Indonesia signs moratorium on permits for primary forest clearing

Updated On: May 20, 2011

The moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests signed by Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhyono on Thursday, 19 May 2011 is part of a $1 billion climate deal with Norway that could possibly be the first step to cutting emissions and slowing expansions of plantations.

Report: Indonesia finally signs forest clearing moratorium [Reuters, 19 May 2011]

Indonesia is often cited as the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, mainly as a result of clearing forests for pulp or to make way for oil palm plantations. The clearing of forests has also seen haze as the effects of forest fires affecting nearby countries like Singapore.

Report: Indonesia signs long awaited forestry moratorium [ChannelNewsAsia, 19 May 2011]

The moratorium, delayed by five months from a planned January start, ordered a freeze on new permits to log or convert primary forests and peatlands. Palm oil, timber and mining firms in Southeast Asia's biggest economy are definitely worried about this, but others are concerned that the moratorium does not reach a wide enough target group.

In addition to excluding projects to develop energy such as geothermal, gas and power plants, as well as plantations for rice and sugar, the moratorium is also targeted only at primary forests and current permits are still usable by the affected firms.

Report: Indonesia forest moratorium excludes permit extensions, energy projects [Reuters, 20 May 2011]

In the five months the moratorium was delayed, there had been a bout of uncertainty about whether it was going to be signed at all. Uncertainty had led to expansion in 2010 of 300,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in the world's top palm oil producing nation, reduced from a minimum 500,000 hectares in recent years.

"The two-year moratorium is an opportunity to review and strengthen Indonesia's policies such as land reconciliation and greenhouse gas measurements," said Daud Dharsono, chief executive of SMART, one of the largest integrated palm based consumer companies in Indonesia, adding he supported the moratorium.

Report, background & analysis: Indonesia Forest Moratorium to Reduce Uncertainty for Planters [Reuters, 20 May 2011]