Source : Jakarta Globe
May 26 2011
By Dessy Sagita
The government on Thursday countered claims by environmental activists that the recent two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests and carbon-rich peatland was too flawed to preserve the country’s forests. Speaking at a discussion on the moratorium, Yani Saloh, a presidential adviser for climate change, said: “This moratorium is a breakthrough. We’ve had six presidents, and this is the president who has the courage to actually do it.”
Since the long-awaited moratorium was announced last week, environmental activists have been voicing their disappointment to what they perceive as a weak and unclear regulation. Critics have said the ban covers too little of the country’s forests and should have included existing logging concessions. Teguh Surya, head of climate justice at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said at the discussion that the moratorium lacked a strong legal basis to curb logging practices. “What we need is a law. A more comprehensive regulation with a wider impact,” he said.
Yani said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decided to announce the moratorium in the form of a presidential instruction because a law would have taken too long to ratify. “A law would have to be deliberated at the House of Representatives; the process can take a very long time. By the time the law is passed, our forests would be gone,” she said. Yani said she was also aware most criticisms were over the fact that the moratorium only covered primary forests and peatland, already under some legal protections.
A map attached to the moratorium documents shows that 64.2 million hectares of primary forest and 31.9 million hectares of peatland were covered, but not 36.6 million hectares of secondary forest. Primary forests are untouched by agriculture or industry, secondary forests are areas already partially cleared for agricultural or industrial use. “This two-year moratorium is our opportunity to restore the damaged secondary forest,” Yani said. “Protecting 64.2 million hectares of primary forest means something, don’t say it means nothing.”
Yakob Isadami, a staffer for Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, said that Aceh was ahead of the central government in implementing a moratorium on forest clearing due to rampant illegal logging there. Aceh implemented the moratorium in 2007. Transtoto Handadhari, vice chairman of the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association (PAHI), said the organization was satisfied with the moratorium because it had accommodated most input given by the members. “We will support the instruction as long as the implementation is fair and proper,” he said.