The government insists that new permits awarded to industrial forest concessions (HTI) to fell 10 million cubic meters of trees in Riau this year did not run counter to the country’s climate deal with Norway.
Director General of forest production development at the Forestry Ministry Hadi Daryanto said permits to cut trees in Riau were given to companies that operated prior to the signing of the letter of intent (LoI) between Indonesia and Norway.
“They are not new companies and have nothing to do with the LoI,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Greenpeace Indonesia earlier said the government had approved 15 new annual work plans (RKT) that would allow the HTI to fell 10 million cubic meters of trees in Riau.
Greenpeace forest campaigner in Sumatra, Zulfahmi, said 80 percent of the allocated trees would be harvested from natural forests.
“It means any promises to impose a moratorium on [logging in] natural forests was broken with the facts [on the ground in Riau],” he said.
Indonesia and Norway signed a climate deal to reduce deforestation in Indonesia.
Under the US$1 billion deal, Indonesia pledged to stop issuing new permits to exploit natural forests and the rich-carbon areas of the peatland from 2011 to 2012.
In return, Indonesia would receive financial incentives from the Norway based on the total emissions by reducing deforestation.
The deforestation rate in Indonesia hit over 1 million hectares per year due to illegal logging and forest fires.
The RKT is a document issued by Jakarta showing the total number of trees that can be cut per year by the companies and the total degraded land that can be converted through planting trees.
Previously, the RKT was issued by forestry officials at the local administrations.
Hadi said the RKT was not merely for harvesting trees, it also regulated the planting of trees and the management of concession boundaries.
“The activities are related to absorption emissions and the improvement of forest capacity to prevent deforestation,” Hadi was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.
He said that after the reform era, many companies returned their permits to the government making the concessions targets for illegal logging.
“Therefore, the trees are not natural forests,” he said.
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the RKT was issued in a move to support the government’s plan to plant trees.
Indonesia has targeted to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 of which 80 percent would be from the forestry sector, by planting trees for example.
Greenomics Indonesia executive director Elfian Effendi said the moratorium on new business permits would not help improve the condition of forests in Riau.
“The best solution for Riau forests is stop issuing new RKT. Otherwise existing companies will continue felling trees,” he said.