The Jakarta Post
Jambi Forestry Agency head Irmansyah Rachman says his office will impose a moratorium on conversion permits for plantations and industrial timber estates (HTI) to address rapid deforestation in the province.
'The moratorium on forest conversions will primarily be conducted in areas that still have primary forest and peatland,' said Irmansyah on Tuesday.
He added that the same moratorium had been instituted under former president Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono but was soon abandoned. Starting this year, he said, his agency would reinstate the moratorium indefinitely.
'Forests in Jambi have been disappearing at an alarming rate this year, reaching 450,000 hectares [ha],' said Irmansyah.
He said the deforestation, which has claimed 20 percent of some 2.2 million ha of forest area in Jambi, occurred in production forests, conservation forests, protected forests and national parks.
Irmansyah added that without the moratorium, deforestation would be difficult to harness.
Separately, Jambi chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) executive director Musri Nauli welcomed the moratorium on primary forests.
He said the moratorium should not apply to community-based farmland, as it could deprive residents of necessary resources.
'It is appropriate if the moratorium is imposed on primary forests, but not on community-based farmland,' he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI Warsi) spokesman Rudi Syaf said the local administration was making the right move by imposing the moratorium, but that it should be expanded in scale.
'The Jambi Forestry Office [Agency] has imposed the moratorium on around 600,000 ha of primary forests, whereas in fact the area could be extended to more than 700,000 ha,' he said.
This, he said, could be done by including intact secondary forests, such as areas around the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, which formerly functioned as forest concession areas. He added that low-lying plains ' habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger ' should also be protected by the moratorium.
Rudi said the provincial administration should be firm in upholding the moratorium, adding that the administration and relevant institutions needed to prioritize law enforcement.
He added it would be important to increase the number of personnel in the areas protected by the moratorium.
'Don't offer the excuse of the limited number of personnel in the field. We deeply appreciate what the government has done, as long as they uphold the moratorium by prioritizing law enforcement,' Rudi said.
Data from the planology directorate general at the Forestry Ministry showed that forest and peatland conversion was the major cause of deforestation in Jambi. In 2013 alone, the ministry recorded the addition of 50,300 ha of open field, 8,400 ha of plantations, 100 ha of housing and 65,700 ha of damaged forests.
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