Zooming in on Indonesia’s environmental service policies

27 August 2018

Non-monetary rewards play a significant role in encouraging people to look after the environment they live in, Indonesia expert Abidah Setyowati reveals in a case study.

Be it biodegradation, water services, or the production of ecosystem goods such as timber or pharmaceuticals – ecosystem services are an essential part of making human life possible.

So how are governments translating these services into policies? A global team of researchers from The Australian National University, University of Sheffield, Carleton University, Universidad di Tella, and Griffith University are conducting five country-focused case studies to find out. Abidah Setyowati, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of International Relations, is putting Indonesia under the microscope.

In Indonesia, financial compensation for ecosystem services has long been the go-to policy tool. But in the 111 semi-structured interviews with multi actors, she revealed that the priority for the people is not the payment, but legal access to the forests.

“Many people living in upstream areas of Lombok occupy the area considered ‘illegal’ by the state. The payments are a departure from the community forest initiative, which aims to give these people rights to own the land they live on”, Abidah says.

Aware that ecosystem service policies in Indonesia are fragmented, the team around Abidah wants to provide tangible policy recommendations and facilitate ecosystem services valuation. “We reveal what is actually working on the ground and try to help people change their mindsets to more effectively protect nature”, Abidah explains.

Abidah shared her initial findings during a conference in Indonesia in February and discovered that “even though payment for ecosystems has been done for a long time, it is not very widely known to the public, and only certain sectors, like forestry, have been receptive. The government needs to more efficiently promote its policies”.

The project is part of the Europe and Global Challenges Initiative and supported with $1.3 million by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Wellcome Trust and the Volkswagenstiftung.

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