Community Carbon Measurement in Kutai Barat
In September this year WWF Indonesia conducted community carbon accounting training in a village forest under the IREDD project; a consortium project hosted by WWF Indonesia and lead by the University of Copenhagen. The three-year IREDD project was launched at the beginning of 2011, is funded by the EU and is an important REDD activity happening on the ground.
The idea behind this initiative was to test the feasibility of community involvement in measuring and monitoring the forest’s carbon, said WWF’s REDD Project Coordinator, Zulfira Warta. “We want to see community involvement in measuring the forests because by increasing the participation of communities, we increase protection,” he said. It is also, according to Warta, a cost effective method of monitoring carbon levels.
The 15 to 20 participants in the carbon measurement training were mostly local shifting cultivators or people who owned their own land. Tested within an area of 450 hectares inside Batu Majang village, 45 sampling plots, with diameters of 30 metres, were set out. Each plot’s carbon content was measured within the week. According to Warta, measuring the carbon is the first basic step of the REDD project. “We need to know where the carbon is and how much that carbon needs to be protected,” he said.
WWF would now like to replicate the same process in different villages. To do this they are developing a model and method for ongoing community carbon measurement training.
“If a model is created the training can be replicated all over the Heart of Borneo,” Warta said. Even with the development of a community carbon measuring model underway, REDD remains a difficult concept to communicate at a local level. “At an international and national level there are many ways to learn,” said Warta. “Local has to be more specific.”
To address this, WWF Indonesia is in the process of developing communication tools to help stakeholders better understand REDD’s goals and purposes. This is happening in each of the four REDD focus locations across Indonesia. Apart from Kutai Barat, these include Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra, Jayapura district in Papua province and Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan. These areas were selected for REDD programs because of the differences in their biophysical, social, economic and local political statues.
To find the best local tools WWF Indonesia is holding meetings with stakeholders, communities, forest rangers, government officials at a sub district level and local customary leaders. Their first was held with representatives from Sebangau National Park, Central Kalimantan REDD site in October.
“After a presentation on REDD we had discussions about whether those present understood it or not,” said Warta. “We wanted to know what they understood and what they didn’t.” The WWF REDD project is now working on the feedback, developing tools and planning to hold more communication discussions in other areas, including Heart of Borneo’s Kutai Barat in January 2012.
One of the major findings, so far, is the importance of language. All REDD messages will be translated into local dialects. Another is that it is better to have local people trained to deliver messages to members of their own communities. Radio, picture flow charts and community meetings will serve as the vehicles in the delivery process.
Another aspect relating to the project at a local level is the importance of Free Informed Consent in the communities. This means that before starting any project there is an obligation to engage the community and gain permission to proceed. WWF’s aim is to develop a provisional forestry guideline for Free Informed Consent implementation. “This is a crucial principle of developing projects and models at a local level,” said Warta.