2016-05-20

Proposals for conversion of forest 12 times the size of Singapore into palm oil plantations rejected


JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The licensing process for state forest areas dominated by good forest cover - 12 times the size of Singapore - which dozens of companies have proposed for conversion into palm oil plantations has been stopped by Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment and Forestry.

This move represents a concrete follow-up to the announcement made by President Joko Widodo in mid-April of a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil and mining.

We have rejected and terminated the licensing process for all new palm oil plantations submitted by 61 companies for an area of more than 851 thousand hectares. This is the result of the first round of the review we are conducting," Professor San Afri Awang, the Director-General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance at the ministry, told foresthints.news on Thursday (May 19).

The Director-General added that all the areas for which the licensing process had been terminated were convertible production forest areas in the provinces of Papua, West Papua and Central Kalimantan, situated outside the existing moratorium map.

"Our minister, Ibu Siti Nurbaya, has given her approval to this termination of the licensing process for all new palm oil plantations, and this represents the first step in the implementation of the palm oil expansion moratorium," the Director-General elaborated.

He explained that the decision reflected the fact that the ministry is showing substantial leadership in making the moratorium on palm oil expansion effective.

We are bringing the Presidents directive on a palm oil expansion moratorium to fruition as best we can, Professor Awang continued.

He went on to say that the second round of the review was still underway, and certainly would involve the termination of the licensing process for hundreds of thousands of additional hectares lying outside the existing moratorium map.

"Just like the more than 851 thousand hectares that we have mapped as moratorium areas outside the existing moratorium map, the second round of the review is certain to produce similar results, the Director-General explained.

Legal basis for the moratorium

Professor Awang pointed out that a legal basis for the moratorium on the expansion of palm oil and mining would soon be underpinned by a specific Presidential Instruction.

"This is in the finalization process, he said.

The Director-General went even further, making a bold statement that a ministerial regulation will come into force governing technical guidance with respect to bolstering environmental and forestry governance in support of the moratorium on the expansion of palm oil and mining.