Indonesia’s forest moratorium: A stepping stone to better forest governance?

New research highlights the moratorium's benefits for peatlands.

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Logging trucks in Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

BOGOR, Indonesia (31 October , 2011)_A team of scientists linked to the Center for International Forestry Research has released an analysis of the Indonesian government’s two-year ban on new forestry concessions.

The announcement in May of the moratorium was greeted with dismay by elements of the business community who expressed fears that a curtailment of economic growth would result from the moratorium’s limitations on forest-based development opportunities. Meanwhile, environmentalists were disappointed by the narrow scope of the moratorium and its many exclusions and exceptions.

The purpose of study is to help stakeholders on all sides interpret the significance of the moratorium and determine what steps are needed to maximize its positive impact.

Here are the key findings of the study, entitled “Indonesia’s forest moratorium: A stepping stone to better forest governance?”:

  • Indonesia’s 2-year moratorium on new concessions in primary natural forest and peatland areas is an important step towards meeting its voluntary commitment to reduce emissions. However, several issues are unresolved concerning the area and status of land covered by the moratorium, and hence the amount of carbon stored in the affected forests and peatlands.
  • The additional area given protection under the moratorium is at most 22.5 million hectares (Mha), which consists of 7.2 Mha of primary forests, 11.2 Mha of peatlands and 4.1 Mha that fall into neither of these categories.
  • The failure to include secondary forests and logged-over forests in the moratorium represents a lost opportunity to protect, at least temporarily, a fraction of 46.7 Mha of forests rich in carbon and biodiversity.
  • The moratorium’s application to peatlands is likely to generate the most significant environmental benefits because of their large carbon storage capacity. However, as governance is relatively weak, concerted efforts will be necessary to capture those benefits.
  • The moratorium’s exceptions for activities related to food and energy security create loopholes that could undermine the suspension of new concession licences. The potential for environmentally sound and economically viable land swaps should be explored before such exceptions are approved.
  • A continually updated Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM) will be an important tool for public scrutiny and a mechanism to further secure and possibly increase the area covered by the moratorium. As part of this process, existing licences should be reviewed for compliance with current laws and regulations.
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