Indonesia should stop converting more than half of its forests if the country wants to keep its commitment to the moratorium policy it signed with the Norway government. Thi is not the call by an environmental organization, but an official statement of the Environment Ministry, according to which 72.5 million hectares of its forests along with peat land must be protected from business purposes.
Forestry Ministry data says that the country has 120 million hectares of forest, while data from the Environment Ministry shows that in 2009 the country had 93.83 million hectares covered with forests.
Masnellyarti Hilman, deputy minister for environmental damage controlling at the Environment Ministry said that the analysis had been submitted at a Cabinet meeting.
The ministry assessed the impacts of a two-year moratorium on natural forest and peatland, forest regulation that banned the conversion of conservation, protected and production forest located with geographical sloping of 40 degrees and below and the 2007 spatial planning policy, which prohibited the conversion of forest areas sloping more than 40 degrees.
Indonesia suffered high deforestation with more than 1 million hectares per year due to rampant illegal logging and forest fires. The government targets to decrease the rate to 500,000 hectares per year from 2010 to 2014.
Indonesia and Norway signed a US$1 billion deal on reducing deforestation last month of which Indonesia pledged to impose a two-year moratorium on natural forest and peat conversion to help cut emissions.
According to the Jakarta Post, Masnellyarti said to keep the commitment, the Papua province should maintain at least 28 million hectares of the forest untouched. The province of Kalimantan should protect 15 million of its forests from any conversion, while Sumatra province needed to maintain 12 million of its forest untouched.
A study by the Greenomics Indonesia said 711,971 hectares of natural forests in Riau were located in industrial forest concessions (HTI) and plantation areas. "The moratorium deal between Indonesia and Norway could not stop the conversion of 711,971 hectares of natural forest spread across 34 HTI and 93 plantation areas," said Elfian Effendi, of Greenomics. The NGO predicted natural forest in Riau could stock some 178 million ton of carbon. Elfian warned that without urgent measures, the letter of intent between Indonesia and Norway could instead accelerate forest conversion with owners of concession areas converting their area before the moratorium policy takes into effect in 2011.