While world leaders are yet to agree on much-discussed forestry carbon credits, KeeptheHabitat, an Australian non-profit company, will launch a pilot project to promote the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) on Friday.
"There is a lot of talk (on forest carbon) but not much action. We have to do something before the official REDD scheme starts," the KeeptheHabitat chairman Nigel D. Turvey told The Jakarta Post earlier this week.
"What we can do now is to help the business community to put their money into protecting forests."
Under the KeeptheHabitat scheme, companies wanting to fulfill corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs can invest their money in forest protection.
"In return, the company will have a say on the carbon issue. It can put in its annual report, or CSR component, details on total carbon saved," he said.
Turvey said many companies operating in Indonesia did not know the amount of carbon they released during their normal business operations.
KeeptheHabitat and its local partners, including advisor Wimar Witoelar, are developing their first project in Mamuju, South Sulawesi, on a 30,000-hectare forest belonging to state forestry company PT Perhutani I.
"We estimate that by protecting the Mamuju forest we will conserve 333,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year," Turvey said.
Since Indonesia has yet to regulate carbon trading in the forestry sector, KeeptheHabitat will apply to the voluntary market to trade carbon credit certificates.
Turvey said the price of forestry carbon credits in the voluntary market could reach US$18 per ton.
Carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming, conributing to increasing sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather changes. Protecting forests or planting trees will significantly help prevent carbon from being released into the atmosphere.
Indonesia is the world's third largest forest nation with about 120 million hectares of forest.
Turvey said KeeptheHabitat would use satellite images to monitor and report on habitat protection and rehabilitation of forest areas.
"We will protect virgin forests and their habitat. Sponsors can monitor our project by accessing our satellite images."
He said the organization would also bring experts from Australia with the ability to calculate the carbon in trees or protected forests.
"In the case of Mamuju, it has been an active forest concession. Perhutani knows how many trees are to be cut down, their size and the volume of wood as well as the carbon calculation. The calculation will be accurate," he said.
Turvey said the project would also help improve community welfare through the building of schools and roads.
"About 50 percent of sponsorship funds would be distributed for habitat rehabilitation, community projects, monitoring and audit," he said.