Deforestation in Indonesia continues, despite the moratorium

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Deforestation in Indonesia continues, despite the moratorium

Five million hectares of forest has been removed from Indonesia’s moratorium in the 12 months since the President announced a two year moratorium on new forest concessions, according to Greenpeace.

The Jakarta Globe reports that at a press conference yesterday, Kiki Taufik, a geographical information specialist with Greenpeace Indonesia, said that the five million hectares were not included in the moratorium maps. 1.9 million hectares of forest was removed from Kalimantan and 1.7 million hectares in Papua.

Kiki explained that the areas of forest were not protected because their status was not clear. Deforestation continues in Indonesia. The Jakarta Globe quoted Kiki as saying that,

“In Kalimantan, most of the destroyed forest was in regions where coal concessions were already granted. In Papua, the forest was cut down under pre-existing logging concessions.”

There are many problems with the moratorium, which have been pointed out in previous posts on REDD-Monitor. It doesn’t apply to existing concessions. It doesn’t apply to secondary forest. It’s not legally binding. There are a series of loopholes. It is limited to two years (rather than being performance based). But the worst thing about the moratorium is that it is not reducing deforestation.

The inadequacy of the moratorium was illustrated earlier this week when the Jakarta Post reported that 115 companies have carried out illegal mining operations on an area of almost 500,000 hectares, according to a Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report dated January 2012.

Greenomics Indonesia points out that BPK also found illegal operations in the palm oil sector. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global even owns shares the Malaysia-based KLK Group that owns one of the companies found to be operating illegally. Investigators from the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak caught the company, PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana, bulldozing forest on the same day that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the Presidential Decree bringing the moratorium into force. (Greenomics Indonesia’s press release is below.)

In an interview with REDD-Monitor in March 2012, Bustar Maitar of Greenpeace said that,

“[T]he Government of Norway is not really “pushing” the Indonesian government to follow what it already agreed in the LoI [Letter of Intent]. The Government of Norway is playing wait and see, but I believe that they realise there is a risk if they do not say something, because the Norwegian Government is playing a key role to address the deforestation issue and to support the REDD initiative, not only in Indonesia but around the globe. If the Government of Norway is not really standing up on this issue in Indonesia, then they will risk their credibility.

Norway is not only failing to push the Indonesian government it is investing in a company that is illegally destroying Indonesia’s forests. Any credibility that Norway may once have had is surely long since gone.

Greenomics Indonesia Press Release:

Moratorium Promoter Norway holds shares in company suspected of serious forestry law violations

PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana’s illegal land-clearing operations have inflicted losses of USD2.67 million

(Jakarta, 27 April 2007) – In mid June 2011, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Indonesian NGO Telapak revealed violations of the moratorium involving the granting of licenses covering natural forest and peatland to PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana (MJSP). The parent company of MJSP, a palm plantation company operating in Central Kalimantan Province, is owned by Malaysia-based Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK Group).

Central Kalimantan Province is host to the first pilot project under the LoI between Indonesia and Norway for the implementation of REDD+. The government of Norway itself, through the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has shares in the KLK Group.

In this regard, Greenomics Indonesia feels it necessary to highlight the latest audit report (dated 13 January 2012) from the Indonesian State Audit Board (BPK-RI), which reveals that MJSP conducted land-clearing operations without a Timber Use License and a license from the Minister of Forestry, considering that the company’s concession is located in an area officially designated as forest area.

The said BPK audit report states is based on the results of an overlay of the MJSP concession area using three forest area maps simultaneously. The three maps are the 1982 Central Kalimantan Forest Area Map (TGHK), the 2003 Central Kalimantan Provincial Spatial Plan Map (RTRWP), and the 2011 Central Kalimantan Provincial Forest Area Map (The Forestry Ministry Map).

The BPK report revealed that 3,826.92 hectares of the MJSP concession are actually designated as forest areas according to the 2003 Central Kalimantan Provincial Spatial Plan Map.

Of the said 3,826.92 hectares, 1,972.65 hectares have already been opened up. This figure excludes the parts of the MJSP concession that are designated as forestland according to the 2011 Central Kalimantan Provincial Forest Area Map, the area of which forest area extends to 7,400 hectares.

