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Statement by

Mr. Wandojo Siswanto
Special Advisor to the Minister of Forestry
of the Republic of Indonesia

on Agenda Item 5
“Forest in a Changing Environment”

New York, 21 April 2009

 

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation would like first of all to express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for the report on this particular agenda item. We welcome the recommendations therein on how to obtain the maximum benefits from the forest instrument in addressing the trinity issues of climate change, desertification and biodiversity.

Forests are critically important for the livelihoods of at least 1.6 billion people worldwide. Developing countries are accountable for about 20 % of the estimated $270 billion worth of international trade in forest products conducted annually. Forests are also storehouses of genetic resources for food and medicine; and their carbon content is much greater than the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. These global goods and services impress upon all of us to save them by all means.

Moreover, there is an alarming trend worthy of our attention. The loss of forests resulting from deforestation, forest degradation and desertification continues. More than one billion people dependent on forests are affected. Around 132,667 million hectares are classified as forestland. However, 13 million hectares were lost annually from 2000 to 2005. Much of the loss and degradation occurred in the conversion forest as well as protection forests.

This phenomenon of destruction impacts biodiversity. It could also potentially increase the severity of both climate change and desertification resulting in even greater water scarcity, loss of soil fertility, and reduced land productivity.

Neither Indonesia nor the rest of humankind can afford to suffer this major loss. It would be catastrophic for all societies and economies. As a result, Indonesia tries to contribute its share in preserving forests. We believe in the effectiveness of inter-regional and sub-regional cooperation. This cooperation will undoubtedly complement regional and international cooperation.

Thus, Indonesia has joined with the governments of Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam to initiate the Heart of Borneo. A joint conservation program was initiated to preserve a vast forested area of 2 million hectares on the island of Borneo or Kalimantan as we call in Indonesia. The establishment of the F-li Tropical Rainforest Countries group is a testimony of our efforts together with like minded countries.

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, Indonesia has enhanced efforts to address illegal logging and eliminate the causes of deforestation. We believe that there must be a sustained and coordinated international action to fight the destruction of forest, in particular by illegal logging. In this context, international cooperation should encompass efforts in preventing and combating illicit international trafficking in forest products. Timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources, to name a few examples.

At the national level, we have also embarked on a National Campaign for tree planting as part of the strategy to achieve sustainable forest management. In addition, we are in the process of preparing the readiness plan for Indonesia to develop demonstration activities fore the implementation of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Mr. Chairman, the international forest instrument of 2007 aided our efforts. It opens the door to integrate all related issues in a holistic and coordinated manner within the framework of sustainable development. The approach will ensure that the benefits of forests are available to meet the needs of present and future generations.

A critical limitation and major challenge in implementing the forest instrument, however, is the lack of an appropriate international financial mechanism. A sad cliché. But, it is the reality facing developing countries. They lack the resources to do so. Global partnership can be an important instrument in supporting national action plans. These plans should include measures to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

Developing countries, can, and have initiated efforts among themselves to address this difficult situation. But, it will not carry much needed effects should the hand of cooperation is not lend by developed countries. No countries, be developed or developing countries, can meet the challenge of this century without forging a constructive cooperation.

Thus, stronger cooperation between developed and developing countries is of paramount importance. For such cooperation to see the light of success, we have to ensure our work address the fundamental concerns of all countries. We understand the concerns of developed countries. But, we wish that the concerns of developing countries are equally heard, and addressed. For that reason, we wish to stress, once again, about the legitimate aspiration of many developing countries to achieve sustainable forest management without sacrificing opportunities for economic growth.

This is the only avenue to ensure progresses to be made, jointly, not alone. There is no other way.

Mr. Chairman, measures to assist developing countries go beyond financial support. Capacity building and technology transfer should be part of the equation of comprehensiveness. This will be in line with this Forum’s mandate to decide on the establishment of a financial mechanism, among other things, to implement forest instruments.

As reflected in the Bali Roadmap, arrangements under consideration reveal what can be accomplished to provide financing for forest preservation. Within the carbon market, payments for avoided deforestation and land degradation will provide an economically competitive alternative to forest conversion.

The carbon market for intact forests, potentially worth billions of dollars, will outweigh the most profitable agro-industrial forest developments.

On the other hand, we should recognize that the issue of forests goes beyond the issue of climate change. Forest is much more than assets for carbon sequestration. The full value of forests must be considered within the framework of sustainable development.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Indonesia is advocating a mechanism that provides adequate financial resources to compensate countries for the economic benefits they lose by reducing deforestation and land degradation. But, we wish to underscore the need for a financial mechanism that ensures the implementation of sustainable forest management in a comprehensive manner.

The implementation of forest instruments represents a solution, an interlinked process in which we stop deforestation, save biodiversity, store greenhouse gas emissions. We must do it right. That, in our humble view, is the only way to preserve our planet for the benefit for present and future generations.

I thank you.

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