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Indonesia's first REDD project finally approved

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Rimba Raya, the world's largest REDD+ project, has finally been approved by the Indonesian government and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a leading certification standard for carbon credits. 

The 64,000-hectare forest carbon project in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan Province on the island of Borneo is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 119 million tons over its 30-year life-span. The emissions reductions will come from avoiding drainage of area's carbon dense peatlands and conversion of its forests to oil palm plantations. 

According to SCS Global Services, the auditor that verified the project's carbon accounting, Rimba Raya reduced emissions by 2.1 million tons between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, resulting in the largest-ever number of Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) generated in a single year. 

"The Rimba Raya project has undergone a lengthy and complex review process," said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, SCS Executive Vice President, in a press release. "The scale of this project is truly precedent setting, demonstrating a strong market value in preserving forests." 

Drainage of peatland in Central Kalimantan.

Verification came after the Ministry of Forestry signed off on the project. Lack of government approval had kept Rimba Raya in limbo for three years. During that time, the conservation concession was reduced from 90,000 ha to less than 64,000 ha, threatening the viability of the project, which had been developed by InfiniteEARTH. 

Now that the project has been approved — Indonesia's first officially sanctioned REDD+ project — supporters say it will help protect critical habitat for endangered orangutans. 

"Rimba Raya will be one of the most important Orangutan conservation projects in the world," said Birute Mary Galdikas of the conservation group, Orangutan Foundation International, which is a beneficiary of the project. "It is nothing less than the promise of survival for the endangered orangutan." 

Now approved, Rimba Raya may provide a green light to other REDD+ project developers in Indonesia. Meanwhile, Rimba Raya's backers, including Russian energy giant Gazprom and the insurance firm Allianz, can now sell tradable carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market. Credits in the voluntary carbon market are typically used by companies to "offset" their greenhouse gas emissions for corporate social responsibility programs, rather than complying with climate regulations. 

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of annual forest loss in the world. Deforestation, forest degradation, and damage to carbon-dense peatlands account for over three-quarters of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. 

Conversion of peat forest in Central Kalimantan for an oil palm plantation. Taken by Rhett A. Butler in March 2013. 

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Linda Brown

Linda Brown

Senior Vice President