The Indonesian Environment Minister has confirmed that the moratorium on new forest clearing for palm plantations or logging operations will become permanent. The ban has been regularly extended since 2011.
According to Greenpeace, Indonesia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, with about 74 million hectares of rainforest – almost equivalent to the size of Japan – logged, burned, and degraded in the last 50 years.
In order to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation and to protect over 60 hectares of primary forest, the moratorium was introduced in 2011. The World Bank has also estimated that 2.6 million hectares of land was destroyed in the 2015 forest fires, with damages costing about US$16 billion.
Forest fires are common in Indonesia during the dry season, mostly due to the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for agriculture. The resulting smoke often travels to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, causing fog and health problems.
Environment minister Siti Nurbaya said that she has decided to keep the moratorium instead of renewing it every two years. Last year, President Joko Widodo had also placed a three-year moratorium on new permits for palm plantations. The president also stated that previous plantation permits will be reviewed.
Source: Channel News Asia
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