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Local leaders in Indonesia make forest and peatland protection pledge

Deforestation in Indonesian Borneo in 2019. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler

Deforestation in Indonesian Borneo in 2019. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler

  • Nine districts across three islands in Indonesia have pledged to protect 50% of their forests, peatlands and other “important ecosystems” by 2030.
  • The pledge encompasses a total of 5.8 million hectares (14.3 million acres) of forest and 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of peat — a total area the size of South Carolina.
  • The declaration mirrors the 2018 Manokwari Declaration by the governors of Papua and West Papua provinces, who pledged to protect 70% of the forestland in those two provinces.

PALEMBANG, Indonesia — Nine districts in Indonesia have pledged to protect 50% of forests, peatlands and other “important ecosystems” in their jurisdictions by 2030, local leaders announced last week.

Spread across three islands and six provinces, the districts of Siak, Musi Banyuasin, Sintang, Sigi, Gorontalo, Bone Bolango, Aceh Tamiang, Sanggau and Kapuas Hulu are members of the Sustainable Districts Association, formed in 2017.

The pledge encompasses a total of 5.8 million hectares (14.3 million acres) of forest and 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of peat — a total area the size of South Carolina.

“We district leaders in Indonesia affirm our commitment to implementing sustainable development at the district level, in order to support the national priority agenda of the Republic of Indonesia toward sustainable development,” Dodi Reza Alex Noerdin, the elected leader of Musi Banyuasin and outgoing general chair of the Sustainable Districts Association, said at a July 7 meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and various development and civil society organizations and private companies.

After the 1998 fall of the dictator Suharto, broad powers over land-use planning and licensing were devolved from Jakarta to the nation’s districts, giving them considerable sway over the fate of the nation’s rainforests and peatlands, among the most extensive in the world. In recent years, however, some of those powers have been transferred back to the provincial and central government levels.

Last week’s declaration, called the “Declaration of a Vision for Sustainable Districts 2030,” follows the 2018 Manokwari Declaration by the governors of Papua and West Papua provinces, who pledged to protect 70% of the forestland in those two provinces.

Banner: Deforestation in Indonesian Borneo in 2019. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.

This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and first published here on our Indonesian site on July 14, 2021.

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