Indonesia to restore damaged peat lands in five years

Antara 13 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia expects to restore two million hectares of peat lands, damaged by fires last year, within the next five years, presidential spokesman Johan Budi said here on Wednesday.

To achieve this aim, the Indonesian government has set up "Badan Restorasi Gambut (Peat Land Reatoration Agency - BRG), he said.

"It is hoped through this agency, the condition of peat land will be restored. The peat land would be restored to pre-fire state in around five years time," he said at the compound of the presidential palace.

Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya, who accompanied President Joko Widodo during the announcement of the establishment of BRG at a press conference, earlier said that BRG is a non-structural body under the President, and accountable to him.

She said BRG will carry out coordination, and will help in effective restoration, planning and control. It will also ensure cooperation in these efforts.

The agency is also tasked with mapping and determining reserve zones and cultivation areas, implementing the construction of infrastructure and other means to restrict the zones and managing the burned peat areas.

"Ensuring familiarization and education as part of peat land restoration framework, supervision of implementation and maintenance of infrastructure in conversion lands fall in the ambit of the agency, as also other duties assigned by the President," he said.

The BRG will have a chief, a secretariat and four deputies.

"The BRG is supported by a technical steering team and an expert team. The technical steering team members include provincial governors and relevant deputies and director generals," she said.

The expert team members come from universities, research institutes, professionals and larger community.

"The BRGs tenure ends on December 31, 2020," she said.(*)

Indonesia serious about handling damage to peatland: President
Antara 13 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has stressed that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to the countrys peatland, as is clear from the setting up of a peatland restoration agency.

"We can convince the international community that we are serious, very serious about handling the damage to the peatland," he said while announcing the setting up of the peatland restoration agency at the Merdeka Palace here on Wednesday.

Land and forest fires, which affected several provinces in Indonesia last year, serves as a valuable lesson for President Jokowis administration.

In this regard, he set up the agency under presidential regulation number 1 of 2016.

"I want to announce the creation of peatland restoration body through a presidential regulation I signed early this month," he said.

On the occasion, Jokowi also introduced Nazir Foead as the agencys chief.

The president assigned the body to draft an action plan immediately to show to the world that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to peatland.

For the umpteenth time, the president stressed that the nation must learn a lesson from last years land and forest fires in several parts of the country.

"Although these (land and forest fires) have happened repeatedly in the past 18 years, they serve as a valuable lesson," he said.(*)


President announces establishment of peatland restoration agency
Antara 13 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo announced the establishment of a peat agency at the Merdeka Palace here on Wednesday to restore the peatland areas destroyed by fires in the country last year.

"As we all know, forest fires had ravaged several provinces in the country last year. In connection with this, I today announced the establishment of a peat restoration body based on a presidential regulation I signed on January 6, 2016," he stated at a press conference.

On the occasion, he also introduced Ir Nazir Foead as chief of the body.

President Widodo noted that the leadership of the agency would coordinate the restoration of peatland areas, which were damaged by fires in several provinces.

The president pointed out that Nazir had the required competence and experience, especially in coordinating with ministries as well as state and international institutions.

"An action plan must be immediately prepared and implemented to especially demonstrate to the international community that Indonesia is serious in dealing with the peatland problem," he emphasized.

The Indonesian government has issued a presidential regulation for the establishment of a peatland restoration body to prevent fires in future.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar remarked here on Wednesday that Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 1 of 2016 was issued on January 6, 2016.

"Actually, most of its (the peat body) task is to restore the landscape of peatland ecology with regard to saving and protecting them as well as preventing them from fires or being burnt down," she affirmed.

She explained that the institution was tasked with safeguarding, managing, and restoring the peatland areas.

She revealed that two to three million hectares of peatland areas will be restored.

She said several institutions and ministries such as the environment and forestry ministry, the public works and housing ministry, the agriculture ministry, the agrarian and spatial affairs ministry, and the National Development Planning Board will be involved in the effort.(*)


Greenpeace hails establishment of Peatland Restoration Agency
Antara 15 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Greenpeace has hailed the governments decision to establish a Peatland Restoration Agency and the appointment of environmental activist Nazir Foead as its chief.

"It is a good initial step. The agency, however, will be effective and successful if it would involve the community by making public the forestry data, which had so far remained undisclosed," Teguh Surya, Greenpeace Indonesias foreign campaigner, noted in a press statement received here on Friday.

He believed that President Joko Widodo has taken a huge step in the right direction to overcome the damage caused to peatland areas in the country by proposing to use canals to water them again.

He also praised the issuance of Government Regulation Number 71 of 2014 that imposes a moratorium on peatland exploitation.

He, however, pointed out that the regulation had failed since it was not strengthened, while the follow-up plan was not on a large scale and lacked coordination.

He noted that the Peatland Restoration Agency had limited authority, and hence, the government and all its ranks must cooperate to support it, including in the field of coordination and implementation at regional levels.

Based on the presidents Regulation Number 1 of 2016, the agencys target was to restore only two million hectares until 2020, which is still far below the total area of damaged peatlands that needs to be mapped and restored by the government, he emphasized.

"Permanent fire prevention would only be effective if restoration is carried out across areas that have been damaged and not limited to the two million-hectare area, with a fixed timeline and indicators," he pointed out.

"As we all know, forest fires had occurred in several provinces last year. In connection with this, I today announce the establishment of the Peatland Restoration Agency based on a presidential regulation that I had already signed on January 6," President Widodo stated while announcing the establishment of the Peatland Restoration Agency at the state palace on Wednesday.

He said the agency would later coordinate efforts to restore the peatland areas in several provinces.

The president said that the appointed chairman Foead had the required competence and experience, especially in coordinating with ministries and state institutions as well as international agencies.

"Action plans must immediately be made and implemented to specially convince the international community that Indonesia is serious about handling peatland problems," he added.(*)

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