Jakarta extends moratorium on licences for forest use

JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo has approved a two- year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland, the Environment and Forestry Minister said yesterday.

It was established in 2011 under the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation. This is the third extension.

The latest rollover would give the authorities more time to pin down regulations on forest use. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a text message: "While we are gathering enough material to decide on licensing and primary forest and peatland governance, the presidential instruction is extended for now."

By last November, the government's forest moratorium covered an area of over 66 million ha.

Indonesia is prone to outbreaks of forest fires during dry seasons, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for agriculture.

The resulting smoke often spreads to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia, slashing visibility and causing a health hazard.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'Jakarta extends moratorium on licences for forest use'. Print Edition | Subscribe