Activists Call for Ban on Deforestation

Environmental activists have called on the government to abandon its business-as-usual approach to granting forestry concessions and suggested an action plan to implement a moratorium on new concessions.

Under an agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway in Oslo in May, Indonesia pledged to stop issuing new logging permits for peatland and primary natural forests between 2011 and 2013.

The agreement will see Norway provide a $1 billion fund for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) schemes in Indonesian forests.

On Tuesday, Giorgio Budi Indarto, coordinator of the Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice, said the government should use the implementation of the moratorium as an opportunity to re-evaluate its “inconsistent policies” between forest conservation and exploitation.

“The government can begin by freezing the issuance of new logging and mining concessions, and appointing independent bodies to review previous concessions,” he said.

To ensure the moratorium can be put into effect, Giorgio said, the government must issue a presidential decree to serve as a legal reference for a logging ban.

However, he warned that the decree should not be treated as a “final target but as part of a process that we have to go through to achieve zero deforestation.”

The next step, he said, would be for the government to compile a list of forest areas assessed by their ecological value, and to reclassify forest allocation.

Last, the government must resolve social problems stemming from deforestation that affect local communities, Giorgio said.

“The locals have to be taken into account, including their indigenous right to benefit from the forests,” he said.

But Yuyun Indradi, a political campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said that he was pessimistic that Indonesia would be able to achieve its commitment to reduce emissions by as much as 41 percent, a pledge made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last year.

“The implementation of the moratorium in the field so far hasn’t provided any guarantees that there will be any reduction in emissions,” he said.

“It looks like the government really lacks the intention to slow the pace of deforestation and reduce emissions.”


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