Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya confirmed that as a follow up to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s directive, the entire process for the issuance of new palm oil permits under her authority had ended.
“I have put a stop to the entire process for the issuance of new permits for palm oil expansion under my authority, from A to Z. This is a concrete proof that we are following up President Jokowi’s directive,” she told foresthints.news, as quoted by Greenomics Indonesia.
The environment and forestry minister has the authority to release convertible production forests located in state forest areas for development purposes outside the forestry sector, such as for palm oil plantations.
Commenting on existing palm oil permits outside the state forest areas, Siti said the government was discussing the steps it needed to take in reviewing the permits. She asserted that any reviews must be conducted together with relevant ministries and local governments, particularly in the case of concessions, which retained good forest cover.
Citing an example, the minister said millions of hectares of state forests in Papua and West Papua could be qualified as convertible production forest, in which they fell outside the existing moratorium map. Thus, the forests could be legally released for development purposes, including for palm oil, she added.
“We are applying the moratorium on new palm oil permits in those millions of hectares even though the area falls outside the existing moratorium map. I have already given the order to stop issuing new permits for palm oil in convertible production forests. The authority for this rests with me,” Siti said.
The minister further said President Jokowi was really worried about the ongoing palm oil expansion, which involved the opening up of forests with intact forest cover on a massive scale. This was especially the case in Papua, the majority of which was home to intact forests, she said. Therefore, the whole issue needed to be reviewed at the national level while at the same time, a moratorium needed to be imposed on palm oil expansion in areas throughout Indonesia, she added.
Siti further said a presidential regulation was being prepared to form the legal basis for the palm oil and mining expansion moratorium.
“The President has asked me to prepare the legal basis for the moratorium, which demonstrates how serious he is about the issue. Now we are in the process of drafting a presidential regulation as a legal back up to the President’s directive to the palm oil and mining expansion moratorium,” the minister said. (ebf)
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