2 September 2007
At the era of Soeharto, the former Indonesian President in rule for 32 years, the use of forests as one of natural resources focused on logging. Over 50 % logging concessions in the era were operated in Kalimantan. After the president stepped down, the forests are still significant as a source of revenue. About 70% of the national logging production is from the island.
Not only logging activities, mining in the State land can also be found in several areas of Indonesia, including Kalimantan. Several mining concessions are found in protected forests such as in South Kalimantan (Banjarmasin Post, 9 April 2007). Another economic activity related to forest areas is plantation. Big companies in Sumatra and Kalimantan converted the forests into plantation such as palm oil and eucalyptus.
From natural resources and forest-based economic activities, some local governments gain big revenues. For example, the province of Central Kalimantan depends on several forest products and plantation such as palm oil and rubber. Data of Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal (BKPM) Central Kalimantan, the local investment board, issued in December 2006, showed the export value of forestry sectors (such as moulding and plywood) was US$ 74.5 millions.
Although forests have provided economic contribution, the poverty in the forest areas is still there. About 10 millions of Indonesia’s poorest people depend on forest resources. They live in or surrounding forest areas. In Kalimantan, the situation is similar. For example, the poverty number in East Kalimantan, one of the Indonesia’s richest provinces, in 2006 increased by 30% compared to 2005. In 2005, the poverty number was about 464,000 persons, compared to 2006 which was 606,000 persons. Some of them live in rural and surrounding the forests.
Forest dwellers in many parts of Indonesia, including Kalimantan, for generations have looked after forests. Some of them have gained little benefit from the forest in term of economic values. They do farming and agroforestry. They also use the forest resources mostly from non-timber forest products such as honey and rattan to sell. Mostly, the activities can only met for their subsistence. Not much economic value is gained. However, still they take care of the forests. For them, besides for daily subsistence, forests have other significant meaning such as for ecological and spiritual purposes.
Recently, the world has faced many disasters (such as floods, droughts, hunger and spread of certain deseases). Scientist prove that they relate to the phenomenon of Global Warming, which leading to further impacts. Forests in equatorial countries such as Indonesia become more important as their functions to capture CO2. This gives opportunities to trade carbon.
In the context of carbon trade, for improving livelihood, communities in Kalimantan, who have take care of forests could be supported and facilitated to get actively involved in carbon trade. Here, they provide forests. In return, they are provided benefits from carbon trade which will be able to use to reach better life (daily needs, health, education, etc). Moreover, they will still be able to keep forest for other significant purposes such as religious values. Thus, the promotion of carbon trade in such communities will relate aspects of forest conservation (non-logging or non-forest conversion activities), better livelihood and keep people’s traditions.