NGOs call for extension of forest moratorium

NGOs call for extension of forest moratorium

A number of NGOs in Jambi have called for the logging moratorium that has applied since 2010 and which is due to end on May 15 to be extended for the sake of forest conservation.

"If the moratorium is allowed to lapse, peatlands will be the first to be endangered as their status is neither protected forest nor national park," spokesperson of the Jambi branch of the Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI Warsi), Rudi Syaf, said on Thursday.

Rudi argued that even when the moratorium was still in place, many violations endangering forests were still committed.

He said that unless the moratorium was extended a number of forests in the province would be endangered since forests in Jambi had been targeted for investment in production forests (HTI) and oil palm plantations.

He added that most of the areas in Jambi included in the moratorium were protected forests, national parks and other conservation areas such as the 160,000 hectares of peat land spread across the regencies of Muaro Jambi, West Tanjung Jabung and East Tanjung Jabung.

The moratorium, according to Rudi, should have been longer, for at least 20 to 30 years to give nature sufficient time to recover.

Efforts such as expanding customary forests in Jambi, Rudi said, were not comparable to the high rate of deforestation in the region, as more and more companies arrived in the province.

Minimal efforts through customary forests could only yield 3,000 hectares at a maximum in Lubuk Beringin, Bungo regency.

At the provincial level the figure is 49,000 hectares. "It's nothing compared to the expansion that the companies are making, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of hectares," Rudi said.

Separately, Ferry Irawan of the Green Association said that the ending of the moratorium was made worse by the government's policy on bio-fuels as this could trigger a massive expansion of oil palm plantations, leading to widespread conversion of forests.

"This policy is dangerous for forests, especially in Jambi, which is a target [for investment in the sector]," Ferry said.

The policy, according to Ferry, would also disadvantage farmers as only certified palm oil firms would be able to enter the market.

He therefore expressed strong opposition to the policy and urged that the moratorium be extended.

This despite the fact that even when the moratorium was in place, many oil palm plantations were established in restricted areas.

"Of the 1.5 million hectares of forest included in the moratorium, half has been converted," he said.

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