Land degradation is an important issue worldwide because it affects food production and people’s welfare [1]. In Indonesia, according to the country’s Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) National Report, 24.3 million ha of land was degraded in 2013. This was mainly caused by inappropriate land use, a lack of soil and water conservation measures in areas that entailed severe erosion, sedimentation, and degradation of water condition (quantity and quality) in the downstream area [2].

Land is essential in fulfilling human needs, as it is the backbone of agricultural, industry, mining, public housing, and other human activities. While land use change is necessary and essential for economic development and social progress, land use change without a sustainable approach can contribute to land degradation and negatively impact the environment. According to Indonesia’s LDN National Report, major land use changes occurred in Indonesia during the period 2000-2010. The total area of forest decreased by more than 2 million hectares (1.7%), while the total area of shrubs, grasslands and sparsely vegetated areas increased by 276,966.78 hectares (3%). The total area of cropland also increased by 1,810,485.16 hectares (2.7%). At the same time, the land productivity of forest and cropland declined by 9,246.4 and 21,208.3 sq km, respectively [2].

Land-use change in Indonesia, principally that involving deforestation and agricultural conversion, is a major source of GHG emissions [3]. In 2019, GHG emissions in Indonesia were dominated by Land-Use Change and Forestry (LUCF), which included peat fires (50.13%) [4]. Indonesia has over 140,000 square kilometers of biodiverse and carbon-rich peatlands across the lowlands of eastern Sumatra, southern Kalimantan, and western New Guinea [5]. Peatland ecosystems have unique characteristics, including the enormous capacity to hold water, and serve as a hydrological buffer zone for the surrounding area. They store high levels of carbon and absorb GHGs from the atmosphere. However, peatlands are also highly vulnerable to damage if not managed properly, in the form of subsidence, or fire if peat forest is cleared and drained (peat drainage) [6]. Up to half of the country’s peatlands have been disturbed – drained, logged, burned, or converted into rice fields or oil palm plantations. In the 2015 fire season, fires across Indonesia emitted more carbon dioxide each day than the entire US economy. More than half of these fires occurred on peatlands, causing an economic loss of USD 16 billion, not including the loss of ecosystem services or regional impacts [5].


Driving factors of land use change in Indonesia include rapid population growth, intensive and extensive agricultural practices, urbanization, and economic development. Land use/land cover change due to human activities contributes to land degradation through deforestation, removal of natural vegetation, and urban sprawl; unsustainable agricultural land use management practices, such as use and abuse of fertilizer, pesticide, and heavy machinery; and overgrazing, improper crop rotation, poor irrigation practices, and so forth. The consequences and symptoms caused by mistakes in land managing also contribute to the negative effects in upstream and downstream such as floods, pollution, and sedimentation of water bodies and reservoirs [2].

Several factors contribute to changes in the country’s forest cover, including the conversion of forest areas for other development purposes such as: (1) plantations and transmigration; (2) unsustainable forest management; (3) illegal logging; (4) changes in forest use purposes; (5) legal conversion into other use areas; (6) mining activities; (7) illegal land occupation; (8) forest fires; and (9) natural disasters. Less effective and failures to optimize reforestation and land rehabilitation have also contributed to an increase in the extent of severely degraded land in Indonesia [6]. In addition, deforestation and drainage associated with expanding agriculture has caused extensive destruction to Indonesian peatlands, making the naturally fire-resilient peatlands more susceptible to fire. As a result, large fires are now a regular occurrence in the country [7].


Key policies and governance approach

Indonesia, as a party to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has developed its National Action Programme (NAP) for Combating Land Degradation, which was signed in 2002. The NAP focuses on actions and the consolidation of projects and activities identified, to achieve an integrated solution for combatting land degradation in Indonesia. In line with the scope of the convention, the programmes are directed at solving land degradation, developing strategies for drought mitigation and relief, and encouraging partnerships with local communities to combat land degradation in the driest provinces in Indonesia, namely East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, and Central Sulawesi. In addition, Indonesia has also adopted its Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) National Voluntary Target and Strategy. Related to achieving LDN, degraded land in Indonesia could be reduced by 27.5 million ha by 2040. This means that LDN could be achieved in Indonesia by 2040, with the assumption that there is no additional degraded land (or less than 3.2 million ha during 2015- 2040) [2].

National efforts to halt deforestation and peatland degradation were bolstered in 2011, when the government announced a moratorium on the clearing of primary forest and the conversion of peatlands [5]. This moratorium was extended three times and then made permanent through a presidential instruction in 2019 [6]. In the wake of widespread peatland fires in 2015, the Government established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) with the responsibility for coordinating and facilitating the implementation of peatland restoration on a minimum of 2 million hectares of degraded peatlands by 2020 [5], [8]. The implementation of peatlands restoration has been deployed using the 3R concept, which means rewetting, revegetating, and revitalizing the community’s economy and livelihood (around peatlands) [8].

