Taking over burned areas will send wrong signals to market, Indonesian palm oil association says

(foresthints.news) - President Joko Widodo recently formed the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency in an effort to restore roughly 2 million hectares of burned peatland. Furthermore, the Indonesian government also plans to pursue a policy whereby it will take over burned areas, particularly those located in forestry and palm oil concessions. The objective of this policy is to ensure that these burned areas can be restored with specific management under the supervision of the government.

“It’s imperative that the peatland agency positions the corporate sector as the number one stakeholder in its restoration efforts,” Fadhil Hasan, Executive Director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association told foresthints.news on Monday (Jan 25) in Jakarta.

Fadhil emphasized that the peatland agency is not only tasked with restoring burned peatland areas, in particular those located in palm oil concessions, but must also send positive signals to the market about strengthening the role of the Indonesian corporate sector in support of peatland restoration.

“Taking over burned areas situated in palm oil concessions will actually send the wrong signals to the market. What we really need to think about is how to ask those companies whose peatland areas have been burned to act as responsibly as possible in rehabilitating these areas. The peatland agency can play a role in facilitating this,” Fadhil pointed out.

Fadhil went even further, saying that the takeover of burned areas in palm oil concessions would be an early sign of the failure of the peatland restoration scheme.

“The key here is how we can reinforce the participation and accountability of the private sector. The technical guidelines need to be clear and established in a participatory manner involving this sector. In fact, the private sector is the stakeholder most prepared for this, and we all hope that the peatland restoration agency will be successful in its efforts down the road,” he continued.

Fadhil also stressed that the peatland agency should predominantly derive its funding from the Indonesian state budget.

“Look, this is a commitment on the part of the President, rather than an international commitment. However, in addition to obtaining funds from the state budget, the agency can also mobilize investment from elements of the private sector for rehabilitating or restoring burned peatland areas located in concessions belonging to them,” Fadhil explained.

In Fadhil’s view, the peatland agency should avoid backing the private sector into a corner as well as issuing policies seen as controversial from a business perspective.

“The President has made a commitment to prioritizing peatland restoration and the private sector unquestionably backs him on this,” Fadhil said.



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