Two-Year Moratorium Signed in Oslo Not Enough, Green Groups Complain

By Fidelis E Satriastanti

Source : jakartaglobe

4 June 2010

Environment groups are complaining that the government’s approach to the moratorium planned for logging is too little and not clearly defined. (Antara Photo/Gema Setara)

Although Indonesia’s recent commitment to a moratorium on forest concessions has been welcomed, green groups have criticized the government’s flip-flopping on the issue, its short-term vision and lack of enforcement.

Under the agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway in Oslo last week, Indonesia has pledged to stop issuing forestry permits for peatland and primary natural forests between 2011 and 2013.

The agreement sees Norway providing a $1 billion fund for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) schemes in Indonesian forests.

“While the moratorium is a good thing, you have to see this agreement in the context of ongoing international climate talks under way at the same time in which Indonesia’s position on a moratorium and indigenous people’s rights was never very clear,” Steni Bernard, REDD coordinator at the Climate Society Forum for Climate Justice, said on Friday.

The meeting he was referring to was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change gathering in Bonn, Germany, which was held right after the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, where the letter of intent was signed.

Steni said that at the UN talks, Indonesia did not mention targets for reducing deforestation, instead focusing on carbon trading and monitoring systems.

“It seems the government held different positions,” he said. “At the bilateral meeting, they agreed on a moratorium and on the participation of indigenous people. However, at the UN meeting, those two issues never came up.

“These are substantial issues that must be included in Indonesia’s policy to prevent the coordination from getting confused and messy.”

Teguh Surya, head of advocacy at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), agreed the moratorium was a step in the right direction, but called for a longer-term vision by the government.

“The forestry problems won’t go away once the two years are up and there’s no money left,” he said. “The impact from deforestation is very serious and the government needs to focus on the issue.”

He said Walhi had proposed additional recommendations to support the moratorium.

“In addition to not issuing new forestry licenses for peatland and primary forests, the government should focus on the most threatened areas,” Teguh said. “It also must ensure that all expired concessions are no longer being logged.”

Joko Arif, a forest campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said it would take resolute political will to enforce the moratorium.

“Two weeks ago, we spoke with the government and they were adamant the moratorium would not be possible,” he said. “But now they’re very eager for it.

“We have good regulations in place, but the problem is in the implementation. It all goes back to the government’s political will.”

In the affected communities, the reaction has been pragmatic.

“I don’t know anything about REDD,” said villager Deli Saputra, from Kampar district in Riau. “All we ask is that the Indonesian people and the world help us protect our forests.

“Almost all the villagers here depend on the forest for our livelihoods, and if it keeps getting damaged, how are we expected to survive?”