August 16, 2019

Protection forests removed from moratorium map

JAKARTA ( - More than three-quarters of Indonesia's primary forest and peatland permanent moratorium map, whose total area covers in excess of 66 million hectares or over 15 times the size of the Netherlands, is composed of conservation areas and protection forests.

In a public statement in a leading Indonesian newspaper (Aug 9), Greenpeace declared "with or without the permanent moratorium, conservation areas and protection forests are legally protected."

However, this was immediately refuted the same day by Jakarta-based forestry research group Greenomics Indonesia, as reported by various media outlets, which emphasized that Greenpeace's statement was legally incorrect.

According to Greenomics, there is a lot of evidence showing that parts of conservation areas and protection forests had their legal status changed by the previous administration to be used for logging, mining and palm oil permits.

A 2013 Greenomics report is an example of the legal evidence revealing that the Aceh government proposed a number of protection forest blocks be converted into production forests, which was subsequently approved by the Indonesian Forestry Ministry.

After approval, this change was incorporated into the Aceh spatial plan, which was signed in December 2013. In May 2014, these protection forest blocks whose legal status was changed into production forests were legally removed from the moratorium map.

Sumatran tiger habitat

The following photos, taken by the team, depict one of these converted protection forest blocks. According to IUCN, this protection forest block is inhabited by the Sumatran tiger.

Fortunately, the protection forests whose legal status was changed into production forests and which were removed from the moratorium map still have relatively good forest cover.

As previously reported by (Jul 16), the legal status of parts of  Sebangau National Park was changed by the previous government in 2011, with a palm oil permit granted for some of these areas in 2013.

The recently-issued permanent moratorium which largely incorporates conservation areas and protection forests will legally ensure that no changes to the legal status of these areas for the purpose of granting logging, mining and palm oil permits can take place.

The production forest block portrayed below, which lies on the west coast of Aceh, remains relatively intact. As a previous protection forest block which is now excluded from the moratorium map, it must be monitored to prevent the clearing of the Sumatran tiger habitat within it.

The evidence presented in this news report proves that Greenpeace's statement that with or without the moratorium, conservation areas and protection forests are legally protected is misleading to the public.

In fact, this irresponsible statement is both technically and legally inaccurate.

Permanent moratorium applauded

Norway's Minister for Climate and the Environment, Ola Elvestuen, praised Indonesia on the ministry's official website, stating that it is about to become a global leader in the fight against deforestation with a moratorium map larger than the combined area of Germany and Italy. 

Prior to this, the World Resources Institute (WRI) hailed Indonesia's permanent moratorium as a huge step in the right direction which would ensure the conservation and preservation of the country's intact forests and peatlands.

Furthermore, Stig Ingemar Traavik, the special envoy for Norway's international climate and forest initiative, also lauded the permanent moratorium as a fantastic and extremely encouraging move which goes far beyond climate change issues.



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