Walhi urges govt to extend forest moratorium

Walhi urges govt to extend forest moratorium

"There have been more than enough, or even to many permits on active mining."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) urged the Indonesian Government to extend the forest moratorium, which will expire in May 2013, to prevent social and environmental conflict in the future.

"If the moratorium is not extended, we are certain in the next five years, social and environmental conflict would rise in the 25 million hectares of Indonesian forest area," Forest and Large Scale Plantation Campaign Manager of Walhi Zenzi Suhadi said here Wednesday.

Therefore, the moratorium on primary forest and peat land should be extended and strengthened, Suhadi said.

"Not only by suspending the forest concession, but also improving the management of forest area and concession as well as determining the penalties against the violating institutions," Suhadi said.

Suhadi said the moratorium, regulated in presidential decree no.11/2011, had not been effectively conducted as the Forum found some attempts of local administrations and authorities to deceive the moratorium by proposing concession for residential area.

"The government should accommodate and validate the basis of such concession proposal as there are many of them, agreed for residential area, turned into plantation areas. This is what the government should take notice," Suhadi said.

Walhi also suggested the government and the Ministry of Forestry to have discussion with local communities inhabiting the forest area as there were so many mutual social and culture dependence in such place.

"Government should view the Natural Resource as the national`s and citizens` priceless asset, not to put itself as a tax collector for private enterprises which exploit the Indonesian forest," Suhadi said.

Or else, there would come into surface a phenomena of increasing social income without accompanied by improving social welfare because the local people will have to pay for what they can get freely from the forest, he said.

Previously on Tuesday, The Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) National Strategy Working Unit also urged the Indonesia Government to extend the forest moratorium.

The extended period would be used to finish the mapping in 11 prioritized provinces in the REDD+ program, Spokesperson of REDD+ Mubariq Ahmad said.

Mubariq Ahmad said the government and oil palm plantation enterprises would not be handicapped by the moratorium extension as it would not hamper the economic growth of the oil palm and mining sectors.

"There have been more than enough, or even to many permits on active mining. On the other hand, there are four hectares of new oil palm plantation that would not be fully planted until the next 10 year. So, there is no reason that the moratorium extension would be economically disadvantageous," he said.

The only reason for enterprises to worry about the extension on moratorium was the incapability to expand oil palm plantation area if the moratorium imposed for the next years ahead, he said.

However, the moratorium should not be considered as an anti-oil-palm action. The oil palm sectors, in other hand, yielded a great amount of national income and provide a lot of work opportunities contributing to reduce poverty rate, he said.
(Uu.A059/A014)

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