News Update: Indonesian Government Means It This Time

The government (of Indonesia) is set to conduct a field survey this month to update its map for a deforestation moratorium, after various stakeholders submitted conflicting claims on the actual situation.

The map has been revised twice before. For the third revision, a dedicated government task force to monitor the implementation of the moratorium staged a two-day seminar to garner input from stakeholders including the National Land Agency (BPN), the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.

“The likelihood that the map will change is there, because the BPN has not provided much input,” said Geospatial Information Agency deputy Priyadi Kardono, a member of the task force.

“We are still collecting data. Not all the data from the Forestry Ministry has been collected, for instance.”

He added the task force had received a report from the Sustainable Ecosystem Foundation (YEL) about a forest area in Batang Toru, Tapanuli district, North Sumatra, which was supposed to be protected under the moratorium map but which was in reality classified as a production forest.

A production forest is one where logging is permitted.

Priyadi said another report came from the South Sumatra Forestry Agency, which reported four companies engaged in deforestation on sites included in the existing moratorium map.

“There will a field survey of five provinces — North Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra, East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi — from September 19 to 30,” he said.

The third revision, Priyadi said, would be issued in November.

Nirarta Samadhi, chairman of the moratorium monitoring team and a deputy at the Presidential Working Unit for Development, Supervision and Oversight (UKP4), said that the data for the third revision would be more complete than that used in the previous versions.

“The old forest map was done using old methods. Now that we have high resolution imaging, it must be analyzed to create a new map,” he said.

Last month, Norway’s environment minister, Baard Vegar Solhjell, urged Indonesia to avoid backtracking on its own policies to protect tropical forests, saying up to $1 billion in aid promised by Oslo in exchange for Indonesia implementing the two-year moratorium hinged on proof of slower rates of forest clearance.

Norway, rich in oil and gas, has promised cash to 40 nations to stem deforestation, as part of efforts to slow the pace of climate change.

He said Indonesia had made a “big step forward” by imposing the moratorium on forest clearance in 2011, despite widespread criticism that illegal logging was still continuing.

“[Indonesia] needs to move from this initial phase into a phase of actual reductions” of deforestation, Solhjell said.

“The big money will be connected to actual results.”

An earlier review of the moratorium map by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that it left almost 50 percent of Indonesia’s 100 million hectares of natural forest and peatland unprotected.

“The current moratorium is weak and does very little to protect the Indonesia’s forests,” said Deddy Ratih, an activist with Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

The moratorium to protect primary and peat forests came into effect last year as the centerpiece of a deal with Norway.

That deal was part of a larger commitment made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from levels that year by 26 percent by 2020, or by 41 percent with international support.

This article was written by Fidelis E. Satriastanti  and appeared in and is courtesy of The Jakarta Globe.  The photo is by Reuters Photo/Crack Palinggi.

OC edit by Tom Mills.  To learn more about the forest and the devastating effects of rampant palm oil production to orangutans visit the Orangutan Conservancy website.

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