Indonesia: Govt to put moratorium on firms with idle concessions

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 18 Jun 16;

Soon, palm oil and forestry resource companies will be forbidden from starting any activities on any of their concessions that are idle, as the government plans to expand a moratorium on peatland use in a bid to curb the annual land and forest fires.

The government is currently revising Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 8/2015 on a permit moratorium for primary forests and peatlands, which has been in effect since May last year.

The moratorium on clearing primary forests and peatlands was first introduced by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2010 and was extended by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo through the Inpres last year.

The original moratorium only banned permits to be issued allowing the use of peatland that has not yet been turned into concessions.

However, following Jokowi’s instructions, the Inpres will be revised once again to impose a total moratorium on the use of peatland, including land that has been turned into concessions but left idle.

Jokowi called for a stronger moratorium because 10 people, mostly children, were killed by smoke pollution from last year’s fires.

“The President has announced that for the concession holders of areas have not been cultivated yet, they will not be able to cultivate them once the new moratorium is in place,” Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) planning and cooperation deputy Budi Wardhana said.

Therefore, the total amount of peatland affected by the moratorium will increase. Currently, there are 8.4 million hectares of peatland affected by the moratorium, out of a total of 20.6 million ha of peatland in the country.

“The BRG itself estimates that there are 4.4 million hectares of peatland in concession areas that should be put under moratorium,” Budi said.

Environment and Forestry Ministry secretary-general Bambang Hendroyono said the revision of the moratorium was being discussed in the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister.

“If possible the revision will be finished in one or two months,” he said, adding that all ministries must have agreed to the revision considering how it was an instruction from the President.

The moratorium on peatland use is a part of the government’s effort to reduce rampant slash-and-burn practices in peatland areas, which have largely caused the annual land and forest fires in the archipelago.

Besides the moratorium, the government also recently started a nationwide effort to restore more than 2 million hectares of peatland in the next five years through the establishment of the BRG.

Much of the burden to restore the environmental damage to peatland lies with the private sector, which is in control of concession areas as 531 companies are operating in areas to be restored. A mapping by the BRG
revealed that as many as 2.7 million ha of peatland had to be restored in the next five years to prevent the recurring land and forest fires.

Out of the 2.7 million ha, 87 percent of them, 2.3 million ha, are in concession areas.

Since the majority of the restoration areas are in concession areas, the BRG has to work closely with companies as they are the ones that have to do the restoration work with their own money.

BRG head Nazir Foead said most firms had cooperated with the agency by submitting their data and maps.

The country’s largest pulp and paper producer, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), initially refused to submit its documents directly to the BRG. APP finally submitted its documents to the BRG on June 13.

“The documents are complete now and we will verify this data together,” said Budi.

No comments:

Post a Comment