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Indonesia delays logging moratorium

Forest clearing in Central Kalimantan

Bureaucratic confusion has led Indonesia to delay implementation of its two-year moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in forest areas and peatlands, reports the Jakarta Globe.

The moratorium, which was agreed last May under Norway’s billion dollar forest conservation pact with Indonesia, was scheduled to begin January 1. It is now unclear when the forest conversion ban would be enacted.

The hold up is apparently due to confusion over which of two presidential decrees on the moratorium to enact. One was submitted by the Ministry of Forestry, the other was drafted by the national REDD+ Task Force. The latter draft is more explicit in laying out which permits will no longer be issued, according to the Jakarta Globe, which reviewed both documents.

The REDD+ Task Force draft specifically suspends the granting of any new logging, plantations, and mining permits on primary and secondary forest lands. The Ministry of Forestry version states the moratorium applies to “new conversion permits for primary forests and peatland for two years, starting Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2012.”

Until the decree is signed, the moratorium is not legally binding.

The proposed moratorium has proved controversial in Indonesia, which recently surpassed Brazil as the top deforester in the tropics. While many civil society organizations and environmental groups support the effort to protect Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands, some logging and plantation companies oppose restrictions on forest conversion. Accordingly, the last few months have seen strong lobbying from both sides.

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