Thursday, 28 January 2010

Ecotourism exempted from Amdal permit

Ecotourism exempted from Amdal permit

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 01/28/2010

Investors can now develop a conservation forest into an ecotourist destination without carrying out a study on its impact on the environment, as part of the government’s latest policy to relax bureaucracy.

The decision was made when many conservation forests were converted into palm oil plantations or mining fields, as had occurred in Kalimantan.

The Forestry Ministry and State Environment Ministry agreed to revise the 1990 government regulation on tourism in an effort to lure investors to develop ecotourism across the country.

“We agree to drop the requirement for Amdal documents for investors who are interested in developing ecotourism in conservation forests,” Darori, director general of forest protection at the Forestry Ministry told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The revised government regulation is due this month.

He said that the money generated from the business would be used to fund conserving forests and help improve locals’ income.

Darori said that developers were prohibited from building infrastructure and other facilities that would damage the environment.

“There will be no asphalt roads and cement buildings in the ecotourism sites,” he said.

The permits to transform the conservation forest into ecotourist sites were issued by the Forestry Ministry.

The authority to issue the Amdal document, which was aimed to assess whether activities could harm the environment, lies with the State Environment Ministry.

Deputy for spatial planning at the State Environment Ministry Hermien Rosita said that ecotourism would not harm the environment.

“Our assessment shows there is no significant impact and that’s why we agreed to drop the Amdal requirement,” she told the Post.

She said that developers should instead implement the environmental management scheme (UKL) and the environmental monitoring scheme (UPL).

The 2009 Environmental Law requires that each business obliging to secure the UKL/UPL should secure the environmental permit issued by the State Environment Ministry.

The decision to ease the regulations on ecotourism was also made as the State Environment Ministry promised to tighten the Amdal process to prevent further environmental degradation in the country, often blamed for major natural disasters.

Almost all forested provinces in the country have suffered annual floods in the wet season and water crisis in the dry season. Experts blamed the problem on poor forest management.

The 1990 regulation stipulates the ecotourist sites be developed by cooperatives, individuals, the private sector or the government, with a total renting period of 30 years.