2016-06-01

Peat agency lacks the guts to deal with pulpwood concessions, according to head of CSO concessions


JAKARTA
(foresthints.news) - All the peat domes located in pulpwood concessions, in particular in Sumatra's Riau province, have to be incorporated into protection zones. Peat domes must be legally protected, while the peatland landscape, of which they form an intact and integral part, also needs to be restored immediately.

In light of this, not only must the replanting of acacia in peat domes found in pulpwood concessions be prohibited, but so too must the harvesting of acacia in these peat domes.

As such, harvesting permits for acacia located in peat domes must not be given as the planting of this species - which serves as the raw material for the pulp and paper industry - in peat domes constitutes a violation of Indonesia’s laws and regulations.

These were the views voiced by Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of WALHI Riau - Friends of the Earth Indonesia - in an interview with foresthints.news on Tuesday (31 May).

Riko appealed for an immediate audit of all existing permits of pulpwood concessions, especially those whose acacia plantations are located in peat domes. Once this audit is complete, he continued, a decision can be made as to how the harvesting of acacia-planted blocks situated in peat domes should be approached in a legal sense.

He elaborated on peat restoration efforts at the landscape level, urging that not only must acacia plantations in peat domes be rewet, but so too must all peatlands in pulpwood concessions in which acacia has been planted. This, he reasoned, would enable peatlands planted with acacia to be restored to their original ecological condition for the purposes of peat protection in the future.

From his point of view, the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency isn’t bold enough to take action against the concession areas, most notably pulpwood and palm oil concessions, as part of its current peat restoration efforts.

Riko was not reluctant whatsoever to express these and various other significant opinions during the interview with foresthints.news.

For example, he also emphasized that it was essential for the peat agency to play a real role in encouraging the relevant government agencies to ensure that a law enforcement process is in place to deal with the utilization of peat domes, as legally peat domes are not supposed to be used at all.

“This law enforcement process could be initiated by advocating that a comprehensive audit be performed on existing permits operating in peat domes. The principal objective of this would be to expedite the restoration of these peat domes, particularly those spread among pulpwood concessions.”

Riko reiterated, however, that the peat agency lacks the courage to tackle such issues, which would inevitably end up exposing the involvement of pulpwood and palm oil concessions in the exploitation of peat domes.

He ended the interview with a damning assessment of the peat restoration agency. “We have seen consistently that the peat agency doesn’t have the guts to deal with these matters. As a result, it prefers to focus on peat restoration efforts outside of the concession areas.”