What it's about:
Agricultural production, especially in developing countries, plays a large role in carbon dioxide emissions. The culprit: “Slash and burn,” a crude deforestation technique used in a number of countries, no more so than in Indonesia.
According to the Global Fire Emissions Database, on many days in September and October the carbon dioxide emissions from Indonesia’s fires exceed the average daily emissions from all economic activity in the United States.
Indonesia has developed plans to counter this massive deforestation. At the core is encouraging farming in state-owned forests -“social forestry.”
Social forestry is a process by which entire communities obtain permits to legally farm in forests owned by the Indonesian government. Once they obtain permits, families plant and harvest various perennial trees, including cashew nuts, nutmeg and candle nuts. Between them are planted food crops like corn, bananas and avocado. The products are consumed by farm families, greatly increasing food security. Surplus is sold in local markets, significantly adding to family incomes.
But obtaining legal permits can be a daunting challenge, especially for farmers with limited literacy.
That’s where international NGOs like World Neighbors come in. These groups work with communities to identify relevant government bodies, prepare necessary documents and help farmers interact with officials. Word Neighbors has helped communities obtain legal permits for 42,000 acres of state-owned forests. 7,400 households from 43 villages in Eastern Indonesia can now legally access and farm this land.
With the help of facilitators who live in villages, many farmers have also formed cooperatives. These groups have established savings and credit programs to increase plantings and output, developed marketing strategies to grow sales and have learned to advocate for government
support. This includes new water supplies, infrastructure and basic health services.
The Indonesian government is devoting more resources to encourage “social forestry” in state-controlled forests. It makes sense. Forest is not being burnt down. Food production and incomes have increased. Connection to and interaction with government institutions has become the norm.
And, over time, carbon dioxide emissions will come way down.
Why it's noteworthy:
Addressing climate change is moving ahead on every level. Development NGOs need to make it an integral part of their programmes.
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