East Kalimantan Province has jurisdiction over a land area of 200 000 km² and a marine environment of 10 000 km². It is second largest province in Indonesia but like Papua, it is sparsely populated with 3.5 million people of whom about half live in rural villages. It is rich in natural resources with oil and natural gas, coal and gold which linked to its forest resources, estate crops and fishing give it the second highest GDP behind Jakarta DKI. The capital of East Kalimantan is Samarinda on the Mahakam River, while Balikpapan to the south and Tarakan in the far north are also large cities. With greater infrastructure and communication and transport corridors along the main rivers, service delivery has been much easier than in many other part of the country and literacy and levels of poverty are much more in line with a province which has benefited from the exploitation of its natural resources.
Nevertheless, the province has many challenges with issues in energy generation and the supply of water to its urban centers. One consequence of this has been a significant focus on alternative sources of sustainable resource use. East Kalimantan has been one of the target provinces to benefit from the President’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and as a result has developed its own low carbon use economic strategy. Reduction in carbon emissions through forest land conversion has figured prominently and is the reason for the Province to be a leading member of the Indonesian GCF program.
Forests continue to cover about 14.6 million ha out of an estimated original forest cover of 17.1 million ha. Of that remaining 5 million ha are under conservation or protected status, including large and important national parks such as Kutai. While it appears that most converted forests within the national estate has already been incorporated in non- forest uses, the largest challenge facing the province is to contain forest degradation driven by encroachment and illegal logging and conflict over other resources such as illegal gold mining. The forests are essentially closed tropical humid forest with elevation, soils and rainfall, significant factors in determining variation in forest structure and species composition. East Kalimantan has extensive areas of delta (Mahakam River) with mangrove, Nipa and pandanus forests. Lateritic mid slope forests offer the highest proliferation of high value dipterocarp forest with some 267 species recognised. Limestone ridges and high mountains offer a range of forest communities of lower structure and high endemic diversity.
East Kalimantan is hosting several large REDD demonstration projects managed by international NGO’s and donors. However, there is still much to be done before these projects achieve the capacity to trade. The projects receive tacit and professional support from government and East Kalimantan institutions but further work is required to integrate them within official government climate mitigation measures.