Indonesia Extends Logging Ban to Protect Rainforest

An aerial picture made available on May 10, 2013 shows a deforested land in Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau on May 04, 2013. (EPA Photo/Bagus Indahono)

An aerial picture made available on May 10, 2013 shows a deforested land in Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau on May 04, 2013. (EPA Photo/Bagus Indahono)

Indonesia has extended a logging ban aimed at protecting rainforest despite fierce industry pressure, the government said Wednesday, although green groups say the move still does not go far enough.

Vast tracts of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago are covered in trees, including some of the world’s most biodiverse tropical rainforest that is home to endangered animals such as orangutans, tigers and elephants.

But swathes have been chopped down by palm oil, mining and timber companies in Southeast Asia’s top economy, which has become the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter as a result.

Under a $1-billion conservation deal with Norway, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono two years ago signed the moratorium, which bans new logging permits for primary, or virgin, forest, defined as forest not logged in recent history.

On Wednesday, the government confirmed Yudhoyono had signed a two–year extension, as had been widely expected, and the moratorium would remain in its original form.

“The extension on the moratorium of new permits will be in place for two years from when the presidential instruction is issued,” said a statement from the cabinet secretariat, which deals with presidential decrees.

Yudhoyono signed the extension on Monday, it said.

The ban applies to new permits for primary forests and peatlands with the exception of projects already approved by the forestry minister and others considered vital, such as for power production, it said.

Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil that is used in many everyday items from soap to biscuits, has faced fierce industry pressure over the moratorium.

“The moratorium has already had negative effects on the economy, not just in the palm oil industry but the timber industry as well,” said Fadhil Hasan from the Indonesian Palm Oil Association.

Green groups have also been highly critical, despite government claims it is reducing the rate of deforestation.

“Companies and local governments have found all sorts of ways to get around the ban,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Zenzi Suhadi said.

Agence France-Presse

  • TimUpham

    “Except projects already approved by the by the forestry ministry.” How many acres of palm oil plantations and timber for the production of disposable paper products. When it comes to tropical deforestation, we still may not be out of the woods yet.

  • Muffinman

    Fadhil Hasan – ARE YOU BLIND ! Somebody ought to send this man a full sized blown up poster of the above picture that accompanies this article ; ‘deforested land in Tesso Nilo National Park’ . A National Park !
    What use is an economy Pak Hasan , if there is no eco-system, including the trees that produce our oxygen, to support it !!?

  • Darren P.

    Palm oil planted in a national park. So sad.I suppose national parks are a complete joke in Indonesia.

    Not just any park, that’s Tesso Nilo, The World’s richest forest, with the highest number of plant species found anywhere on Earth – fast disappearing and apparently the much lauded moratorium did not help it even though it is the LAST lowland rainforest block left on the island.

    But, The greedy, palm oil developers are fuming mad because they can’t exploit every last hectare of land left in Indonesia. That’s what they want – complete domination, they do not care one bit about the health of the planet. Apparently, they are not happy that they can’t clear every last tree left in Sumatra.

    Of course, one can’t blame Indonesia entirely – they are poor and western countries and China want their palm oil. Most Americans, Europeans, and Asians have no clue they are aiding an environmental holocaust, or they don’t care.