Wetlands International welcomes the extension of Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions signed on the 13th May by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The extension, however, fails to address the shortcomings of the previous moratorium.
The long-awaited extension of the original moratorium, which halted the issuing of new concession licenses for Indonesia’s forests between May 2011 and May 2013, has been signed just in time to avoid a regulatory vacuum between both moratoria, which apply to carbon-rich areas, such as forests and peatlands. The extension will also be valid for a period of 2 years.
Wetlands International strongly welcomes this demonstration of the Government of Indonesia’s willingness to further protect its forests and peatlands from conversion. Nevertheless, it is rather disappointing that major loopholes have remained unaddressed.
Among the shortcomings of the moratoria is the fact that existing concessions are not covered, meaning that peatlands currently under drainage will continue to subside and emit large amounts of CO2. Existing concession licenses which have been approved in principle will not be revoked. Furthermore, projects considered to be strategic for national development (such as oil and gas extraction and rice cultivation) may still acquire concession licenses for areas under the moratorium.
A specific issue in the case of peatlands is that areas covered by the moratorium might still be impacted by drainage of adjacent existing concessions.
Wetlands International promotes the sustainable management of peat landscapes, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt peat soil subsidence. Subsidence results from the drainage of peatlands and can lead to flooding that over time will affect thousands of kilometres of coasts and lowland areas, impacting productivity of millions of hectares of land and their function as carbon stores. We work with governments and industry to promote the wise use of peatlands, including through concession swaps, paludiculture development and adapted management of existing palm oil and pulp wood plantations.
On the 16th of May 2013, Wetlands International Indonesia and the Ministry of Environment of Indonesia are jointly organising a meeting with government, industry and NGO representatives to evaluate the 2011-2013 moratorium and provide recommendations and lessons learned for the implementation of the extended moratorium.