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Riau forum asks Jokowi to help business save forests

A sustainable-business forum in Indonesia’s Riau province urged the government to support companies’ zero-deforestation commitments, which remain hampered by policies that prevent firms from preserving forests in their concessions.

Under the current legal regime, if a plantation company decides to set aside land for conservation, the government reserves the right to take it back and give it to a firm that will develop it.

“For example, if a company decides not to plant palm oil trees in 10 percent of its 10,000 hectares of permitted land to reduce carbon, then the 10 percent will be taken back by the government because it considers it abandoned land,” Tiur Rumondang of the Indonesian Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD) told the Jakarta Post.

“The government should minimize all regulations that could hamper zero-deforestation commitments,” she added.

Last week at the Tropical Landscapes Summit in Jakarta, executives from palm oil giants Cargill, Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) also called on Indonesia to change regulations that hinder the companies’ attempts to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains.

GAR subsidiary in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province faces that very prospect, where a tract it designated as high-carbon stock “is being considered by the regent to be taken from us because we are not going to turn it into a plantation,” Agus Purnomo, the company’s director, said on a panel at the summit.

The Riau forum, attended by local officials, NGO representatives and businesspeople, also asked Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to accelerate spatial planning across the archipelago and come with a precise definition of deforestation.


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