They found that carbon trading through a REDD programme could match or even exceed the earnings from other land uses such as oil palm plantations and logging. This valuation didn’t even take into account the value of environmental services provided by the forests or the economic losses that would be incurred if the forests are damaged.
These environmental services include:
Water from the Batang Toru forests is vital for the people of the 3 Tapanuli districts, especially for their plantations and wet rice cultivation, and their daily household needs. Extensive paddy fields in the Sarulla valley and other areas receive their irrigations from the Batang Toru forests. Mixed rubber agro-forestry gardens that are the mainstay of local people’s economy all depend on rainfall from these forests. Similarly, the Sipansihaporas hydro-electricity plant and the Aek Raisan micro-hydro plants are completely dependent on water from these forests.
Stable forested watershed ecosystems will also be vital for the proposed 300 MW Geothermal Electricity Plant planned in Sarulla valley between the east and west forest blocks.
The gold mine currently operating in the Batang Toru sub-district in South Tapanuli also need water from the west Batang Toru forests, and the downstream coastal plain is covered by oil palm plantations also dependent on the hydrology of the river.