"We are 100 percent pro-people."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has joined the world in celebrating the International Year of Forest 2011 as declared by The United Nations General Assembly to celebrate people`s action to sustainably manage the world`s forests.

The International Forest Year 2011`s theme is "Forests for People".

The theme is aimed at celebrating the central role of people in the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of the world`s forests, according to the US-based World Forestry Center on its official website.

Forests provide shelter to people and habitat to biodiversity, and are a source of food, medicine and clean water; and play a vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment.

"All of these elements taken together reinforce the message that forests are vital to the survival and well being of people everywhere, all 7 billion of us," the World Forestry Center stated.

Every day, some 350 square kilometers of forest cover are lost worldwide, according to the United Nations (UN) data. Conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements are the most common reasons for this loss of forested areas.

"By declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests - and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said when launching the International Forest Year 2011 in the UN Headquarters in New York, last February.

In line with the International Forest Year`s theme, Indonesia has applied forestry policies which are pro-growth, pro-job, pro-people, and pro-environment, according to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan.

"The environmental preservation is not contradict to the economic growth, in fact, it is in line with the growth," Forestry Minister Zulkifli said in a dialog with the media chiefs at Wisma ANTARA, here, Tuesday (April 26).

The forestry ministry has allocated 700,000 hectares for the people`s and rural forest programs, an increase from around 600,000 hectares in 2010.

The minister said it would be impossible to regreen Indonesia without the support of the people in general, he said.

As part of the International Forest Year 2011`s activities, Indonesia plans to plant 1.5 billion trees this year.

"Last year, we planted 1.3 billion trees of the target of one billion trees," he said.

It has also provided seedlings to be distributed to the people free of charge. The ministry has helped develop 8,000 People`s Seedling Nurseries (KBR) in 2010, and plans to have 10,000 KBRs this year, and 15,000 next year.

Besides, the ministry has also had 23 permanent seedling nurseries in 22 provinces this year.

To support the tree planting program, the ministry has allocated Rp3 trillion, or 50 percent of its total budget of Rp6 trillion in 2011.

"We are 100 percent pro-people," Zulkifli Hasan stated, adding that the second largest budget goes to the preservation of conservation area program.

He believed that the country has adequate regulations in the forestry sector, but the problem is the implementation which is very much related to culture.

For the tree planting program, for instance, it is quite successful in Central Java and East Java Provinces in particular because the two provinces` inhabitants have rooted culture of planting, including for their own vegetable and medicinal herbal needs.

But, tree planting does not yet become culture for those in Sumatra, Sulawesi and Papua Islands, according to the minister.

Despite, "the lack of culture", South Sumatra has contributed 150 million trees for the government`s 1.5 billion tree planting program.

The 150 million trees had been planted through a regreening program, said South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin in a seminar on the Green Gross Domestic Product (Green PDRB) organized by PT Sinarmas Forestry in Palembang recently.

At the end of this year, the province hoped to contribute a total of 200 million trees.

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on its website, forests cover one third of the earth`s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities.

Forests feed rivers and are essential to supplying the water for nearly 50% of largest cities. They create and maintain soil fertility; they help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms, floods and fires.

"In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide," the UNEP said.

Indonesia will celebrate World Environment Day (WED) 2011 on June 5 under the theme "Forests as Life Support".

"Forests have a crucial meaning for our survival as an oxygen producer, forests also regulate the water cycle and reduce air pollution. They are a biodiversity source," Environmental Affairs Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said in Jakarta, last March.

According to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Indonesia`s forest areas cover around 130 million hectares, comprising 45 million hectares of premier forests, 45 million hectares of logged over areas, and 40 million hectares of critical forest areas.
(T. F001/HAJM/O001)

Reporter: by Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2011