Fighting for ecological justice

The Exploration for New-Renewable Energy Should Not Create New Deforestation

The government claims that energy wood plantation is a solution for the new energy source. However, Yuyun Indradi, a member of Kaoem Telapak, has a critical thought about it.

Yuyun Indradi, usually called Yuyun, was born in Solo. He completed his undergraduate education at the Faculty of Forestry, Gajah Mada University. The first time he met Kaoem Telapak was in 2003. At that time, Kaoem Telapak was still called Telapak. At the same time, he worked with the National Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN) to documenting ancestral forest management in five regions.

As it turned out, one of the AMAN executives is a member of Kaoem Telapak. After many discussions with him, he realizes he has the same vision, mission and values as Kaoem Telapak. Then Yuyun decided to join Kaoem Telapak in 2006.

In 2017, Yuyun began to monitor energy issues which in their development are also related to forest governance. Currently, the government is intensively looking for new and renewable energy, one of which is by providing biomass as a mixed ingredient in the coal-burning process at PLTU. This hybrid combustion is known as co-firing.

To provide this biomass, the government introduced the Energy Wood Forest (HTE) program. “Almost the same as Industrial Plantation Forest, only different in purpose. If the industrial plantation forest aims to produce products, the energy plantation forest aims to produce energy,” said Yuyun. He also added if the HTE is widespread, what will happen is new deforestation and land conversion.

In the middle of 2022, Indra and his colleagues at Trend Asia launched a report highlighting a PLN initiation project that wants to implement co-firing in 52 PLTUs. “To meet the needs of 52 PLTUs, 10 million tons of wood pellets are needed. If you follow the Ministry of Environment and Forestry formula, to get the 10 million tons, you need two million hectares of land,” said Yuyun.

Then, Yuyun explained that in the HTE scheme, one plant species that met several criteria, like the speed of growth, wood calories, and productivity per hectare, will be the main plant in the plantation. He also reminded us that when forest monoculture occurs, biodiversity will be lost. He also added the possibility of tenurial conflicts with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. “HTE will be a fake solution because it can have a more damaging impact. Other emissions will increase,” he said.

To fight against this fake solution, Yuyun and his colleagues conducted public education, both to the public and media representatives. According to Yuyun, the response received was quite diverse. Some just found out. Some had doubts. “Pros and cons are common,” he said.

The branding of co-firing biomass as the renewal energy is a challenge. Yuyun must dismantle these perceptions with facts and scientific calculations.

Therefore, Yuyun put his hope in the community in responding to information. “I hope that people will be more critical, smarter, not to take all the information about biomass as renewable energy promoted by the government because it could be a false solution to the current climate crisis, which will only benefit a few people,” he said.

Yuyun Indradi, member of Kaoem Telapak