SBY: Don't cheat logging moratorium

EoF News / 02 June 2010

PEKANBARU (EoF News)-- President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called the Ministry of Forestry and provincial governments not to cheat moratorium for natural forest clearance by issuing more licenses for forest conversion within six months by January 2011.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced last week that Indonesia would stop issuing new concessions for natural forests and peatlands for two years, effectively imposing a temporary halt on deforestation.

Logging moratorium in natural forest and peatlands as part of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) deal signed by the Indonesian Government and Norway Government in Oslo last week as the latter agreed to grant $ 1 billion to help preserve the Indonesian forests. The moratorium will take place on 1 January 2011.  

President SBY early warned industries and governments not to deceive logging moratorium commitment, Kompas daily reported last weekend (30/5/2010). At a press conference in Oslo, President SBY warned the government officials not to issue many more forestry licenses in a way to cheat logging moratorium early next year.

“I don’t want that happen and I ask it must be prevented. If it happens, that turns out to be completely deceitful,” SBY told the press as quoted by Kompas daily as saying. 

SBY said that this warning had been uttered to him by his Norway counterpart Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

He asked the Coordinating Minister for Economy to prepare concept, policy and guidelines on the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation deal and socialize and consult the plan to businesspeople, NGOs and customary communities.  

Primary and peat forest

Minister of Forestry Zulkifli said Wednesday that moratorium to forest conversion would be imposed in primary forest and peatlands.

"[It] could be misunderstanding. Nobody said it was prohibited [to forest conversion],” the minister said.

Forest conversion for plantations is prohibited in two kinds of forest, namely peat forest and primary natural forest, Zulkifli said in Yogyakarta as reported by (2/6/2010).

He reiterated that there was still forest land that could be managed by pulp/paper and palm oil industries. “There is degraded land, 12 millions hectares. There is no-standing-tree forest area [with] 40 millions hectares.” 

Previously, Minister of Forestry said on Monday that conversion license in natural forest and peatlands will not be issued for any purposes. He said there was no government regulation issued yet to stipulate the proposition, but the direction mentioned by President SBY was obvious to create the upcoming Presidential Regulation, reported Monday (31/5/2010).

”Mr President’s direction is clear, peatlands and natural forest on any depth either in forest area or outside area cannot be granted new licenses,” Zulkifli said.

The Minister said that the Government would also stop issuing extended forest conversion licenses.  If the President issues the regulation, consequently the provincial and district governments must follow it by not grant any licenses to convert both kinds of forest.