Governor may have breached moratorium
The Jakarta Post | National | Tue, 06/05/2012 9:24 AM
JAKARTA: An environmental group has accused Central Kalimantan Governor Agustin Teras Narang of issuing a recommendation for a palm oil company to open a plantation in a primary forest in Pulang Pisau regency, a move that could be in violation of a forest-clearing moratorium agreed upon in a deal signed by the Indonesian and Norwegian governments.
A report from the Central Kalimantan office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) claims that the governor signed on April 23 a recommendation letter to accompany the company’s application to the Forestry Ministry for a logging licence on 6,707 hectares of primary forest.
Such licenses are commonly issued for activities in secondary forests that are designated for production.
“The area is included in the moratorium map so the activity should be deemed illegal,” said Arie Rompas, the director of Walhi Central Kalimantan.
The government signed a bilateral deal with Norway two years ago to halt the issuance of new operational permits for land clearance in primary forests and peatland and to launch a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) system in an effort to curb emissions. If successful, the government could receive up to US$1 billion from Norway as a forest management fund.
Central Kalimantan was chosen as the site for a pilot project to implement the REDD+ system.
One year after the moratorium started, deforestation is still occurring and new licenses are still being issued. The government has revised its initial moratorium map (PIPIB) twice, reducing the protected areas from 70 million hectares last year to 65.2 million hectares last month.
Arie said the Pulang Pisau government had also allegedly issued new operational permits for concessions in protected forests to two oil palm companies.
“These cases show the disregard of the local administrations for the bilateral deal,” he said.
The head of the working group on legal review and law enforcement of the presidential REDD+ task force, Mas Achmad Santosa, said the task force was conducting a preliminary study on the Pulang Pisau case.
“We are closely watching the Pulang Pisau case and will launch an investigation if we find enough evidence,” he said.