Afforestation in Aceh, Indonesia
The “Aceh Reforestation Project” was started in order to plant a large number of mangroves along the Aceh coastline, and replace those trees damaged or destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
Aceh has some 3 million hectares of land that has been degraded by human actions and forces of nature which the government and private interests have targeted for potential reforestation efforts (Mongabay 2007).
The final goal for this government-sponsored project is to plant 150,000 hectares of mangroves along the Aceh coastline. While this number falls short of the 350,000 hectares of mangroves destroyed or damaged in the tsunami, it still represents a large improvement and safeguard against future severe natural disasters (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
The project began in 2005 and is planned to be completed by the end of 2009 (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
Merrill Lynch announced, in April 2008, that it would invest a minimum of $9 million USD for reforestation efforts in Aceh. This is seen by many as the beginning of a potentially much larger investment by foreign banks (Niles et al. 2009).
This project stems from an overall desire to mitigate the conditions which led to the deaths of some 160,000 people in the Aceh province in the 2004 Tsunami (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
Reforestation is seen by the government as an avenue through which the local economy can be restarted, as much of the former economic sector was destroyed in the tsunami (Mongabay 2007).
The government wants to reforest the coastline with mangroves which play an important role in storm surge control by absorbing much of the energy of extreme events like tsunamis (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
Because forests were destroyed up to several kilometers inland due to the 2004 Tsunami, there is a desire to rebuild inland areas as well (Phillips and Budhiman 2005).
There is a goal to restrict saltwater intrusion into groundwater, which can be partly accomplished by the root systems of the increased tree cover (Phillips and Budhiman 2005).
The government has pushed for reforestation so that wildlife communities can be revived and biodiversity improved (Mongabay 2007).
The governor of Aceh, Irwandi Jusuf, called for a moratorium on all logging in the province, so as to restrict further deforestation (Mongabay 2007).
There is a desire to minimize land erosion by trees helping to keep soils in place (Mongabay 2007).
While some impacts of the project have been realized, the fact that the project is still going on means that most of the impacts are 'potential' rather than 'realized' (Mongabay 2007).
The project will help to significantly reforest much of the coastal tree cover that was damaged or destroyed in the 2004 Tsunami (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
There is a better system to mitigate the vulnerabilities that stem from storm surge and tsunamis (Embassy of Indonesia 2005).
Wildlife habitats have been repaired and in some cases expanded, with the commensurate increases in biodiversity (Mongabay 2007).
Large amounts of carbon dioxide have been sequestered through the planting if new trees (Mongabay 2007).
Levels of erosion have decreased, as the root systems of planted trees have helped to mitigate soil erosion (Mongabay 2007).
It is hoped that reforestation will become a viable economic activity, as there are many jobs available in the planting and maintenance of trees (Mongabay 2007).
Reforestation is hoped to help integrate Aceh into the global economy, with plans for carbon trading (Mongabay 2007).
The success of the reforestation project in Aceh requires a sustained commitment by local, state, and national governments, as well as continuity of logging moratoriums (Niles et al. 2009).
In the future, funds need to continue to be allocated for reforestation programs, as many goals will only be achieved if there is the financial support for them (Mongabay 2007).
For continued success, there is a need to improve monitoring of tree stocks and enforcement of laws, so as to limit illegal logging (Sijabat 2007).
Comprehensive, coherent, and long-term plans should be developed in order to ensure that reforestation will continue successfully in the future (Niles et al. 2009).
“Carbon for forests will help Aceh recover from war, tsunami.” 2007. http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0918-aceh.html. (last accessed 25 October 2009).
“Indonesia launches Aceh reforestation project.” 2005. Embassy of Indonesia in Ottawa, Canada. http://www.indonesia-ottawa.org/information/details.php?type=news_copy&i... (last accessed 25 October 2009).
Niles, John O., W. Boyd, K. Lawlor, E.M. Madeira, and L. Olander. 2009. Policy brief: experience on the ground, in the forests. International Forest Carbon and the Climate Change Challenge Series, Issues and Options 6: 1-7.
Phillips, M., and A. Budhiman. 2005. Fisheries tsunami emergency programme. ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/document/tsunamis_05/indonesia/cons_miss_rep/Philli.... (last accessed 24 October 2009).
Sijabat, Ridwan Max. 2007. International agencies furthering Aceh deforestation: Greenomics. The Jakarta Post. 11: 0215-3432.