Additionally, through Indonesia’s Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience 2050 (LTS-LCCR), the Government envisages achieving the Forestry and Other Land Use Net Carbon Sink by 2030, referred to as FOLU Net Sink 2030. The National Strategy for FOLU Net Sink 2030 employs four main strategies, namely: (1) Avoiding deforestation: curbing on deforestation rates in order to achieve the FOLU Net Sink 2030 which limits planned deforestation up to 6.8 million hectares by 2030; (2) Conservation and sustainable forest management: reducing forest degradation driven by excessive logging and production forest encroachment, and extending protected forest area in both production forests and other use areas (APL); (3) Protection and restoration of peatlands; emissions from peatlands account for 50% of total emissions in the AFOLU sector, which mostly come from peatland fires and dry peatland decomposition; and (4) Sink enhancement: accelerating afforestation and reforestation of severely degraded land outside and inside forest areas as well as urban revegetation [6].

Other important policies include the country’s main agricultural policies that are framed by the 2012 Food Law, which establishes the objectives of food sovereignty and self-reliance. In practice, these objectives have led to programmes aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in several staple products (rice, maize, soybeans, sugar and beef). Consequently, the most important component of agricultural support in Indonesia is market price support to producers, including some negative support to palm oil. There is also a food assistance programme (BPNT) to support poor consumers. Law Number 22/2019 on sustainable agricultural systems aims to further improve production sustainability. The law mandates that the achievement of food sovereignty should take into account the carrying capacity of ecosystems, mitigation of GHG emissions and adaptation to climate change. The main environmental sustainability aspects covered by the law are land use, seeds and planting, water quantity and quality, harvest and post-harvest losses, and research and development [9].


Successes and remaining challenges

According to Indonesia’s Green Economy Index, the environment pillar for Indonesia began by scoring poorly, particularly between 2011 to 2015. Two reasons primarily contributed to this: the low share of renewable energy in Indonesia’s primary energy mix and the degradation of the country’s peatlands. In response, the government established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of peatlands restoration on over 2 million hectares of degraded peatland by 2020. Though the realization of this goal fell short, the effort successfully restored almost a million hectares of degraded peatland. Progress in peatland restoration was supported in the country by the collaboration across multi-stakeholders related to peatland management, such as the private sector and non-governmental organizations. However, law enforcement is still needed in order to force companies to undertake peatland restoration [8].

The best performing environmental indicator according to the country’s Green Economy Index, is forest cover, albeit showing a slightly decreasing trend until 2018 that eventually bounced back from 2018 onwards. Indonesia’s deforestation rate hit a historic low in 2020, with the government crediting its various policies prohibiting forest clearing, falling oil palm prices, and an economic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The slowing deforestation trends are attributed to the culmination of several policies aimed at protecting the country’s forests. These include a permanent ban on issuing new permits to clear primary forests and peatlands, the moratorium on new oil palm plantation licenses, forest fire mitigation and prevention, a social forestry program, land rehabilitation, and increased law enforcement against environmental violations [8].

Although the country has made great progress in slowing deforestation and restoring degraded peatlands, Indonesia still faces challenges with regards to achieving its ambitions of the FOLU (Forestry and Other Land Use) net sink by 2030. Such challenges include cross sectoral issues, for example, emissions reduction targets in the FOLU sector often conflict with targets related to food security that requires extensive land availability; institutional constraints, especially for implementers in the regions; the continuous need for intellectual support for the development of new policies and the discovery of methodologies; siloed government natural resource management policies and programs as a result of decentralization [6], [10]; and significant financial requirements for the implementation of FOLU Net Sink 2030. For instance, forest protection to curb deforestation requires USD 7.6 billion [6].


Initiatives and Development Plans

The One Map initiative in Indonesia has the ambition of bringing together data on land use, land tenure and other spatial data into a singular incorporate database for Indonesia [11]. The One Map Policy Geoportal (KSP Geoportal) was launched by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2018. It aims to resolve overlapping claims - as well as preventing the emergence of new cases - across the country, including in forest areas. The new map is made on a scale of 1:50,000 (hence more detailed compared to the previous map which was on a 1:250,000 scale) and aims at reducing chances of disputes over the issue of permits for mining, plantation and forest conservation. This should then result in an improved investment climate for Indonesia. Therefore, "development planning will become more accurate", according to President Widodo [12].

In November 2022, Indonesia received an advance payment of $20.9 million USD for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in East Kalimantan. The funding was made possible under an Emissions Reduction Payment Agreement between the Government of Indonesia and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). As the first country in the East Asia Pacific region to receive funding through the FCPF, Indonesia is showing true leadership on the global stage [13].

In addition, Indonesia and Norway have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Partnership in Support of Indonesia's Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use. The MoU was signed by the Minister of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, Siti Nurbaya, with the Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, Espen Barth Eide, in Jakarta on 12 September 2022. The agreement reflects results-based partnerships and broader engagement on climate and forest management in Indonesia. The MoU will emphasize the direct benefits to Indonesian society and the advancement of environmental governance that is transparent, accountable, inclusive, and participatory. This collaboration will also strengthen the fight against climate change, reduce emissions from the forest sector and land use to preserve irreplaceable natural ecosystems, and achieve global climate ambitions under the Paris Agreement [14].


