A long bet on the future of Indonesia’s forests

Photo by: Michael Igoe / Devex

KALIMANTAN, Indonesia — The Mentaya river flows south from the Indonesian timber port of Sampit, thick with mud and debris. Barges blanketed in timber drag their weight up and down the river, while skinny, wooden boats with pull start engines dodge between them. A quieter stretch of waterfront features Sampit’s biggest tourist attraction, the Jelawat, a giant statue of a carp, raised on a pedestal above an elevated promenade.

The other side of the river is home to a massive investment in peat forest conservation — one that is either a pioneer in landscape restoration, a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of trying to anticipate climate change policy, or a mix of both. Since 2008, the Katingan Mentaya Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project has been constructing a model of ecosystem protection and restoration that combines community development, forest conservation, and carbon trading.

While some experts consider the project a gold standard example of what reduced emissions from decreased deforestation and forest degradation — or REDD+ — projects could look like, the global market for Katingan’s ecosystem services has yet to materialize. Katingan’s investors have been left holding the bill, but they still believe they are at the forefront of a carbon credit revolution — one that is just waiting for global climate action to catch up.

Continue reading and explore the visual story about the market-based forest conservation project in the peatlands of southern Borneo doing everything right — except making money.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.

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