Gapki says ‘no’ to mora­to­rium ex­ten­sion

The Jakarta Post - - BUSINESS HEADLINES - Anggi M. Lu­bis

The In­done­sian Palm Oil As­so­ci­a­tion (Gapki) has op­posed the government’s plan to pro­long a two-year for­est mora­to­rium, slated to end in May, say­ing that such an ex­ten­sion would only ham­per the ex­pan­sion of the coun­try’s palm oil sec­tor.

In­done­sia, through Pres­i­den­tial In­struc­tion No. 10/2011, had set a two-year mora­to­rium to halt the com­mer­cial use of a to­tal 65.2 mil­lion hectares of pri­mary forests and peat­land in an at­tempt to cur­tail de­for­esta­tion and re­duce green­house gases.

The mora­to­rium, which re­sulted from an In­done­sia–Nor­way bi­lat­eral agree­ment with a US$1 bil­lion po­ten­tial car­bon trans­ac­tion, will ex­pire on May 20.

Forestry Min­is­ter Zulk­i­fli Hasan has de­clared the mora­to­rium a success, say­ing that the move has 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.

In­done­sia has pledged to cut back its car­bon emis­sions by 26 per­cent from the cur­rent 2.1 gi­ga­tons of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent (CO2e) by 2020, and by 2012 In­done­sia had cut 489 bil­lion tons of CO2e or 16.57 per­cent of the tar­get.

“Such progress shows that the coun­try needs to con­tinue the for­est mora­to­rium,” Zulk­i­fli said in a speech read dur­ing a na­tional sem­i­nar held in Jakarta on Tues­day, fur­ther em­pha­siz­ing the government’s plan to go on with the mora­to­rium.

A two-year mora­to­rium was enough to curb de­for­esta­tion and to lower car­bon emis­sions, but an ex­ten­sion would only in­cur losses to palm plan­ta­tion com­pa­nies that had contributed much to the state in­come, Gapki’s di­rec­tor of law and ad­vo­cacy Tungkot Si­payung said.

Tungkot said that the government should fo­cus on pro­tect­ing pri­mary and con­ser­va­tion forests, and let loose the us­age of peat­land deemed as prospec­tive palm plan­ta­tion land.

“The mora­to­rium will limit the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop our coun­try’s palm oil pro­duc­tion. We al­ready have a 1999 Forestry Law to mon­i­tor the mat­ter, there­fore a longer for­est mora­to­rium is not needed,” he said, adding that data gath­ered from var­i­ous sources showed that peat­land planted with palm could re­duce car­bon emis­sions more than peat­land left dor­mant.

Gapki’s data is in con­trast with re­search re­ports from var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions and en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that say emis­sions from log­ging and drainage on peat­land have contributed sig­nif­i­cantly to In­done­sia’s green­house gas emis­sions, in­clud­ing meth­ane.

Palm plan­ta­tion ex­pan­sion has long been blamed for ram­pant de­for­esta­tion, while high de­mand for palm oil has driven rapid for­est loss in sev­eral ar­eas such as in Su­ma­tra and Kal­i­man­tan.

In­done­sia, the world’s largest palm oil pro­ducer with an an­nual out­put of over 26 mil­lion tons, has been ex­pand­ing its oil palm es­tates by 200,000 hectares a year, which are mostly devel­oped by large com­pa­nies.

Tungkot said that the ex­tended mora­to­rium would only gen­er­ate losses to the coun­try as it lim­ited devel­op­ment of la­bor-in­ten­sive palm plan­ta­tions and palm pro­cess­ing sec­tors, that ab­sorbed 6.7 mil- lion work­ers and had contributed Rp 30.73 tril­lion (US$3.16 bil­lion) to state in­come in 2006-2012 from crude palm oil (CPO) alone.

Palm oil play­ers have strongly op­posed the mora­to­rium since it com­menced two years ago, say­ing that it con­tra­dicted the government’s plan to reach 40 mil­lion tons of CPO pro­duc­tion in 2020.

Zulk­i­fli, how­ever, said that the mora­to­rium would not af­fect the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“Many busi­ness­men protested the mora­to­rium be­fore it was launched in 2011 say­ing that it would ham­per in­vest­ment. But our coun­try, in con­trast, recorded 6.3 per­cent eco­nomic growth in 2012,” Zulk­i­fli said.

An­tara/jes­sica He­lena Wuysang

Let’s get started: A worker har­vests palm fruit in a plan­ta­tion owned by PT Tint­ing Boyok Sawit Mandiri (TBSM) in Sang­gau district, West Kal­i­man­tan. The In­done­sian Palm Oil As­so­ci­a­tion (Gapki) says it op­poses the government’s plan to ex­tend the two-year for­est mora­to­rium that is slated to end in May.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.