How Can Social Safeguards of REDD+ Function Effectively Conserve Forests and Improve Local Livelihoods? A Case from Meru Betiri National Park, East Java, Indonesia

In Land
Volume (Issue): 2015, 4
Peer-reviewed Article

The National REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation-Plus) Strategy in Indonesia highlights the importance of local participation
and the reform of land tenure in the success of forest conservation. National parks are
a main target area for REDD+. National parks in Indonesia have been suffering from
forest destruction and conflicts between governments and local communities. This study
investigated: (1) the historical process of developing the REDD+ project in collaboration
with multiple stakeholders including government authorities, local NGOs, and local people;
(2) the social and economic impacts of the REDD+ project on local people; and (3) the local
awareness of and motivations to participate in the REDD+ project in Meru Betiri National
Park in Indonesia. Interviews of stakeholders including village leaders, NGO staff, and park
staff were conducted to obtain an overview of the REDD+ project in the national park.
Interviews with a questionnaire were also conducted among randomly selected heads of
households who participated or did not participate in the REDD+ project and lived adjacent
to the national park. Our analysis revealed that participants in the project obtained the right
to use illegally harvested bared lands for intercropping while planting trees to recover forest
ecosystems inside the national park. This opportunity could have contributed to a drastic
increase in income, particularly for economically disadvantaged people, and to the recovery
of forest ecosystems. Although local people did not fully recognize the meaning of REDD+
or carbon credits, they were enthusiastic to join in managing and patrolling forests because
of their satisfaction with the income generated by the national park. However, the challenge
is how both the recovery of forests and income generation from the project can be maintained
in a situation of insufficient funding from donors and unsettled arguments about the benefit
of sharing carbon credits with local people.