consider the current condition of the remaining forests - in all regions, including the remaining areas, what it looks like, what it contains, what its value (for whomever the beneficiary), and how is the spatial distribution to ensure communication across areas and runs beneath. Thus, local governments will be assisted in formulating their spatial pattern.

A note from the webinar "Conservation outside Conservation Areas"
By: Dr. Ir. Titiek Setyawati, MSc,
Researcher, Forestry Research and Development Center, Research and Development Agency and Innovation; Conservation and Environmentally Friendly Development Expert