Indonesia Allows Underground Mining in Forests, Minister Says

Yoga Rusmana and Dinakar Sethuraman Jakarta Globe 30 May 11;

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week issued a decree allowing underground mining in some protected forests for coal and minerals, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said.

"The ruling is aimed at improving existing management of forest use for mining," Hasan said at Coaltrans Asia Conference in Bali.

"Miners must have mining and land-use permits from the local administration and forestry ministry to operate in protected forests."

Primary forests and peatlands are excluded from the decree, as the government has imposed a two-year ban on mining and expansion of plantations in those areas, Hasan said.

Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of power station- coal and tin and is rich with other minerals such as copper, nickel and bauxite.


Greenomics questions moratorium map`s accuracy
Antara 30 May 11;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Greenomics Indonesia has questioned the accuracy of the Indicative Map attached in the Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on Moratorium on New Logging Concession for Primary Forests and Peat Lands.

"Based on the sampling test carried out by Greenomics toward primary forest blocks in the indicative map, at least nine major blocks claimed as primary forests actually have the condition more dominated by secondary forests," Greenomics Indonesia Executive Director Elfian Effendi said in a press statement here Monday.

Greenomics said secondary forests have been claimed as primary forests especially on Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands.

"There are indications, the Presidential Instruction wants to maximize the area coverage of moratorium in the conservation areas and protected forests to give an impression that the total forest coverage under the moratorium regulation is very large. Allegedly, it has been done by upgrading the status of secondary forests into primary forests," Elfian said.

According to the forestry ministry`s data based on the 2005/2006 satellite image, the primary forets in the conservation areas constituted only 53.32 percent, while the secondary forests 4.68 percent.

The protected forest coverage having primary forests reaches 45.29 percent, while the secondary forests without forests 50.40 percent.

"The data was the condition of around five years ago. The current condition is different because the coverage of primary forests in conserved and protected forests have depleting," he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the long-awaited Presidential Instruction on deforestation moratorium to help curb the climate change impacts and preserve the remaining tropical forests and biodiversity in it.

The news on the two-year moratorium decree was revealed to the press by Agus Purnomo , a presidential aide for climate change affairs, on May 19, 2011.

Deforestation is one of the primary sources of gas emissions causing global warming. With the very high deforestation rate at 1.1 million hectares per year, Indonesia has been accused as the world`s third-largest gas emitter.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Greens Blast ‘Hidden Mining’ Decree
Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 1 Jun 11;

Activists have blasted a presidential decree that allows underground mining in protected areas, saying it will result in the exploitation of forest ecosystems.

Hendrik Siregar, a campaigner with the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), said on Tuesday that the decree signed last month went against the government’s commitment to protecting the environment.

“[Forests] need to be guarded because of their ecological value. No kind of mining, no matter the method, should be taking place in protected areas,” he said.

Under the decree, resource exploitation in protected forests is allowed as long as it is done underground and does not violate the terms of use on the land.

The regulation also requires operators to build infrastructure that supports production activities in the protected area.

To qualify for a permit, applicants must compensate the government with land that is twice the area of the concession they are seeking to mine.

They are also obliged to replant trees and rehabilitate river catchment areas of the same size as their concession. The permits are valid for 20 years and can be extended.

Hendrik said that while the government had touted the geothermal power industry as one of the beneficiaries of this decree, there were no provisions in it specifically mentioning anything about geothermal exploitation.

Dyah Paramita, a researcher with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, said the decree allowed miners to bypass existing prohibitions against mining in protected areas defined by the Forestry Ministry.

“It sets no environmental standards for underground mining,” she said. “This decree wasn’t well thought out. It’s as if the government said, ‘Let’s just put this thing out there first, then we’ll think about the impact to the environment later.’ ”

Dyah also said that with few miners now meeting their obligations to rehabilitate land, there was no guarantee that underground miners would leave forests intact.

She said: “Let’s be frank here — we’re still having difficulties with rehabilitation from surface mining, so how do you expect it to go with underground mining?

“It’s truly regrettable that this decree was issued because protected areas serve a crucial function as catchments of underground water,” Dyah said.

“How do we know that underground mining won’t affect these water reserves? We can’t even fully monitor the impacts of surface mining, so how do you monitor something hidden?”