Goals and Ambitions

The Indonesian government has targeted restoring 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of degraded peatlands and 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of degraded mangroves by 2024, with both programs overseen by the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) [15].


[6], [8]

  • Expand financial sources, both from national and international sources, as well as from the private sector and the general public. For instance, climate mitigation in the land-based sector can be financed by the State Budget (APBN), provincial/district/city Regional Budget (APBD), central and regional government partnerships, government and private partnerships, foreign/domestic grants, public-private partnerships, as well as other legal fund resources in accordance with laws and regulations. Blended finance including a market mechanism is also potential financing, as regulated in the Presidential Regulation on Carbon Pricing.
  • Explore Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES). However, in identifying other funding sources, it is necessary to conduct a feasibility analysis regarding the potential for funding and the available funds that will be closely related to the potential for sustainability.
  • Increase the capacity of financial institutions and relevant stakeholders to access funding.
  • Indonesia should continue to mobilize international financial resources, optimizing bilateral, regional, and multilateral channels, including results-based payments for REDD+ under the Paris Agreement, grants, and other potential sources and mechanisms.  
  • Community participation in forest and land rehabilitation represents job opportunities for communities around Indonesia’s forests. Rehabilitated land and forests are expected to become a center for the production of fruit, nuts and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs). In the long-term, communities can harvest fruits and NTFPs such as pine resin, rubber, and eucalyptus from rehabilitated forests.
  • Forest rehabilitation supports food security programs in disaster-prone areas, increases community income, and increases awareness of the importance of planting trees.
  • Improve the conservation and rehabilitation of watersheds, critical lands, protected forests, and production forests.
  • Improve law enforcement to ensure companies undertake peatland restoration.
  • Continue to mobilize international support for capacity building under the Paris Agreement and forest-related conventions.
  • Increase the role of endogenous technology and seek opportunities for technological cooperation within the framework of technology development and transfer, as a manifestation of the Paris Agreement.
  • Ensure coherence of central and regional natural resource management policies.
  • Strengthen research collaboration between domestic and national institutions and international partners.
  • Cooperate with academia for the development of new science-based policies and the discovery of methodologies.
  • Organize intensive fieldwork, taking into account the existence of stakeholders with their respective local wisdom, and the diversity Indonesia’s geographical area.
  • Adopt spatial and remote sensing technologies as working instruments to support cooperation developed between relevant work units such as central and local governments, state and non-state actors, and to align perceptions between parties based on compatible methodologies.
  • Support internal pushes by the Government, civil society organizations, and communities for transparency around land use, particularly through the public information legislation and high-profile platforms like One Map [16].

[1] Ambarwulan, W., Nahib, I., Widiatmaka, W., Suryanta, J., Munajati, S.L., Suwarno, Y., Turmudi, T., Darmawan, M. and Sutrisno, D., (2021). Using Geographic Information Systems and the Analytical Hierarchy Process for Delineating Erosion-Induced Land Degradation in the Middle Citarum Sub-Watershed, Indonesia. Frontiers in Environmental Science9, p.710570.

[2] REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA (2015). Indonesia - Land Degradation Neutrality National Report.

[3] LSE (2022). Halting deforestation by 2030 – lessons from Indonesia? [Online]. Available:


[5] United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2022. The Global Land Outlook, second edition. UNCCD, Bonn.

[6] Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia (2022). THE STATE OF INDONESIA’S FORESTS 2022 Towards FOLU Net Sink 2030.


[8] The Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) (2022). GREEN ECONOMY INDEX: A STEP FORWARD TO MEASURE THE PROGRESS OF LOW CARBON & GREEN ECONOMY IN INDONESIA.

[9] OECD (2020), Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2020, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[10] Monica Evans, Forests News (2022). “This means it can be done”: Perspectives on the latest State of the World’s Forests report in the Indonesian context. [Online]. Available:

[11] Spatial Informatics Group (2020). THE ONE MAP INITIATIVE – A SINGLE LAND DATABASE FOR INDONESIA. [Online]. Available:

[12] Land Portal Foundation (2018). Indonesia Launches One Map Policy Geoportal to Improve Investment Climate. [Online]. Available:

[13] The Nature Conservancy (2022). Indonesia Receives Advance Payment from Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. [Online]. Available:

[14] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia (2022). Indonesia and Norway signed a New Partnership to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use. [Online]. Available:

[15] Conservation news (2022). Indonesia on track with peatland restoration, but bogged down with mangroves. [Online]. Available:

[16] Bennett, C. P. A., Ridwansyah, M., Siscawati, M., & Sommerville, M. (2019). Indonesia land tenure and property rights assessment. Washington, DC: USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance Task Order under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights II (STARR II) IDIQ.