The BPK audit report states that MJSP has a Plantation Operating License (IUP) that was issued on 13 February 2007.

According to the BPK report, MJSP’s illegal land-clearing operations have inflicted losses of USD2.67 million.

The BPK report also stated that it had uncovered prima facie evidence of forestry crimes that had inflicted losses upon the state and had to be brought to the attention of the law enforcement agencies.

Greenomics Indonesia would ask the government of Norway to carefully study the BPK report, bearing in mind that law enforcement is one of the principal pillars on which the Indonesia-Norway LoI is predicated.

In addition, the government of Norway should make public what it proposes to do about its investment in the KLK Group, of which MJSP is a member, in the light of the BPK report, bearing in mind that it also states that PT Mulia Agro Permai, another KLK Group company, is guilty of forestry crimes as its concession is located in an areas that is officially designated as forest areas.

Greenomics Indonesia would also ask the Indonesian REDD+ Taskforce to respond in a timely fashion to the BPK audit report in a firm, concrete and transparent manner. This is essential if confidence in the Indonesia-Norway LoI is to be maintained, and for showing that law enforcement is not just one of the main pillars of the LoI on paper, but also on the ground.


UPDATE – 4 May 2012: The first three paragraphs were re-written to clarify that the 5 million hectares were removed from the moratorium maps and not necessarily destroyed (at least not yet).

PHOTO Credit: Eyes on the Forest.

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5 Comments

  1. Dr Nigel Miles

    Satellite photography can determine the loss down to a resolution of 250 meters.

    To all intents and purposes it is about time that the United Nations take a deeper and more urgent role in this situation both in South East Asia, Latin America and Tropical Africa.

    It was hoped that those working with the newly formed Intergovernmental (Scientific) Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services within UNEP would have by now issued actions for the UN Security Council on thess most serious of issues. Presumably there are few of us working in this field who can understand the real value of future civilised life when the value of resources is degraded by this deforestation debacle.

  2. I totally agree with the fundamental flaws in the moratorium, but I suspect the figures for deforestation in the last year are a misquote by the Jakarta Globe of what the guy from Greenpeace said. There is no way Indonesia lost 5 million ha of forest in the last 12 mths. What I think he was trying to say was that 5 million ha of forest were excluded from the moratorium and are therefore at continued risk of being lost.

  3. Indeed, Mr Lawson is correct. 5 million hectares has not been cleared in a year. It has just been left out of the moratorium.

    The idea that the moratorium would “reduce deforestation” during its lifetime was never going to happen. The government excluded enough forest in its first iteration so as to keep every bulldozer in the country busy for the duration. Where it MIGHT reduce deforestation is in the future – but only if the rest of the terms of the LoI with Norway are adhered to. This means doing the so called “degraded land database” – which might be able to inform the land-swap mechanism that is supposed to avoid new plantations expansion into forest areas.

    However that the Indonesian government limited the moratorium map to cover only Primary forest, and not “natural forest” is an indication that even this opportunity will likely be intentionally missed. The clear danger being that “secondary” forest is in the future classified as “degraded lands” and all made available for conversion. If that occurs, there would have been no land swap, no reduction in deforestation, and the whole thing would be a waste of time. The moratorium is merely a breathing space. If the Indonesian government does not demonstrate policy reform within the year, the only thing we will all be breathing after its expiry is the palls of smoke form illegal forest fires, as plantations expansion booms once more.

    Don’t hold your breath – there is no evidence in history of Indonesian showing any intent to reign in its deforestation.

  4. @Sam Lawson (#2) & @Papua Forest Eye (#3) – Thanks for the comments. I think you’re probably right. Five million hectares would be a significant increase in the rate of deforestation in Indonesia. The key word in the Jakarta Globe article is “may”:

    Indonesia may have lost a staggering five million hectares of forest since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a two year moratorium on deforestation last year, Greenpeace Indonesia said on Thursday.”

    I’ve re-written the first three paragraphs to make clear that the five million hectares of forest have been removed from the moratorium maps.

  5. Surely, if the five million hectares has been removed from the area covered by the moratorium it is precisely because it is intended to plant palm oil, or other crops on it – so if it hasn’t been deforested yet, then it probably soon will be.

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