Indonesia opens protected rainforests to mining and other developments

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
March 16, 2010



Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has issued new regulations, which will allow underground mining in protected areas, according to the Jakarta Post. The new rules will also allow power plants, renewable energy, and transportation such as toll roads in protected forests.

"We are now waiting for a presidential decree to bring the regulations into force. A number of firms have applied for mining permits in protected forest areas," a senior official at the Forestry Ministry, Bambang Mulyo, told the Jakarta Post Monday.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan defended the move, saying that strict environmental regulations will apply to the mines.


Deforestation of peatland forest in Indonesian Boreno. Photo by Rhett A Butler.
"The regulation will only allow mining activities to operate under the forest areas. So this is not for open mining and hopefully will only bring a minimum impact to the ecosystem in protected forests," he said as reported by the Jakarta Post.

"Because of the lack of regulations, most of the areas were being exploited without considering reforestation," Hasan added. "In addition, they will be obliged to pay taxes for operating mines under the protected forest."

The move is being made in part to attract more mining investment through clarifying regulations, cutting red tape, and allowing mining in numerous areas long off-limits.

Indonesia loses more than a million hectares of forest every year to logging for timber and plantations such as oil palm and pulp, as well as fires. Largely because of this widespread deforestation, Indonesia is number three in carbon emissions after China and the United States.

Recently the Indonesian government stated that it would reduce greenhouse gas emission by 26 percent in a decade. It has said that 14 percent of this would be related to deforestation. The government also plants to plant a billion trees on degraded lands.

Covering over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is home to a large number of well-known endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, both the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan, the Sundaland clouded leopard, the wild cattle anoa, the Asian elephant, as well as both the Sumatran and Javan rhino. Many of these species last strongholds are in the nation's protected forests.

Recently a government official estimated that only half of Indonesia's species are known.

In all, scientists have currently catalogued over 30,000 species of plants and over 3,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians in Indonesia. Its number of recorded mammals—515—is second only to Brazil.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (March 16, 2010).

Indonesia opens protected rainforests to mining and other developments.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0316-hance_indonesia_mining.html