A new direction in climate compatible development: Indonesia’s Forest Moratorium

Case Summary: 

Indonesia has large mining, agriculture, and timber industries. These industries often require large swaths of land cleared, resulting in large-scale deforestation. Concerned with deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, the president of Indonesia placed a 2-year moratorium on permits for new land-use in forest and peatland regions. The goal of this moratorium was to reduce the rate of deforestation, and also to use the time to evaluate and redesign the permitting process to make land-use more. During the two-year moratorium the government reviewed permits and reissued, revoked, or relocated permits. Some permits were granted illegally, were not operated in compliance with land-use requirements or were in areas with high conservation value. Work was done to incentivize permit holders to adopt sustainable practices or relocate to land with low conservation value. The government also worked strongly with local jurisdictions, law enforcement, and businesses to enforce rules around forest usage.

Conservation efforts such as the Indonesian forest moratorium are unique because they require significant monitoring and enforcement. The best practices described by program administrators include:

  • Obtaining buy-in from the private sector. In Indonesia, the private sector is highly influential in decisions made on land-use and, in some cases, can impede efforts by the government to reduce or prevent the harvesting of natural resources. Key to this program was to identify industries and companies that would benefit from proper land use and to collaborate with these stakeholders.
  • Building publicly available and transparent data. Data was put into the form of maps with easy-to-read information on regions where new licenses were suspended. The map was open for critical review and feedback from the public. The maps became valuable tools for law-enforcement to carry out monitoring activities and enforce regulations around deforestation.
  • Finding political and financial support for the moratorium. The moratorium was controversial as it slowed economic development in some sectors. Necessary to this project was finding the political will to maintain the moratorium despite some resistance from private companies and individuals. Political support increased as international investors were found who provided new funding streams for conservation.
  • Develop institutional coordination and defined roles. To succeed at enforcing the moratorium, close relationships were built with local governments to provide resources and oversight to the monitoring of lands under the moratorium.
  • Tracking success and metrics. Some aspects of deforestation cannot be viewed from satellites, such as land-use efficiency or farming practices. The program had to develop new, measurable metrics that could be used to incentivize compliance and monitor for infringement.

The moratorium was believed by the Indonesian government to not just be used as a tool to achieve greenhouse gas reductions, but also an opportunity to rethink business-as-usual and significantly change the country’s land-use practices to support low-carbon development.

East Asia and Pacific
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Analysis and Data Collection, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, Linking with the Sustainable Development Goals, Monitoring and Evaluation, Long-Term Strategies
Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)
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