Indonesia is obviously not a European or North American country, which, at the onset of industrialization, cleared all forests, including their wildlife inhabitants. Today, sub-tropical primary forests and wildlife no longer exist. European and North American reports on the existence of vast forests, as seen in FAO statistical data, are secondary forests that were initially idle farmland (Soemarwoto, 1992). The current generation in Europe and North America are undertaking reforestation, including the reestablishment of conservation zones (High Conservation Value, HCV) and high carbon stock zone (High Carbon Stock, HCS). Although it’s the right measures to take, it will not retrieve what has been perished in the past.
Under these concepts, which are now being campaigned by Indonesian NGOs at home, the HCV comprises the values of HCV 1 (Species Diversity), HCV 2 (Landscape-level Ecosystems and Mosaics), HCV 3 (Ecosystems and Habitats), HCV 4 (Critical Ecosystem Services), HCV 5 (Community Needs) and HCV 6 (Cultural Values). Meanwhile, the HCS concept consists of HK 3 (High Density Forest), HK 2 (Medium Density Forest), HK 1 (Low Density Forest), BM (Young Scrub), BT (Old Scrub) and LT (Cleared/Open Land).
Indonesia, on the other hand, has long classified “deforestation” areas and “non-deforestation” areas as its own version of HCV and HCS. Forests classified under the HCS and HCV concepts are akin to the protected forest and conserved forestays stipulated in Law No. 41/1999 on Forestry, while Law No. 26/2007 on National Spatial Planning stipulates that these forests be located within in Conservation Zones. In Indonesia, the conservation of HCV/HCS forests and natural biodiversity is already promoted by the protected forest and conserved forest designations.
As mentioned earlier, both protected and conserved forests are mainly primary forests, a natural asset that is protected and is not to be converted for any other use. The protected/conserved forests in Conservation Zones are “home” to Indonesia’s natural biodiversity that includes wildlife, plants and microorganisms, have a hydrologic role and the function to conserve the ecosystem as a whole.
The type of forest that is convertible for development purposes is a production forest, specifically the conversion production forest, the conversion of which must go through a set of procedures as required by the Forestry Law. Production forests are dubbed a “land bank”, a reserve within the Cultivation Zone to meet development and public needs for urban areas, residential areas, industrial zones, farms and plantations, as stipulated in the Spatial Planning Law.
The government’s conversion of production forests in Cultivation Zones is made solely upon development/public needs. The Forestry Law mandates that conversions should not be based on the carbon stock value of the forest as demanded by NGOs. A verified production forest can be converted into a different Cultivation Zone function, regardless of its carbon stock value. On the other hand, the conversion of protected/conserved forests into a Cultivation Zone is prohibited, regardless of how insignificant its carbon stock value.