This article is originally published on Koran Tempo.

Civet coffee or Kopi Luwak in Indonesian, a premium coffee commodity, finally finds a rival that is no less exotic, Toratima coffee. Toratima coffee is planted near Lore Lindu National Park in Sigi District, Central Sulawesi. Toratima is the Kulawi language, spoken in Sigi and Donggala districts, which means to be collected (from the ground). Toratima coffee beans are collected by farmers after being spewed by endoclastic nocturnal mammals, Sulawesi dwarf cuscus (Stigocucus celebensis). The animal chewed the best cherries from every coffee fruit bunch, swallowed the skin of the fruit, and threw away the peeled coffee beans to the ground.

Toratima coffee grow in coffee plantations owned by the local communities around the conservation area of ​​Lore Lindu National Park. The coffee plants yield fruits thanks to pollination by the bees that inhabit the forest area. Based on a research by Priess (2007), the environmental service generated by biodiversity in Lore Lindu conservation forest, in the form of bee pollination in coffee plantation, is equivalent to 46 Euro or approximately 740,000 Indonesian rupiahs (IDR) per hectare of forest per year. This kind of environmental service can be found throughout the archipelago in various forms.

The Minister of Environment Regulation No. 15/2012 on the Guide for Forest Ecosystem Economic Valuation provides an equitable environmental services valuation, in terms of biodiversity, for all forests in Indonesia, which amount to 9.45 USD or approximately 127,000 IDR per hectare of forest. The decision to put the same valuations for all forests in Indonesia is not in line with the fact that biodiversity-based environmental services come in various forms and are of high value.

The same regulation also states that the environmental services’ value in all forest areas for water supply is 37.97 USD or equivalent to 512,000 IDR per hectare per year. However, Van Beukering’s (2003) research suggested that environmental services for water supply in the conservation forest areas in Gunung Leuser National Park reach 76 USD or approximately one million IDR per hectare per year.

In the same research, Van Beukering (2003) also revealed that in the period of 2000-2030, the economic benefits of Gunung Leuser National Park for three scenarios, including deforestation, forest conservation and selective use of forests, are 6,958, 9,538 and 9,100 million USD respectively. This indicates that in a conservation scenario, ​​Gunung Leuser National Park, whose size reaches 792.7 thousand hectares, has environmental services that worth approximately 400 USD per hectare per year. This figure is almost four times higher than the valuation of total environmental services of forest specified in the Minister of Environment Regulation No. 15/2012, which amount to 106 USD.

With the regulation that determines low valuation of environmental services of forest, it is not surprising that we find many efforts to convert forest area for maximum cultivated uses. According to the Law No. 41/1999 on Forestry, the minimum forest area that must be maintained in Indonesia is 30 percent, or about 36.2 million hectares. In reality, forests clearing for cultivation purposes should consider the actual value of the environmental services.

The high environmental services value should and has to be a strong consideration in implementing environmental-based funding schemes through the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), an initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and increasing carbon stocks. Indonesia is one country that has consistently and strongly encouraged REDD+ schemes to mitigate climate change.

The good news is that this November, President Joko Widodo published the Government Regulation No. 46/2017 on Environmental Economic Instruments, mandating the implementation of economic calculations of natural resources and the environment. This regulation certainly reflects a significant shift in how we view how important environmental services are. It is expected that in the next two years, with the economic calculation, Indonesia will have a more solid and comprehensive valuation of environmental services.

Such solid and comprehensive valuation of environmental services can only be obtained through research, as exemplified in research in Lore Lindu National Park and Gunung Leuser National Park. As research capacity to measure environmental services strengthens, we can more accurately assess the actual value of our natural and environmental assets. In achieving this objective, the government needs to lead the valuation of environmental services and coordinate collaborations involving researchers from all research institutes in Indonesia.

By understanding and appreciating environmental services provided by forest – that allow bees to carry out their natural role in pollinating coffee plantations around Lore Lindu, Wamena, Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat forest areas – we can continuously support community welfare, especially those who rely their living on the existence of the forest area. Such appreciation will also ensure that we can still enjoy Toratima coffee, Blue Korintji coffee, Mandailing coffee, civet coffee, and other Indonesian exotic coffee.