Rainforest in Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Indonesia should extend its two-year moratorium on new concessions in some 64.8 million hectares of forests and peatlands until its next presidential election in 2014, said the country’s top forest official.
Speaking Wednesday, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the moratorium should continue beyond May 2013, when it is currently scheduled to end. He added that he believed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would support an extension given that the moratorium has a central role in his plan to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent from a projected 2020 baseline. Deforestation and forest degradation account for more than three-quarters of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, but sectors that drive the bulk of those emissions generate less than six percent of GDP.
Indonesia’s moratorium was spurred by a billion dollar pledge from Norway in 2010. Under the terms of the agreement, Norway would provide Indonesia money for documented reductions in deforestation. To date Norway has only distributed about $30 million dollars under the pact, while Indonesia hasn’t yet provided reliable data on deforestation for 2011 or 2012. However, observers note that reforming Indonesia’s forestry sector is plagued with challenges, including overlapping and conflicting levels of governance and regulation, corruption, poor data about current land use, lack of land tenure for many communities, and powerful vested interests.
Zulkifli’s announcement came at the same time the Ministry of Forestry announced the latest revision of the indicative map that underpins the moratorium. The map is updated every six months with new information based on on-the-ground assessment and “harmonizing” central government maps with local government maps. The new revision reduced the overall moratorium area by 485,655 hectares, or just under 1 percent. The moratorium extended new protection on a temporary basis to about 14.5 million hectares or forest and peatlands when it was signed in May 2011.
Zulkifli’s call for an extension is not popular in all circles. The Jakarta Globe reports that Romahurmuzy, the head of the House of Representatives forestry and agriculture commission, is calling for the moratorium’s expiration on its original end date.
“It’s not worth it,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the country should focus on expanding its oil palm plantations.
However Greenpeace welcomed the Forestry Minister’s remarks and called for a strengthening of the moratorium.
“In order to achieve the objectives it was designed for, the moratorium needs to be strengthened very quickly by including a review of all existing forest clearance licenses, and the protection of all peatland and secondary forest areas,” Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, said in a statement.