Friday, 22 January 2010

Hatta rejects plan to mine in protected forests

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 01/21/2010

Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta rejected a plan to permit mining companies to operate in protected and conservation forests as stipulated in a draft amendment of the 1990 Conservation Law.

Hatta argued the plan ran counter to the government’s vow to cut deforestation and forest degradation to fight climate change.

“We believe the revision doesn’t take the right approach,” he said in his first press conference Thursday.

“We believe [mining] firms should n’t operate in conservation areas.”

Hatta, a professor in forestry at Lambung Mangkurat University in South Kalimantan, said he also rejected a draft article on a land swap system allowing firms to substitute each hectare they take in conservation areas with those in other areas.

“The problem is that if conservation areas are located in river basins, [the swap] would not resolve environment issues,” he said.

The amendment was proposed by the ministry as protected and conservation forests contain many mineral resources and geothermal sites.

The ministry said 70 percent of geothermal sites are located in conservation forests.