Indonesia officially extends forestry moratorium

Rhett Butler, mongabay.com
May 15, 2013



The Indonesian government has officially extended its moratorium [English translation] on new logging and plantation concessions in 65 million hectares of forests and peatlands for another two years. The move, which had been expected, was announced Wednesday by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The moratorium is the centerpiece of the Indonesian government's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the vast majority of which result from deforestation and degradation of carbon-dense peatlands. The moratorium was signed after Norway pledged a billion dollars toward Indonesia's deforestation-reduction plan. Norway's largesse is contingent on Indonesia's success in reducing forest loss.



The moratorium, which put some 14.5 million hectares of previously unprotected forests off-limits to conversion, was fiercely opposed by interests in the forestry sector, especially Indonesia's powerful palm oil industry. Lobbying by plantation and logging companies led to the moratorium being heavily watered down from what was originally envisioned by Norway. The moratorium includes significant carve-outs for mining and agroindustrial projects. It also exempts concessions granted prior to May 2011, when the moratorium went into effect.

Nonetheless, the moratorium represents an important development in efforts to protect Indonesia's forests which have in recent decades suffered from large-scale conversion for oil palm estates, timber plantations, and industrial agriculture. The country lost nearly half of its forest cover since 1950.

Chart: Indonesia's forest moratorium
Chart: Indonesia's forest moratorium. Background satellite image courtesy of Microsoft Bing Maps, design by mongabay.com. Click image to enlarge.

The moratorium aims to create a window for enacting reforms needed to improve governance in the forestry sector, which is racked by corruption, mismanagement, and overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions. To facilitate reform, President Yudhoyono is pushing for the establishment of a REDD+ agency that will have broad powers over various ministries involved in forest management. The agency was supposed to launch last year, but has been delayed by bureaucratic battles.



















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CITATION:
Rhett Butler, mongabay.com (May 15, 2013).

Indonesia officially extends forestry moratorium.

http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0514-indonesia-renews-moratorium.html