Spanning across 153,564 km², Central Kalimantan is Indonesia’s third largest province and has 13 districts and 1 city, 129 subdistricts, 136 kelurahan, 1,344 villages and 67 Kademangan (Note: kelurahan and villages are basically two identical local levels of government, the former is used in cities, the latter is used in rural areas). The Province of Central Kalimantan became Indonesia’s fifth full member of the GCF in 2010. It occupies an area of 153,564 km with just 2.2 million people, resulting in very low population density. The capital of the Province is Palangkaraya. There are 13 local government Districts and 1500 urban and rural villages. Overall 67% of the population live in rural areas, where villages tend to be distributed along the banks of the 11 large rivers which flow from the central mountains to the Java Sea. The largest ethnic group are the indigenous Dayaks, but there are significant numbers of official and economic migrants from Java, Bali and Sulawesi in both rural and urban settlements. Poverty remains a major issue particularly in rural areas because of the difficulty and cost of transport and communication and the impact that this has on basic human services delivery. Education and health services in the hinterland are poor and this is reflected in their Human Development Index (HDI).
Despite the low population, Central Kalimantan has suffered serious and widespread environmental degradation. From 1996 to 1999 it was the sight of the so-called mega rice project which impacted one million hectares of peat swamp forests which were cleared and 4000 km of canals constructed. The continuing legacy of this period has been the draining of the peats in the dry season leading to high emissions of GHG’s through oxidation and through annual dry season fires. Central Kalimantan has about 3 million hectares of Peat soils, equaling West, East and South Kalimantan combined. The extent of the impact of the clearing of the swamp forests for agriculture and estate crops can be appreciated from the forest figures which show only 865,000 hectares of remaining swamp forest compared to 1.4 million hectares of secondary forest and a further 1.1 million hectares of degraded shrubland. Of the original area of peat, 80% is subject to the danger of seasonal fire or oxidation. Restoration of the damaged peat ecosystems is a high priority of the Provincial Government and is also identified as a priority through Presidential Instruction.
Management of the remaining forests in Central Kalimantan is subject to continuing discussion and planning. 12.6 million hectares remains within the national forest estate with a further 2.8 million in other land use categories. Negotiations are continuing to firm up the zoning of the forest land, but proposed changes have greatly increased the proportion within the Protection Forest category where its role in hydrologic regulation and reduced soil carbon emissions is regarded as critical. Central Kalimantan has been pursuing a low carbon development strategy in line with national policies. In 2010, Central Kalimantan was chosen to serve as a pilot Province for REDD+ development following the LOI between Norway and Indonesia. In 2005 it established a “green” policy framework which evolved in 2010 to a vision of Central Kalimantan as a “Green and Clean Province”. The province is the site for the Australia-Indonesia Forest Carbon Partnership REDD+ Demonstration Project which aims to reduce emissions on 135 000 hectares of degraded peatlands. It also hosts a number of other private investment REDD+ Projects and is a participant in the Heart of Borneo trans-boundary conservation project.