Indonesia: President targets 400,000 hectares of peatland restoration in 2017

Antara 11 Jan 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government has outlined a target to restore 400,000 hectares of peatland areas in seven provinces in 2017, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated.

"To achieve the target to restore peatland areas in 2017, the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) cannot work alone. It needs complete support of the ministries, state institutions, and local governments," President Jokowi stated at the start of a closed-door meeting on peatland restoration here, Wednesday.

The seven provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua.

The meeting was also attended by BRG Chief Nazir Foead and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya.

The head of state emphasized that close coordination among stakeholders was necessary to attain the target of restoring 2 million hectares of peatland areas by 2020 and to avoid further environmental disasters of forest fires and haze.

Jokowi reiterated that peatland restoration should be carried out in regions outlined as cultivation areas for production forests as well as other uses.

The president has called to offer maximum protection to conserve 6.1 million hectares of undamaged peatland areas.

The government will no longer issue new licenses to use peatland areas as concessionaires land.

"For undamaged peatland areas, which already have the license, I want them to be established as the companys preserved land," he stressed.

The government will support any effort and will grant licenses to restore the peatland ecosystem to be conducted in cooperation with the local communities.(*)

Government to restore 400,000 hectares of peatland in 2017
Anton Hermansyah The Jakarta Post 12 Jan 17;

The government aims to restore 400,000 hectares of critical peatland in 2017, a lower target compared to 600,000 ha in 2016.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar has said the government will speed up canal and pond construction to maintain water levels in peatland areas.

"We need to keep the water level at least 40 centimeters below the surface. During the latest fire in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, the water level was only 50 to 60 centimeters from the surface," Siti said at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday, adding that from 2009 to 2016 the permissible water level for palm oil plantations was 80 cm.

(Read also: Indonesia's forest concessionaires required to restore peatland)

In 2016, 16,615 canals and 2,581 water ponds were built in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Presidential chief of staff Teten Masduki said Indonesia had 2 million ha of critical peatland that had to be rewet, of which 1.4 ha was located on concession land. The government therefore has to work with plantation companies.

"The companies have to build wells and use real-time water level detectors as an early warning system," Teten said.

Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) head Nazir Foead said palm oil companies actually objected to the new rule as high water levels would reduce productivity and because the water detectors were costly. However, the government will offer productive alternatives such as mixing oil palm with other plants like rubber or combining plantations with breeding livestock.(jun)

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