Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Indonesia may have lost a staggering five million hectares of forest since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a two year moratorium on deforestation last year, Greenpeace Indonesia said on Thursday.
The moratorium, part of the president’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) program, failed to include five million hectares of forest in maps of protected areas, said Kiki Taufik, a geographical information specialist with Greenpeace Indonesia, during a press conference in Jakarta.
“These areas haven’t been protected by the moratorium because their statuses are unclear,” Kiki said. “The regions overlap with existing concessions.”
Kalimantan was hit hardest in the last year, where 1.9 million hectares of forest disappeared. Papua lost some 1.7 million hectares of lost forest.
“In Kalimantan, most of the destroyed forest was in regions where coal concessions were already granted,” Kiki said. “In Papua, the forest was cut down under pre-existing logging concessions.”
The deforestation moratorium promised to protect nearly half of Indonesia’s existing tree cover — an area totaling 64 million hectares — when it was passed last year. But one year later, only 13 million additional hectares have been placed under protection, Kiki said.
While the moratorium has placed some 64 million hectares of forest under the government’s protection, 46.7 million hectares of these protected forests were already part of conservation areas when the moratorium was announced, he said.
“So the moratorium only successfully added 13 million hectares of protected forests,” Kiki said.
The two-year moratorium came into effect last May as Norway pledged $1 billion in aid to Indonesia as part of a larger UN-backed plan to reduce emissions produced by deforestation. According to estimates, one million hectares of burning forest can produce as much as 290 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Indonesia lost five times that amount in the last year alone.