by Maithili Joshi
The impacts of deforestation are clear; the destruction of our forests result in increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In an attempt to curb this, in 2011, Indonesia implemented a nationwide moratorium on peat lands, such as oil palm. Although this enactment is regarded as widely important, there are many questions raised about the moratorium. For example: how effective is the moratorium? Does it cover enough land, or the “right” lands? By how much did deforestation occur with the moratorium in comparison to prior to the concessions being granted from the years 2000 to 2010, before the moratorium was enacted? And, finally, how much lower would Indonesia’s carbon emissions be if there had been no new concessions granted on primary forests and peat lands in those years prior? The answers to these questions are crucial for our understanding in carbon emissions and the effectiveness of the ban on deforestation. By estimating carbon emissions before the moratoriums enactment, using an empirical approach, and utilizing previously collected data to estimate carbon emissions, the evidence shows that it did not cover enough forest that is thought to hold large quantities of carbon. Simply put, the effect of the moratorium itself is insufficient. It is still agreed that without the law, the rate of deforestation would have occurred at a much faster rate had it not been introduced at all. However, the effectiveness of it would have a greater impact on reducing carbon emissions if policy been implemented on timber concessions as well as for oil palm because timber, on average, had a higher carbon density than oil palm concessions. The effect of a moratorium that covered a larger scope of the forest will drive carbon emissions down to reach the target the Indonesian government intended. Although these findings suggest that the suspension on deforestation did reduce emissions, there are other alternatives that have a greater impact, such as carbon-pricing mechanisms as a more effective way because of the economic incentives, thus making it easier to implement in general.
Busch, J., Ferretti-Gallon, K., Engelmann, J., Wright, M., 2014, Reductions in emissions from deforestation from Indonesia’s moratorium on new oil palm, timber, and logging concessions vol. 112 no. 5