Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A coalition of Indonesian civil society organizations for forest protection here Thursday challenged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order an immediate review of existing forest clearance permits.

The NGOs also urged the government to improve forest governance in order to strengthen the two-year Moratorium on Deforestation that came into force in May, Greenpeace said in a press statement here Thursday.

Moratorium maps recently released by the government claim 72 million hectares of forest will be protected.

"However, Greenpeace analysis of these maps clearly shows that 1,7 million hectares are still inside concession areas, which overlap the moratorium maps, but could be destroyed," Greenpeace said.

Indonesia`s already huge greenhouse gas emissions would spike and large tracts of natural forest, critical for the survival of forest dependent communities and endangered species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger, would be lost forever, the international environmental NGO said.

"The Government must urgently conduct the permit review as the first step to strengthening law enforcement in the forestry sector, which has up until now been a den of corruption," Yuyun Indradi, Political Forest Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said.

Ongoing investigations conducted by Greenpeace show that some companies continue to destroy forests in areas that are protected under the Moratorium.

The Moratorium in its current weak form will stop President Yudhoyono delivering on his commitment to reduce carbon emissions by between 26% - 41% by 2020.

The next two years should instead be used to improve forest management and law enforcement through reviewing existing permits and strictly enforcing the law and respecting local community rights to resolve land tenure conflicts.

There is also a clear contradiction between the moratorium policy and pulp and paper industry production. Only 43% of the 10 million hectares of Industrial Forest Plantations (HTI) has been planted, which means most of the wood supply still comes from natural forest.

"The inefficient and unproductive forest industry is also a factor inhibiting the implementation of the moratorium. Instead of encouraging an increase in production from existing concessions, the government conversely provide flexibility for the industry to continue to destroy natural forest, livelihoods and biodiversity," said Muhammad Teguh Surya, the head of Climate Justice Department of WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum).

WALHI also urged President Yudhoyono to immediately address the government`s failing efforts to reduce emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).

The government fear of the impending economic collapse due to the implementation of moratorium is also unfounded, as the plantation and forestry sector contributes only 1% of GDP, according to Greenpeace.

"The government should also extend the mandate of the REDD+ Task Force (UKP4) to intensify the implementation of the presidential decree, conduct the permit review and enforce the law to stamp out corruption in the forestry sector," said Giorgio Budiarto, Forest and Climate Change Program Manager (ICEL)

The Indonesian civil society coalition urges the government to act quickly to put clear policy instruments in place to strengthen, implement and enforce the moratorium in its remaining 21 months in order to protect and restore Indonesia`s remaining forests.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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