Wednesday, May 20, 2015


     Jakarta, May 20,2015 (Antara) -- President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has extended the moratorium on granting new concessions over forest and peatland areas by two years, after it expired on May 13.
        The news about the extension of the moratorium was released by the Cabinet Secretariat after President Jokowi received Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya at the State Palace in Jakarta recently.          
   Indonesia's forests, which is the third largest in the world after those in Brazil and Congo, holds some of the world's most diverse ecosystems---from endangered orangutans and rhinos to Rafflesias, the biggest flowers on earth.
        The extended moratorium on forest clearance is crucial to help realize the country's commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Indonesia by 26 percent by 2020 and by 40 percent with international support.    

   Indonesia issued presidential instruction number 10 /2011 on the moratorium on granting new licenses to clear forests in primary natural forest and peatland areas for the first time in May 2011.

        On May 13, 2013, the then president Yudhoyono extended this moratorium by signing presidential instruction number 6/2013, which added another two years to the moratorium on forest clearance. It was expected to protect more than 43 million hectares of primary forest and peatland areas.
        The moratorium on forest clearance has been extended for the second time with the signing of the presidential instruction by President Jokowi in May this year.  
   However, discussions on the measures and implementation of the moratorium regulation are still ongoing, particularly on suggestions conveyed by NGOs to strengthen the moratorium measures.
        Relevant ministries will discuss the proposals at length, along with the institutions that framed them, according to the ministry's spokesman, Eka W. Soegiri.
        "The proposals, which were sent by Walhi, Kemitraan, Sawit Watch, and WRI, among others, to strengthen (the implementation of the presidential instruction on the moratorium) are worthy of respect. The Forestry and Environmental Affairs Ministry will compile them for a follow up," he affirmed.
       Commenting on the extension of the moratorium, Greenpeace Southeast Asia had criticized the government earlier for failing to pay heed to the bipartisan calls from civil societies and progressive industries to strengthen the measures to fully protect forests and peatlands.
         "President Joko Widodo has failed to listen to public demands to protect our remaining forests and peatlands. Even though Forestry and Environmental Affairs Minister Siti Nurbaya issued a statement today and left the door open to strengthen the regulation on the moratorium on forest clearance in the future, the problem is that she did not present any timeline. While the government prevaricates, our biodiversity dwindles and our international emissions reductions obligations go unmet. Strengthening measures to protect forests is an urgent requirement," a Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner for forests, Teguh Surya, said in a press statement on May 13.
       The environmental NGO claimed that the renewal came after Greenpeace conveyed the voices of more than 12,000 concerned Indonesians calling for a strengthened moratorium ahead of the May 13 expiry of the presidential instruction.
        "It is understood that the 'copy-paste' moratorium signed today has left at least 48.5 million hectares of forests---more than three times the area of Java---under threat, including 16.5 million hectares of primary forest lands and peatlands," he pointed out.
         The remaining 32 million hectares is under threat because those are natural forests classified as 'secondary forests' that the current moratorium excludes. These forests can be disturbed by selective logging, for example. They are an important storehouse of carbon and a habitat for endangered wildlife species, the statement added. 
   Much of the country's remaining forest habitat for orangutans, for instance, is classified as 'secondary forest.'
    Moreover, international eyes are on the country's new president to see what concrete steps he takes ahead of the Paris climate talks later this year, Greenpeace noted.
         In addition, a lawmaker has suggested that the government rehabilitate deforested and arid areas, besides extending the moratorium.
         "Apart from issuing a moratorium on deforestation, it would be better if damaged forests were also rehabilitated throughout the country," Andi Akmal Pasluddin of the Prosperous Justice Party said recently.
         He called on the Forestry and Environmental Affairs Ministry to intensify a nationwide campaign on reforestation and rehabilitation of arid lands.
         Due to deforestation, some 104.2 million hectares of land are in terrible conditions, he said.    
    Indonesia's tropical rainforests covering some 120 million hectares, or 62 percent of the total land surface, has a total carbon storage capacity of 60 gigatons (billion tons).  
    Furthermore, the renewed moratorium is good news for global efforts to combat climate change.
         The moratorium policy is aimed at creating time to improve forest and peatland management as a manifestation of a low carbon emission development strategy.
        Therefore, several experts have suggested that the moratorium be seen as an opportunity to begin taking steps towards good governance.

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