Jakarta (Antara News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono finally on May 13, 2013 signed Presidential Instruction No. 6/2013 on Suspension of Granting of New Licenses and Improvement of Governance of Natural Primary Forest and Peat Land for another two years, until 2015.

The extension of moratorium on deforestation demonstrates the president`s commitment to the protection of forest and peat land including mangrove forests which are still in good condition.

Speaking in a Conference on Indonesian Forests organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)in Jakarta, on September 27, 2011, the president stated: "I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as President to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia."

The first Presidential Instruction No. 10/2010 on forest moratorium was addressed to the forestry minister, the home affairs minister, the environmental affairs minister, the head of the Presidential Work Unit on Monitoring and Controlling Development (UKP4), the chairman of the National Agrarian Agency (BPN), the head of the National Spatial Planning Coordinating Board (BKPRN), the head of the Indonesian National Coordinating Agency for Surveys and Mapping (Bakosurtanal), the head of the task force for Preparing the Establishment of REDD Institution, governors and district heads as well as mayors.

The regulation emphasized on three main tasks, namely improvement of forest and peat land governance, license reviewing, and the creation of one Indonesia`s forest map.

Of the three tasks, one has been implemented, namely the issuance of indicative map of new license suspension (PIPIB), and in fact, the existing forest map has been revised three times with the inputs from the public.

Meanwhile, of five tasks instructed to the forestry minister, two have not been implemented fully.

The tasks are respectively on improving governance policies on forest use license and forest product utilization; and increasing the effectiveness of critical land management by focusing on forest and peat land governance, among other things through ecosystem rehabilitation.

Considering that, it is understandable if various parties, in particular NGOs, had urged the government to extend the moratorium.

Deforestation and gas emission

Despite the problems, several positive achievements have been reached over the last two years of the moratorium implementation, such as the decrease in gas emission and deforestation rates.

The forestry ministry has claimed a significant drop in the deforestation rate.

"During 1996-2003, the deforestation rate was 3.5 million ha per year. But now, it has dropped to 450,000 ha annually. It means that the deforestation is only 15 percent," he said in a seminar on forest moratorium organized by New Perspective Foundation in Jakarta recently.

The forest moratorium policy has become the implementation of REDD strategies, according to the forestry minister.

The greenhouse gas emission absorption particularly from forest and peat land up to late 2012 reached 489,000 million tons of CO2e or equivalent to 16.57 percent of the 26 percent target by 2020.

The moratorium policy did not affect investment in the forestry sector, in fact Indonesia`s economy grew at 6.3 percent in 2012. Investment in the forestry sector still could be carried out in critical land.

The forestry minister said his office and related ministries/institutions as well as regional governments must improve forest governance, including by providing online services for licensing, public complaints, land claim conflicts, budgeting, implementation and supervision.

In the seminar, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) expressed its support to the preservation of protected and conserved forests. The palm oil businessmen also supported the legal enforcement by the government and the creation of one Indonesia`s forest map.

However, in various occasions, Gapki refused the idea to extend the forest moratorium policy if it would be implemented without logical explanations and reasons.

The main objective of the presidential instruction on forest moratorium is to maintain the country`s forest coverage, and if possible to increase the coverage.

It was worried that when the Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 10/2011 on two-year moratorium expires on May 20, 2013, the authorities would immediately issue new licenses which have been postponed so far. Issuance of new licenses would increase the deforestation rate which has been decreased so far.

Therefore, it is necessary to extend the moratorium policy without giving a time gap, so the forest governance and licensing process could be improved consistently.

The provincial and district administrations are expected to help protect the country`s forests in accordance with the commitment of the central government.

With the issuance of the new presidential instruction extending the moratorium policy, all government officials at the central as well as local administrations, must help protect the remaining forests by not issuing forest concession licenses in primary forests nor for spatial plannings in regions, including in Aceh.

President Yudhoyono has stated Indonesia`s forests and biodiversity must be protected for the nation`s future generation. ***4***
(*deputy to president`s special staff assistant on climate change)
(T.SYS/A/F001/B003) 16-05-2013 16:52:58

Reporter: by nur r fajar*
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2013