Saturday, 29 May 2010

Greenpeace lauds SBY’s forest, peatland moratorium

Greenpeace lauds SBY’s forest, peatland moratorium

Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Sat, 05/29/2010

Greenpeace praised President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s commitment to a moratorium on forest-and peatland clearance in Indonesia, after he recently concluded negotiations in Oslo for a billion dollar carbon-emission reduction agreement with Norway.

“We expect that he will immediately impose a presidential decree that will stop all forest and peatland conversion and include both existing and new concession permits,” Bustar Maitar, the international environmental group’s Southeast Asia Forest team leader, said in a press release dated Friday.

Yudhoyono had announced his commitment to the two-year moratorium at a joint press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, which was conducted ahead of the signing of the US$1 billion deal between Indonesian and Norwegian governments in Oslo. The program aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
Indonesia has lost more than 60 percent of its natural forests. A two-year moratorium is a great start for Indonesia’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 41 percent, said independent reports.

Greenpeace activist Yuyun Indradi said the commitment must be followed by regulations that would guarantee transparency and development of a participatory mechanism when the moratorium is implemented.

“Regulations must be developed so that funds flow in the right direction, and to safeguard and protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous people,” Indradi said.

Stoltenberg said that funds would be disbursed using the Brazilian model, which finances projects based on progress and results.

Implementation monitoring will be key to verifying if grant money can be disbursed, Stoltenberg added.

Gregorio Budi Indarto from the Civil Society Forum said that no forest concession permits had been issued since Zulkifli Hasan took office as forestry minister at the end of 2009, he told The Jakarta Post.

However, the main question is how can the government stop forest exploitation by thousands of people who were given permits after bribing government officials before Zulkilfi’s tenure, he said.

The two-year moratorium would mean very little without effort to stop illegal exploitation, he added.

“It is one of many political gimmicks offered by the current administration to win the hearts of people and the international community.”

Budi said the public had not yet seen a serious effort from the government to combat illegal logging. Reports show that people arrested for illegal logging have frequently been acquitted or given lenient punishment by district courts. If courts did issue severe judgements, follow-up actions were usually lacking, he said.

Budi cited the case of former Pelalawan regent Tengku Azmun Jaafar, who was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and ordered to pay Rp 500 million ($54,000) in fines after a bribery case regarding illegal forest exploitation permits in Pelalawan, Riau.

Permits issued by Jaafar were not revoked after the regent was sentenced due to government indecisiveness about exploitation, he said.

“Law enforcement stopped at Jaafar’s trial and we haven’t heard that the government has stopped those companies’ operations,” he added.