Ecosystem Restoration Concessions in Indonesia

Conflicts and Discourses

Author: Reiner Buergin


Approaches and instruments focused on market mechanisms and private enterprises, including private protected areas, are promoted as ways to resolve global environmental and developmental problems. In Indonesia, Ecosystem Restoration Concessions (ERCs) have been developed as a new market-oriented governmental instrument to counter current deforestation processes and to restore forest ecosystems. Conservation and development organizations, along with state authorities, view ERCs as a highly promising instrument in Indonesia and in other countries as well. Experiences with ERCs are still limited, however, and their viability is uncertain. The implementation of ERCs in Indonesia has been controversial and the impact of ERCs on forests and forest-dependent communities has been fiercely disputed. This article explores these conflicts and disputes with a focus on the Harapan ERC and weighs the relevance of ERCs for German development cooperation. The improvement of the accountability of such projects and the implementation of mediation facilities are emphasized as prerequisites to establishing such market-oriented instruments according to international standards of nature conservation, the rights of indigenous and local populations, and sustainable development. The author concludes that decisions about strategies and instruments applied in forest-related development cooperation must involve a reconsideration of the mind-sets that currently determine conservation approaches and development cooperation.

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