Reducing emissions from all land uses in Tanjung Jabung Barat

Indonesia is creating low-emissions development plans from national to district levels and the World Agroforestry Centre is providing technical assistance. On a visit to one of the research sites, Atiek Widayati, coordinator of the REALU Indonesia team, was impressed with progress


I recently visited the district of Tanjung Jabung Barat, Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, which is one of the research sites for the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) project, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. REALU operates in several countries to find out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within an entire landscape rather than just from a particular activity or sector. In Indonesia, the project supports the Government’s low-emissions development plans by providing important technical assistance.

Atiek Widayati, Jelutung, Tanjung Jabung Barat, Sumatra, Jambi, Indonesia, REALU, reducing emissions from all land uses, farmer group

Atiek Widayati (left) with Mr Saman, a Jelutung pioneer farmer and head of the farmers’ group in Senyerang village, Tanjung Jabung Barat

There are several ways this support is demonstrated in Tanjung Jabung Barat. For example, they are using a method developed by the World Agroforestry Centre, known as Land-Use Planning for Low-Emissions Development Strategies (LUWES), in collaboration with the Government’s District Planning and Development Agency. The agency is creating a technical document on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including mitigation actions, under the strong leadership of the head of the agency, Bp. Ir. H. Firdaus Khatab MM. This document is crucial, since it will be the reference point for any formal documentation for low-emissions development in the district’s spatial plans. The next step once it is completed will be to seek the endorsement of the district government’s leadership.

At the sub-district level, the 16 000 hectare Protected Peat Forest (Hutan Lindung Gambut/HLG) is the focus for emission reductions work. Our main effort is directed at community-based peat forest protection, working with key people within the District Forestry Office (Dinas Kehutanan) and, in particular, the Head, Bp. Ir. H. Erwin, an enthusiastic supporter of the project who pushed all else aside in his hectic schedule in order to meet us when I visited the area in April–May 2013. Indeed, we received supportive and positive responses from all staff of the Forestry Office, particularly in regard to our facilitation work with farmers who use the protection forest, which has helped build a good relationship between the farmers and the Office. The forest’s legal status that we are working to achieve with the farmers is called Hutan Kemasyarakat (HKm/Community Forest) and the good cooperation we have established is critical for achieving it.

We use a ‘landscape approach’ to deal with the complexity of issues that are part of any watershed or other larger geographic area and it is evident that micro-works conducted at the sub-landscape level are an important foundation for achieving good performance at the larger scale. A landscape-wide approach could be spongy and filled with gaps without these smaller, detailed and intricate activities.

For example, we have been supporting local institutional development and collaborating in planting Jelutung trees, which produce saleable resin, amongst other activities. In February 2013, we arranged for farmers from Tanjung Jabung Barat to visit farmers in Sumberjaya who already had HKm land status that had been achieved through the World Agroforestry Centre’s previous work with a project called Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services, which was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The visit was an eye opener for the Tanjung Jabung Barat farmers. It encouraged them to speed up the process to achieve their own HKm status. Some challenges still remain, for example, the link with the central office of the Ministry of Forestry needs to be made stronger and timber continues to be extracted illegally to meet district demands despite efforts to stop this practice.

As well as meeting with enthusiastic project supporters, such as the heads of the planning agency and forestry office, I also attended a discussion with HLG farmers that was facilitated by two members of the World Agroforestry Centre team—Jasnari and Putra Agung—and attended by Forestry Office staff. I could not help but be amazed by the efforts of the team, knowing how sensitive the issue was when we first began our work in the district. Now the farmers are willing to sit down and discuss matters and consult with the Forestry Office staff, with everyone in a positive mood. Some challenges certainly remain, such as establishing the next stages once the Jelutung is planted, including improving farm management, learning tapping methods and facilitating market access. We will focus more on these areas in the next few years, which we explained to everyone during the meeting.

HLG, Tanjung Jabung Barat, farmer group

Discussion group of HLG farmers in Tanjung Jabung Barat

I also visited farmers in Senyerang village, where Jelutung planting has been taking place voluntarily on their private land. It is evident that Jelutung is ‘locally appropriate’ ecologically, socially and economically and certainly not a mere forest rehabilitation program.

The final part of my visit was a wide-ranging discussion about the work to reduce provincial emissions. As is usual, the higher the level of discussion, involving more people and more interests, the less straightforward the situation. My discussion with team members, Putra Agung and Ratna Akiefnawati, who deal with our projects in Jambi province, was about synergies between the District Action Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (a locally appropriate mitigation action at provincial level) and the Provincial Action Plan Strategy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus conservation (provincial REDD+), which is still under discussion between the two Government agencies responsible for implementation. Some clarification on how these two initiatives can synergise is still needed before an approach that ‘nests’ complementary activities in the district can be implemented.

The Centre has several teams working in Tanjung Jabung Barat and Jambi supporting the different aspects of addressing low-emissions or ‘green’ development. Despite the great progress made by the teams, we nevertheless recognize that big challenges lie ahead of us, which include factors beyond our control, such as sustainability beyond the end of the project. These challenges will certainly give us enough work to keep us busy for the next few years if we are to help the community of Tanjung Jabung Barat achieve their goal of low-emissions development.


Edited by Robert Finlayson


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This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

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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