Logging Ban Extension a Step in Right Direction: Activists

An environmental activist wears a Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono mask (C) and holds a mock FIFA World Cup Trophy as another one wears an orangutan costume during a protest against deforestation at the Jakarta convention centre where the World Cup trophy is presented to hundreds of school student in Jakarta, Indonesia, 26 Jan. 2010. Indonesia, which aims to cut heat-trapping gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, plans to set up a 1 billion US dollar fund to invest in renewable energy projects and water treatment to address the effects of climate change. Indonesia trails China and the US as the biggest carbon dioxide emitting nations, if greenhouse gases from deforestation and land-use changes are included, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Deforestation and forest degradation account for more than 83 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions, according to WWF.  (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)

An environmental activist wears a mask of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono mask, center, as another one wears an orangutan costume during a protest against deforestation at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta in this Jan. 26, 2010 file photo.  (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)

Environmentalists have lauded the Indonesian government’s decision to extend a logging ban aimed at protecting rainforests despite fierce industry pressure, but some say there are more steps to take.

“WWF supports this moratorium extension and we applaud the president’s policy to improve the forests and peat lands management to reduce the [carbon] emissions and deforestation,” the chief of the Indonesian chapter of the World Wild Fund, Efransjah, said on Wednesday.

Efransjah said it was more important for the government to complete the integrated map of deforestation in Indonesia and to review the regulations at the regional level, which are often counterproductive to the policies set up by the central government.

Greenpeace forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi said that while the moratorium extension was a step forward, it would not be enough to save the country from rampant illegal logging that would destroy the forest and creatures living in it.

“While it’s good news however, the president did not strengthen the moratorium to cover all forests and peatland. That is what’s really needed if we want to save Indonesia’s remaining tigers and orangutans, which are under threat from relentless palm oil, and pulp and paper expansion,” Yuyun said.

“The government must review existing concessions, increase transparency in the way licences are granted, establish a credible database of low carbon land and undertake clear spatial and land use planning,” he added.

On Wednesday, the government confirmed Yudhoyono had signed a two-year extension on the logging ban, 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.

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.

JG, AFP