“Debt-for-Nature” Swap Generating $28.5M for Forest Conservation in Indonesia

Written by Greg Fishbein on . Posted in Learn

Forests help provide Indonesians with clean drinking water, food, medicine, building materials, and economic livelihoods. The forests are also home to many, many different plants and animals, like the endangered Bornean Orangutan. At the same time, forest destruction and degradation are by far Indonesia’s biggest sources of carbon pollution.

My organization, The Nature Conservancy, is involved in a very exciting agreement between the Indonesian and U.S. governments and WWF to inject significant additional investments into forest conservation efforts in three districts of East and West Kalimantan – located on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

This agreement is a $28.5 million investment made possible by the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act. It is designed to stem the problem of forest destruction – by allowing Indonesia to redirect a portion of its foreign debt to investments in forest conservation efforts. This same type of deal has already generated hundreds of millions of dollars in tropical forest conservation in Peru, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil and other places around the world.

The deal will demonstrate how Indonesia can grow and create jobs in a smarter way that minimizes impact on the forest, improves the livelihoods of local communities, and ultimately allows the government to achieve its twin goals of 7 percent economic growth and up to a 41 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.                  

Some of the really exciting outcomes we’re working with the government to achieve include improving local forest rights, helping choose the best places for palm oil plantations and agriculture, and protecting vital water and food sources. All of this is working towards a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 2 million tons per year – the equivalent of taking about 400,000 cars off the road each year.

With creative investments like this, we can change the game for tropical forests and people in Indonesia. It’s about making economic development and sustainable forest management a unified goal in Indonesia while, at the same time, helping to address the global carbon pollution challenge – in turn helping all of us.

Greg Fishbein is managing director of Forest Carbon at The Nature Conservancy.

Photo by Bridget Besaw/TNC (Carbon monitoring in the forests of Berau in Indonesia.)

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