With the industrial sized volume of reports and claims made by the NGO communities, for researchers, academics and policy officials it is increasingly hard to follow what is credible research and what is hyperbole opinion as stated in recent court documents by lawyers for Greenpeace.
NGO produced reports seldom undergo academic rigour and examination. And complex scientific issues such as what is peat land, or peat swamp is as confusing for the public as it is for experts. Indonesia is no exception.
Examining the November 2015 Deltares report, regularly quoted by a wide variety of political inspired NGOs, claims made by the European Environmental Paper Network (EPN) or even the BRG is not passing the scientific litmus test.
Another example is the much abused reference to LiDAR, which is regularly quoted as a method. Unfortunately the limitations of accuracy is not. LiDAR represent 30-year old technology posing the question how accurate is the Indonesian BRG data in use?
More concerning are the lack of academic rigour of studies in use by Indonesian officials. Highly complex and full of technical jargon the Deltares, Ministry of Forestry and the Peatland Agency reports are less forthcoming if the reports were peer-reviewed.
Examining the documents and reading the large body of reports suggests both Deltares and EPN as well as documents in use by the BRG are plagiarized the original 2007 reports (to view here) which present a very different finding. If not plagiarized than poor research is one of the causes of questionable claims made muddling the science.
The original research shows insignificant impacts on forest landscape in Riau and the data is in line with overall policy directives. However, the 2015 US and Norwegian funded publication portrays a different picture. The narratives display a cognitive bias and somehow adopting a 150-year forecast lacks the evidence.
The funding relationship of the 2015 November Deltares report with the Climate Land Use Alliance (CLUA) and the Norwegian government furthermore contributes to the credibility issue of the reports. It is important to point out that CLUA in Indonesia was headed by the former WWF Executive Nazir Foaed now member of the Jokowi administration. It poses the question if a conflict of interest for the official is present. It supports calls for an independent peer review of data in use by the government.
More concerning that the Deltares reports and references made since spins the 2007 studies initiated as an independent science project now claiming management practices are not sustainable. Among some of the more extravagant claims are projections of 100 and 150-years [!] impacts. The claims lack substance and scientific evidence. None of the reports appear to be peer reviewed or independently verified.
The November 2015 report was also used by a European Environmental Paper Network (EPN) targeting both APRIL and APP. Authored by Sergio Baffoni in 2017, the activists was arrested and deported in 2010 from Indonesia while working for Greenpeace. Again the report offers no credible science other than plagiarism of previous reports generated by the NGOs and officials.
The publications and allegations create a credibility issue for the assumptions made by foreign funded NGOs.