The government is set to issue a regulation that will facilitate a carbon offset mechanism in the forestry and other land-use sectors, in a move that is expected to speed up the country’s rehabilitation of degraded land ecosystems, including mangrove areas.

The regulation, which is set to be issued by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, will be issued as a derivative regulation of the recently signed carbon pricing rule that forms the basis of Indonesia’s carbon pricing scheme, said Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) head Hartono Prawiraatmadja.

“The ministerial regulation is designed as a legal basis for forest and land rehabilitation using the carbon pricing scheme,” Hartono said.

He added that setting the carbon price would be crucial to determine how much degraded forest area emitting corporations must restore as part of the carbon offset mechanism.

Hartono said the regulation was set to be issued in March, adding it was hoped the regulation would help accelerate the rehabilitation of degraded mangrove forests in the country.

Mangrove forests, which usually grow in intertidal areas in tropical and subtropical countries, play a vital role in providing a natural buffer against coastal erosion caused by the sea or winds.

Mangroves have also been identified as a key asset in the country’s efforts to achieve its emissions reduction target, as they can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit, a feature known as a carbon sink.

In its updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) document, Indonesia aims to reduce carbon emissions by 29 per cent independently and 41 per cent with international assistance. Indonesia aims to restore at least 600,000ha of degraded mangrove forests by 2024.

As part of efforts to accelerate the restoration, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo renewed the mandate of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) in December 2020 for four years and expanded its role to include mangrove restoration.

From the 2024 target, the government was expected to finance the restoration of up to 150,000ha of mangrove area, while about a third of the target, or 200,000ha, was expected to be financed through the carbon offset mechanism, said Hartono.

After it had to refocus its budget last year because of the pandemic, the agency was able to restore more than 34,000ha of damaged mangrove areas, which was lower than its initial target of 80,000ha.

Hartono said the agency aimed to restore around 200,000ha of degraded mangrove areas this year, which includes the 50,000ha target that was carried over from 2021.

According to the latest national mangrove map, Indonesia currently has 3.36 million hectares of mangrove forests, an increase from 3.31 million ha in 2019.