Ulu Masen REDD Demonstration Project
Aceh is a forest landscape where the interests of local people, extractive industries and globally important biodiversity are in conflict. Two prevailing factors have ensured large tracts of forest in Ulu Masen have remained relatively undisturbed: the three decade long separatist conflict that raged in Aceh meant that forests were generally thought to be unsafe; and the fact that much of the area is mountainous terrain, thus making it difficult to access. The signing of the peace agreement in 2005 brought an end to the conflict. And the post-tsunami reconstruction process has also added pressure to forests as timber needs soared.
The focus of this paper is specifically on the area of the Ulu Masen REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) demonstration project. Designated by Aceh Governor Decree No.522/372/2009, the Ulu Masen REDD demonstration project covers around 750,000 ha spread over six districts: Pidie, Pidie Jaya, West Aceh, Aceh Jaya, Aceh Besar, and encompasses a small area of Central Aceh. The area’s forest cover is however, highly vulnerable to degradation as it is afforded a varied and largely limited level of protection.
This paper is based on research carried out in Aceh from December 2009 to April 2010. A review of existing literature was conducted together with a detailed analysis of legislation and government documents. Interviews with government actors at the provincial, district, subdistrict level and below enabled us to make a preliminary assessment of the market, policy and governance challenges in the project area that underlie deforestation and forest degradation. Discussions with community members and other local stakeholders gave an insight into levels of transparency of decision making, and on the level of stakeholder satisfaction in their ability to participate meaningfully in the REDD process to date in Aceh. Tentative conclusions are drawn on whether, and to what extent, the project strategy to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is likely to be effective, efficient and equitable.