Indonesia: Peat forest restoration is collective responsibility -- Vice President Jusuf Kalla

Antara 13 Nov 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Vice President Jusuf Kalla has said that the restoration of burned peat forests was a shared responsibility among the government, companies and communities.

Kalla remarked that smoke from peat forest fires in Indonesia has been caused by logging activities conducted by foreign companies since 1960.

"Many foreign companies came in the 1960s and 1970s to log in Indonesia and destroyed the forest," the vice president said, while opening an international discussion on solutions to forest fires and smoke crises. The event was held at the Shangrila Hotel on Friday.

He said many foreign companies have invested in Indonesia by taking the country's timber and processing it into furniture in their own country.

"The wooden furniture we find in America or any other countries is largely from the forests of Indonesia. And because it is excessive, the forests in Indonesia became bare and there are smoke disasters today," he added.

Therefore, Vice President Kalla said settlement of forest fires and smoke problems, such as those that occurred in the last three months, requires shared cooperation among all parties.

Thee Ministry of Environment and Forests (LHK) sponsored the International Discussion to seek long-term solutions to the crisis of fire and smoke in Indonesia, with a focus on sustainable peatland management.

The discussion was attended by 220 participants, including experts from Indonesia, in a bid to determine the best long-term solution in peat forest management.

Also present were Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, LHK Minister Siti Nurbaya, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution and the Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia, Stig Traavik.(*)

Kalla Calls for Solutions to Forest Fires
Novianti Setuningsih Jakarta Globe 13 Nov 15;

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla has called for a range of solutions to prevent the chronic fires that razed more than two million hectares of forest and unleashed record amounts of greenhouse gases in the past few months.

Kalla, speaking at a conference in Jakarta on Friday to address the disaster, called for cooperation from all stakeholders. To prevent future fires, he said, the government would take short-term measures – such as issuing a forest-clearing moratorium (which already exists) or limiting permits for forest use – and long-term ones, such as restoring peat forests.

He said a special restoration agency would be established to apply the various solutions to the perennial problem, which this year has seen ensure both types of solutions work as planned so the fire problem—that so far has scorched 2.09 million hectares of forest and peatland go up in smoke between June and October.

Kalla said the “trillions of rupiah” needed for prevention and restoration programs would come from the government and from foreign entities – after earlier this year dismissing offers of help from the outside community to put out the fires before they spread out of control.

“The companies involved in the recent fires must be held responsible [for restoration costs] as well. They have to be involved in terms of the budget,” he added.

Indonesian officials continue to insist that logging and plantation companies are responsible for the bulk of the fires, although reams of studies indicate otherwise.

Kalla also continued to heap blame of foreign entities, saying it was regrettable that the government had in the 1960s and 1970s allowed overseas companies to enter the forestry and plantation industries.

The fires this year, deliberately set to clear forests for farmland, were among the worst on record, generating haze the spread as far as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Daily greenhouse gas emissions from the fires alone exceeded emissions from the entirety of US economic activity on several days.

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