Forest Moratorium Map Inaccurate: Govt

Source : Jakarta Post
Juni 03, 2011
By Adianto P. Simamora

The government said on Wednesday that its claim that the forestry permit moratorium would cover about 64 million hectares of primary forest was inaccurate, as that figure resulted from remote imagery. Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto clarified that it did not mean the government had deliberately manipulated the figure, saying rather that it was the latest data it could retrieve from Landsat satellite imagery. “The accuracy is not essential for an indicative map [on the forest moratorium],” he told The Jakarta Post. “We will revise it [the map] every six months, if there are findings with scientific proof.”

The accuracy of the forest area measured by Landsat imagery depended on several factors, including cloud density during the measurement. “We can’t do anything if the forest area is totally covered by clouds,” ministry spokesman Masyhud added. He said that a clear sky coupled with a field check were needed to get the exact forest area, including the primary forest.

An analysis by Greenomics Indonesia activists found that nine blocks claimed as primary forest in the government’s indicative map had been categorized as
secondary forest, such as in Sumatra and Kalimantan. “The presidential decree [on the moratorium] seems to ‘mark up’ the total area of primary forest and
conservation area,” Greenomics executive director Elfian Effendi told the Post.

Greenomics asked the government to explain the accuracy of the map, as it would affect the credibility of the presidential decree. “Inaccurate forest data is subject to lawsuits,” he said. Greenomics’ analysis based on the forest data issued by the Forestry Ministry found that the secondary forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan were still claimed by the government as conservation and primary forests. “Such claims could mislead the public. The government should transparently disclose to the
public the total hectares of remaining natural forest and their location in Indonesia,” he said.

The Forestry Ministry’s 2006 data showed the remaining natural forest in conservation areas was 53 percent, while secondary forests and idle land were 42 percent. “It was the forest conditions five years ago. The current conditions will of course be far more depleted,” Elfian said. President Yudhoyono issued the decree to suspend new permits to convert natural forest and peatland within two years. The President’s special staff on climate change, Agus Purnomo, claimed that the moratorium would affect some 64 million hectares of natural forest, or three times the total area of Great Britain.

In addition, new permits would also be banned on some 20 million hectares of peatland across the country. The scale of the indicative map of the forestmoratorium is 1:19 million. The Forestry Ministry said it would soon publish the country’s forest data with on a 1:250,000-scale map, and the data would be distributed to the local administrations. “We have prepared the 1:250,000-scale [forest map] and it has been signed by Forestry Minister [Zulkifli Hasan],” Hadi said. Activists have long complained of poor forestry data in Indonesia. The ministry claimed last year that Indonesia’s forest area was currently 136 million hectares, an increase from the previous 120 million hectares.

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