Indonesia: Forest cover maps to remain confidential -- Court

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 16 Feb 17;

The State Administrative High Court (PTUN) ruled on Thursday in favor of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, allowing the government to not disclose forest cover maps, which are essential in providing greater transparency on forest governance.

In September 2015, Greenpeace Indonesia filed a lawsuit at the Central Information Commission (KIP) against the ministry for refusing to release various cover maps in shapefile format, which the ministry deems to be confidential documents.

Shapefile format for maps enables users to analyze data by overlaying different maps. It functions to provide greater transparency about who controls areas of land and what happens within those areas.

Last October, the KIP ruled in favor of Greenpeace Indonesia. However, the ministry appealed to the PTUN, which in turn decided that the ministry could keep the documents confidential.

“The future of Indonesia’s forests is getting darker with this ruling. There are many changes within forest areas unknown to the public because the data and information are being kept deliberately by the ministry,” Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Ratri Kusumohartono said.

She said the ruling and the government’s stance meant there was no transparency on forest governance under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration.

“This ruling means that there’s less opportunity for the public to participate in preventing deforestation and forest fires. Meanwhile, important data that was requested by Greenpeace Indonesia is key information to knowing the conditions of our forests today,” Ratri said.

Therefore, Greenpeace Indonesia would file a cassation at the Supreme Court.

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