Monitoring involves assessing the effects of land based activities and checking that laws and regulations that protect the environment and communities are adhered to and are enforced. It includes checking that land use permits are issued legally and that government license revenue is collected efficiently and distributed equitably. Improving environmental monitoring by means such as increased participation and public access to information are effective ways to use existing systems to support good governance and reduce the incidence of violations of environmental laws and regulations.
SETAPAK partners have been advocating for more effective government monitoring and oversight of land use decisions and illegalities, including the issuing of district level permits, and have been actively participating in, and strengthening, official monitoring efforts by working with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4).
To improve law enforcement in forestry, Silvagama has developed a tool to report violations of forest and land use to the KPK. This initiative, called ‘Indonesia Monitors the Forest’ (Indonesia Memantau Hutan) is a collaboration with the KPK, and is intended to check and evaluate permits issued at provincial and district levels. Moderators compile and verify spatial data, which is then fed into the KPK’s database. The KPK’s initiative to supervise the legality of mining permits is recognized as one of the most promising efforts towards government accountability in the land use sector.
SETAPAK partners have also been strengthening demand for enforcement by civil society through initiatives to monitor the implementation of land use permits and forest management policies, and report problems on land use and deforestation issues. The Indonesian Centre for Environmental Law (ICEL), for example, has developed a tool for field investigators to use to check land use permit compliance and has helped train investigators from all the SETAPAK regions.
Other initiatives have extended beyond the issuing of illegal permits, which allow mining or plantations concessions to overlap or impinge on protected conservation areas, to investigating violations in commercial operating procedures, assessing state losses from the extractive industries, developing guidelines for reporting money laundering in the forestry sector, monitoring access to information, and the burning of peatlands.
Eyes in the sky
SETAPAK has been supporting the use of remote controlled aircraft, called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to monitor land use and forest infractions. UAVs, which have video equipment installed that captures detailed images of land areas over ranges of up to 25 kilometres, are increasingly used for conservation purposes, as they allow large and inaccessible areas to be surveyed. SETAPAK partner SAMPAN has been developing skills in assembling UAVs, and in June 2014 supported WALHI South Sumatra to survey extensive fires in Sumatra’s Riau province. The flights revealed 80 cases of peatlands burning on concession areas, and the findings will be used to demand that the provincial government improves its monitoring and responses to peatland fires.