Big Donor Norway Welcomes Indonesia’s Forest Plan

Source : Jakarta Globe

May 22, 2011

Norway welcomed on Friday a plan by Indonesia to impose a two-year moratorium on logging in primary forests despite a five-month delay to the deal.

Norway and Indonesia signed an agreement in May last year under which Jakarta promised to impose the moratorium. In return Norway vowed to pay $1 billion in aid, based on Indonesia’s performance in achieving long-term goals to slow deforestation.

“The launch of the moratorium is one important step forward for Indonesia,” Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim said in a statement.

“What Indonesia is embarking on is a very serious development choice. Indonesia’s efforts to combine the goal of 7 percent economic growth with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020 are commendable,” he said.

Some environmentalists have said that the plan fell well short of hopes for protecting forests and peatlands.

The moratorium took effect on Friday after a five-month delay. Indonesia outlined a long list of exemptions to the plan, in a concession to the hard-lobbying plantation industry.

The Norwegian environment ministry said Norway “congratulates Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on signing the two-year suspension for issuance of new licenses for use of primary forest and peat land.”

It said the moratorium would help goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and was “an important part of a broader land use reform agenda in Indonesia, though it will not in itself ensure success.” Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they are burned or rot.

The Norwegian ministry said that setting up a new Indonesian agency for slowing deforestation and monitoring and verifying greenhouse gas emission would be crucial.

“The moratorium is one important part of the puzzle,” it said.

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