Indonesia: President Joko Appoints Conservationist as New Peat Restoration Agency Head

Novy Lumanauw Jakarta Globe 20 Jan 16;

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Wednesday inaugurated Nazir Foead, conservation director at the World Wildlife Fund, as head of the newly established Peat Restoration Agency, known as BRG.

“To me, Nazir Foead has the competencies and experiences in restoring the forests and peat lands, especially the skills to coordinate with the [related] ministries, [local] agencies and international agency networks,” Joko said ahead of the inauguration last week.

The BRG is tasked with restoring peat lands in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Papua and across all of Kalimantan which have been affected by last year's disastrous forest and land fires. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests and peat lands were destroyed.

As a non-structural agency reporting directly to the president, the BRG will be responsbile for coordinating and reinforcing policies relating to peat restoration and cooperation among authorities to restore the areas. It has also been assigned to map and establish protection zones and provide training and the tools required to mitigate future fire seasons. Empowering local communities to end slash-and-burn practices is among the highest priority for the agency.

Nazir will be joined by a secretary-general and four deputies, alongside a technical team of senior officials from provincial government and related agencies and ministries. Nazir will also call on experts from universities and research groups.

BRG will work on the project until the end of 2020.

Indonesia lost over two million hectares of forest and peat lands last year between June and October during the crisis, National Space and Aviation Agency (Lapan) data has shown, causing massive economic losses, productivity issues and scores of health problems.

Joko has cracked down on the practice in an effort to stop the seasonal fires from recurring this year. On Tuesday he threatened fire, police and military officials with sanctions should the fail to prevent and mitigate similar problems in 2016.

Joko Vows Zero Tolerance for Police, Military Officials Who Fail to Prevent Forest Fires
Jakarta Globe 19 Jan 16;

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has threatened the jobs of police and military officials if they fail to prevent forest and land fires for recurring this year and calling for stricter enforcement of slash-and-burn laws and more effective prevention methods.

“I have coordinated with the National Police chief [Gen. Badrodin Haiti] and the Indonesian Military commander [Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo] to implement the reward and punishment system. If there are a lot of forest and land fire cases, dismiss and replace [officials]. Conversely, those with good performances will be promoted,” the President said on Monday, as quoted by

Joko advocated coordination and cooperation among police and military officials with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Forestry to stop the fires from occurring this year.

“The BNPB does not have any troops but the National Police and the military do. The regional military commanders, regional police chiefs, military resort commands, district police chiefs, everyone has to be deployed," he said.

"You have to make actual visits to the fields, don't just sit behind your desks."

Regional leaders, such as governors, mayors and district heads, must also play a role in mitigating forest fires, mainly through financing and assisting in the logistical and technical support for volunteers and officials, the President said.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in Sumatra and Kalimantan — and neigboring Malaysia and Singapore — were blanketed in thick haze for months last year, caused by forest fires in the two Indonesian islands. Tens of thousands were treated for respiratory illnesses and eye infections.

Indonesia lost over two million hectares of forest area during last year's fire crisis, data published by the National Space and Aviation Agency (Lapan) showed, causing massive economic losses and decreased productivity.