Farms, forests and fuel in Sweden and Indonesia

Forests in Sweden are habitat for moose, the national animal. Photo: Maria Emitslöf/

The head of state of Sweden visited Indonesia and attended a seminar on the role of forestry in sustainable development.

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf* and Queen Silvia, accompanied by the Minister for Infrastructure Anna Johansson and other representatives of the Government of Sweden, attended a seminar on 22 May 2017 at the Bogor campus of the Center for International Forestry Research and the World Agroforestry Centre.

Head of State of the Kingdom of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf (right) and Queen Silvia at the seminar. Photo: Center for International Forestry Research

The seminar, titled, ‘The Role of Forestry for Sustainable Development’, featured two presentations by ICRAF staff: Ingrid Öborn, regional coordinator Southeast Asia, discussed the role of smallholder forestry and farming in both countries; and Sonya Dewi, Indonesia’s country program coordinator, summarized an earlier Sweden–Indonesia workshop on bioenergy.

Öborn pointed out that there were many differences between the nature of family farming and forestry in the two countries, beginning with total land area: Sweden has about 41 million hectares; Indonesia has 191 million. In Sweden, forest land accounted for 28 million hectares, around two-thirds of the total area of the country, whereas in Indonesia with its much larger area, forest land occupied just under half, at around 46 percent.

Ingrid Öborn, ICRAF Southeast Asia regional coordinator, presenting at the seminar. Photo: Center for International Forestry Research

Of the forest land in Sweden, 23 million hectares were ‘production’ forest: products included timber, pulp and paper, bioenergy and environmental services. Government policy gave equal priority to timber production, environmental protection and conservation. Family forestry dominated the sector, with 50 percent of forest land owned by 330,000 family farmers producing 60 percent of the harvested products. The Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners boasted 112,000 members and there were four regional associations organized as producers’ cooperatives that also owned companies, such as saw and paper mills, giving their members a market for their raw material.

By contrast, about half of Indonesia’s 26 million farmers have some engagement in both agriculture and forestry, on farms averaging one hectare, dominated by five major tree crops of global importance: oil palm, coffee, rubber, cocoa and tea. Within this context, rice production is the third largest in the world and 1.5 million farmers on Java grow 80 percent of the teak processed by small-to-medium manufacturing firms.

Table 1. Smallholder commodity production in Indonesia

As part of the Indonesian Government’s agenda for social forestry, 12.7 million hectares of state-owned forest land have been earmarked for allocation to community management by 2019. More than 2.5 million hectares of land need to be reassigned each year, a task that the directorate in charge readily admits is Herculean.

Sonya Dewi, ICRAF’s Indonesia country coordinator, noted that forest land in the country that is not used for conservation purposes, as well as degraded agricultural land, has been identified as potential sources of bioenergy, particularly, through production of biomass.

Sonya Dewi, ICRAF Indonesia country coordinator, presenting at the seminar. Photo: Center for International Forestry Research

Indonesia’s National Energy Policy of 2014 set a target of 23 percent of the nation’s energy needs to be produced from new and renewable sources, including bioenergy, by 2025. There were several challenges that needed to be met for bioenergy to be able to contribute to reaching this target: 1) high levels of financing and investment were required; 2) availability of feedstock needed to be guaranteed; 3) infrastructure needed to be in place, such as access to reliable electricity supply; 4) the lack of integration of research and industrial sectors, along with other interested parties, needed to be addressed; 5) the regulatory regime needed to be made more attractive; and 6) a lack of clarity regarding land tenure and government spatial planning had to be resolved.

However, there were enabling factors that could be put in place to expedite the sector’s growth. These included financing instruments, such as low-interest loans for bioenergy development; subsidies for biofuels; special allocation of funds for rural energy development; and promotion of profitable business models to encourage small and medium enterprises and investors.

Ultimately, a strong commitment from the government was required to fund long-term research and development of bioenergy; align bioenergy production with existing oil refinery technology to reduce costs in technology investment; and use degraded or marginal land for biomass production to reduce pressure on arable land and natural forests, bearing in mind that the trade-off among different ecosystem services would need to be carefully evaluated, as would competition with food security.

Dewi argued that efforts to ensure energy security should be part of ‘green’ development at sub-national levels, wherein bioenergy options could be developed as part of green-growth planning that takes into account local needs, resource availability, suitability (of trees and crops), land use and forest governance.

The Swedish visit was at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo and was seen as an opportunity to strengthen the political, economic and cultural ties between Sweden and Indonesia. Trade, sustainability, research and innovation were the main themes of the visit. With 260 million inhabitants, Indonesia is a high-priority export market for Sweden.


*Head of state without formal power

The monarch occupying the Swedish throne under the Act of Succession is the country’s head of state. The Swedish head of state, since September 1973, King Carl XVI Gustaf, exercises no political power and does not participate in political life. As head of state, he is the representative of the country as a whole, and in that capacity performs mainly ceremonial duties and functions. The monarch’s duties include chairing meetings of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs.

Source: Government of Sweden, 2017




ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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