Civil society coalition pushes government to finally halt logging permits

The Jakarta Globe: October 15, 2010: Fidelis E. Satriastanti & Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Ten civil-society groups, including Greenpeace, have called on the government to get serious about implementing a moratorium on issuing new logging concessions in critical areas.

The proposed two-year moratorium, set to begin in 2011, was announced earlier this year by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as part of a deal with Norway to fund UN-sponsored
emissions-reduction (REDD) schemes in the forestry sector.

Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said on Thursday that the moratorium offered a golden opportunity to suspend the devastation of IndonesiaÆs forests.

“We need to use the moratorium to engage public participation, proper research and look at all the alternatives, and also look at it in terms of the future of the palm oil industry,” he said.

“In terms of REDD and REDD Plus, there’s a danger that if we don’t use the moratorium period to actually agree on procedures on transparency, then resources from REDD Plus” could be lost.

Naidoo said that while Indonesia had reasonably good forest conservation laws, the problem was in enforcement.

“The inability of the government to police such massive areas allows a lot of loopholes to be exploited [by] certain industries,” he said.

Bambang Sukmananto, a senior Forestry Ministry official, said his office was keen to work alongside groups such as Greenpeace, which he said could not resolve the issues of deforestation by themselves.

“We’re after the same goal, but we have different points of view,” he said. “For us, it’s more than just the environmental issue. We also need to consider the economic impact.”

Meanwhile, Pramono Anung, a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, backed Greenpeace’s call for the government to make the best use of the moratorium period, and said more attention ought to be paid to environmental issues.

Speaking after the meeting with Greenpeace, Pramono said the House shared the same concern that Indonesian forests should be conserved.

“We agree with Greenpeace that special attention must be given to the forest moratorium in Riau and Kalimantan,” he said.

He added that the government must also tighten its supervision of the mining sector to minimize environmental damage from prospecting and mining.

Pramono also addressed complaints by Greenpeace that port authorities had denied the group’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, entry into Indonesia.

The ship was supposed to dock at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta, but was turned away.

“I believe the government should have allowed the ship to dock,” Pramono said. “Denying this permission only hurts our country’s standing in the international community.”

He said the purpose of the ship’s visit was to educate Indonesian children about environment issues, so the visit should not have been prevented.


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