Geospatial technology helps forests audit in Indonesia

Geospatial technology helps forests audit in Indonesia


Dr. Ali Masykur Musa
Board Member
Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK)

Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world. However, the country is facing an increasing deforestation rate driven by human activities. Dr. Ali Masykur Musa, Board Member of Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK), talks to Geospatial World on how geospatial technology helps in forests and other natural resources audits in Indonesia.


How does a Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) like BPK use geospatial technology as part of its workflow?

SAI uses geospatial technology in all phases of the audit. Geospatial technology is used to plan the audit, and to identify areas that have potential environmental problems or potential risks to be chosen as sample areas. Geospatial can also be used to collect data and information for audit evidence and to formulate audit conclusion and audit report. The technology is used in many ways such as location and mapping, map analysis and satellite imageries interpretation. SAIs including SAI of Indonesia (BPK) have already utilised GIS as a tool in our audit.

Which national agencies do you collaborate with for location/geospatial information?

BPK collaborates with several Departments related to geospatial technology such as the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) and the Ministry of Forestry to get geospatial data/information. In addition to being the source of geospatial data/information, BPK also cooperates with those entities for training courses conducted by their experts. The collaboration and cooperation were done in accordance with BPK’s auditing standards.

Why is the guidance paper on the use of geospatial information in audit of forests necessary?

The main objective of the guidance paper is to assist auditors in conducting forestry audit. It also provides information that can be used as reference material including the information related to the use of GIS and GPS in audit. The guidance also provides information such as case study and examples of SAI’s experiences in conducting audit including the usage of GIS and GPS.  The information about how to use GIS and GPS is provided in the guidance in order to inform the auditor that technology such as geospatial technology can be utilised as a tool in audit. Based on BPK’s experience, the use of geospatial technology has added value to the audit. It makes audit more efficient, economical and effective.

Apart from forestry, has BPK used geospatial technology in other sectors?

BPK has been using geospatial technology not only for forestry audit, but also for other natural resource auditing such as mining, natural gas, coral reef, infrastructure and disaster. As an example, in 2008, BPK employed geospatial technology to track tsunami relief fund in order to ensure it was aligned with the level of damaged caused by the disaster.

SAI needs geospatial technology in auditing natural resources because geospatial technology can help the auditor to design audit planning, implement audit methodology and also improve audit report quality. It also helps auditor in the audit field work. Geospatial technology helps auditors reach the sample location as planned. The main objectives of using geospatial in the audit are mainly for observing and pointing out the location and area.

However, the usage of geospatial technology such as GIS cannot be a stand-alone audit procedure in response to specific audit inquiries. It should be supported by other kinds of audit procedures such as ground checking or field visit to verify the output of geospatial technology.

What are the future areas of application of geospatial technology that you foresee for the audit industry?       

In the future, we hope to use geospatial technology in financial related audit, for example to calculate land and building taxes, trace the money transfer from one party to another, locate money laundering activities, measure the balance between cost and benefit from natural resources exploitations, and draw demographic location in certain area. Geospatial can also be used to help SAI manage human resources movement and activities.

Do you think the geospatial industry is equipped or matured enough to cater to the needs of audit bodies like BPK?

In my opinion, geospatial technology is very important, especially for SAI of Indonesia, because we have huge area of both land and water. By using geospatial technology, SAI can help the government to maintain the environment and natural resources by conducting environmental audit.

Having said that, the main objective of geospatial technology is not in audit area. It is formulated mainly for other than audit purposes. The usage of geospatial technology in audit will follow the capacity and maturity of the technology. Up to this point, geospatial technology is sufficient to answer our audit objective or audit question. However, there is a need for the auditor to learn more from geospatial technology expert on how to optimise the use of this technology in audit. For that purpose, hopefully in the future, BPK can exchange experiences and knowledge in using geospatial technology in audit with other SAIs in order to optimise the usage of this technology.