Moratorium ‘Won’t Harm Palm Oil Industry’

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Wed, May 29 2013, 12:46 PM Paper Edition | Page: 14 The palm oil industry should not be worried about the government’s decision to extend the moratorium on the conversion of primary forest and peatland, as the measure will unlikely affect forests allocated for commercial purposes, an official says. Director General of Forestry Planning at the Forestry Ministry, Bambang Soepijanto, said in Jakarta on Tuesday that the decision would not harm the palm oil industry as about 5.7 million hectares of forest areas designated for oil palm, rubber and sugar cane plantations had not been used. In addition, oil palm plantations could use part of about 17 million hectares of forest which had been designated as convertible production forest (HPK), he said. According to data from the Agriculture Ministry, Indonesia currently has a total of 9 million hectares of oil palm plantation nationwide, less than the total HPK designated for commercial use. Earlier the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) director of law and advocacy Tungkot Sipayung had said that the moratorium extension would indeed limit the expansion of existing oil palm plantations, which in turn would result in decreased tax contributions to the state. He said that the palm oil industry employed 6.7 million workers and had contributed Rp 30.73 trillion (US$3.16 billion) to state revenues in 2006-2012 from crude palm oil (CPO). The government, through Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 6/2013 issued on May 13, has decided to extend the forest moratorium, a continuation of the previous moratorium which resulted from REDD+ an Indonesia-Norway bilateral agreement with a potential $1 billion carbon transaction. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan had previously declared that the first moratorium was a success, saying that the move had slowed the country’s deforestation rate to 450 hectares per year during 2010-2011, from 3.5 million hectares per year in the period of 1999-2002. In the first moratorium, the government had allocated 69.14 million hectares of primary forest and peatland for non-commercial use but this was decreased to 64.79 million hectares following a six-monthly-review regularly carried out during the two-year period. For the next moratorium, the Forestry Ministry has decided to protect 64.68 million hectares of primary forest and peatland from commercial use after four revisions. “The revisions were based on several updates, such as spatial-planning data, forest-use data, location-use permit and land-use certification (HGU), and the latest survey of primary forest and peatland,” he explained. The latest revision will take effect for six months until the next regular six-monthly-review. It will only affect new land-use permit proposals and not affect existing permits which are not due to expire until the next revision. (koi) Taylor Scott International

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