May 19, 2011
Indonesia on Friday banned logging in primary forests and peatlands for two years as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, officials said. But environmentalists doubted whether the long-awaited moratorium would protect any significant areas of forest that were not already protected, or make any reductions to the massive archipelago’s carbon footprint. “It still creates potential for Indonesia to destroy its natural forests,” said Elfian Effendi, executive director of policy analysis group Greenomics.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree authorising the moratorium late Thursday but its details were released on Friday, a year after he secured financial backing for the plan during talks in Oslo. Presidential advisor on climate change Agus Purnomo told reporters the moratorium would cover primary forests and peatlands but not natural forests as environmental groups such as Greenpeace had hoped.
Logging would be banned in “forests that haven’t been touched by humans and where there has been no concession activity before,” he said. “With the two-year moratorium, the government will have the time to improve permits, standardisation and other things that can be developed in the context of emissions reduction from deforestation and use of peatlands,” Purnomo said.
The ban on new logging concessions — valuable assets for pulp, paper and palm oil companies — applies to 64.02 million hectares (158.2 million acres) of primary forests and 24.5 million hectares of peatland, he said. An official statement said the moratorium was “intended to balance and harmonise economic development with social development, cultural promotion and environmental protection”.
It was part of a “comprehensive national effort” to combat climate change through a UN-backed scheme known as Reducing Emissions fromDeforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). REDD promises to arrest the release of greenhouse gases from the destruction of forests and carbon-dense peatlands by having rich nations pay emerging countries to preserve their jungles and woodlands.