Palm oil is Indonesia’s top exported commodity and has become a key economic drivers for the country. However, it has also been often associated with the loss of Indonesia's valuable forests.
WRI established its Indonesia office in 2014. We work with leaders in business, government, and civil society to address climate change, forest restoration, forest governance, and access to information. Learn more about our work in Indonesia, including our Forests and Landscapes in Indonesia, Governance of Forests Initiative, and Access Initiative projects. Visit the WRI Indonesia website.
Forest fires ran rampant across Indonesia in the summer of 2013, spreading a toxic haze across South East Asia. Governments and NGOs are using WRI’s data and analysis to hold palm oil and timber companies accountable for these damaging forest and peat fires.
Burning forest is illegal in Indonesia. Yet June 2013 was one of the worst months for Indonesia’s fires in more than a decade, spreading an enormous cloud of haze and unhealthy pollution across the country and into Malaysia and Singapore. However, the governments of South East Asia didn’t have access to the same forest data, making it difficult to know where the fires were located and who might be responsible.
Using data from NASA and the Indonesian government, WRI was able to show within a few hours that half of the fires were within the boundaries of timber plantations and oil palm concessions. We leveraged our deep expertise on Indonesian forest and land issues, strong data analysis, and communications expertise to frame the issues around the fires and encourage governments to hold specific companies accountable. Our experts provided in-depth background information, clarified the facts where possible, and offered ongoing insights to media, resulting in coverage in more than 200 local and international outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe, and Straits Times. The fires analysis became the most viewed blog series in WRI history, with more than 27,000 page views. This significant media outreach and attention improved the understanding of the crisis internationally, and helped build momentum to solve the problem.
The Indonesian and Singaporean governments have stated at the highest levels that they will prosecute major companies accused of setting illegal fires to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Crucially, the governments of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand agreed at an ASEAN international summit to establish a joint platform for monitoring fires using satellite technology. They will also share company concession data among governments in order to hold companies accountable when fires are detected on their land. Improved data availability, law enforcement, and government cooperation could dramatically reduce the occurrence of forest and peat land fires in Indonesia, enhancing local communities’ health and the economy.
Moving forward, WRI will use Global Forest Watch, a soon-to-be-launched forest monitoring system, to push for strong natural resource management on a worldwide scale.
The world’s forests and the people who depend on them face a host of challenges—including deforestation, rural poverty, and degradation of critical ecosystem services. These negative outcomes are often exacerbated by weak forest governance, including low levels of transparency and participation in forest decision-making and as well as poor oversight of forest activities. To tackle these issues, decision-makers need better information about the institutional, political, and social factors that drive governance failures.
An updated tool from WRI’s Governance of Forests Initiative aims to help policy-makers, civil society organizations, and other forest stakeholders evaluate governance of their countries’ forests. Assessing Forest Governance: The Governance of Forests Initiative Indicator Framework updates the original GFI indicators, which were published in 2009 and piloted by WRI’s civil society partners in Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia. Using the indicators, stakeholders can identify strengths and weaknesses in forest governance and develop reforms that benefit both people and planet.
The Governance of Forests Initiative Indicator Framework
This publication presents a revised version of the Governance of Forests Initiative (GFI) Indicator Framework, a comprehensive menu of indicators that can be used to diagnose strengths and weaknesses in forest governance. It updates the...
Indonesia has the world’s third-largest rainforest, which is a haven for biodiversity and an economic lifeline for many rural communities. However, Indonesian forests are in rapid decline and the country regularly tops deforestation hotspots lists. The key to protecting Indonesia’s forests remains reforming its massive forestry and agriculture sectors. By giving these industries the tools to produce commodities such as palm oil and wood pulp sustainably, Indonesia can increase agricultural production without contributing to deforestation.
WRI has produced a new issue brief to address this challenge, How to Change Legal Land Use Classifications to Support More Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia. This publication provides a “how-to guide” for companies to shift their palm oil operations from forested to degraded land, as well as recommendations on how Indonesian policymakers can make this process easier.
WRI mempublikasikan analisis singkat untuk membahas tantangan tersebut: How to Change Legal Land Use Classifications to Support More Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia (Bagaimana Mengubah Klasifikasi Legal Penggunaan Kawasan untuk Mendukung Kelapa Sawit yang Lebih Berkelanjutan di Indonesia). Publikasi ini memberikan panduan praktis bagi perusahaan untuk memindahkan operasi kelapa sawitnya dari lahan berhutan ke lahan terdegradasi, sekaligus menawarkan beberapa rekomendasi kepada para pembuat kebijakan di Indonesia untuk membuat proses ini dapat berlangsung dengan lebih mudah.
How to Change Legal Land Use Classifications to Support More Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Indonesia
Indonesia's industry and government leaders have announced goals to expand palm oil production while avoiding forest loss and social conflict. Achieving those goals depends on establishing new plantations on suitable, non-forested land and respecting local rights. Land classification in...
For further reading, see our op-ed in the Jakarta Post.
Less than four months ago, millions of people across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were choking on the worst air pollution ever recorded in Southeast Asia as hundreds of fires burned across Sumatra. The fires caused serious damage, eliciting a public health emergency, closing schools and harming tourism and other businesses.
This week the Sultan of Brunei is hosting many of Asia’s heads of state for the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. Preventing new fires and haze are high on the agenda. Key decisions and actions are urgently needed from the presidents and prime ministers this week.