August 5, 2019

Indonesian permanent forest moratorium signed

JAKARTA ( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya stated that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signed a 5-page order for a permanent moratorium which ends the provision of new permits in primary forests and peatlands covering areas of over 66 million hectares, or 844 times the size of New York.

This permanent moratorium, which went into effect after its signing and will remain so until improved forest and peatland governance is achieved, means that no new permits will be issued in these large areas, in particular for pulpwood plantations and palm oil expansion, as well as logging and mining. 

The permanent moratorium, the minister explained, is aimed at ongoing improved forest and peat governance, coupled with the necessary focus on continuing to save primary forests and peatlands.

“In this way, Indonesia will be able to continue reducing emissions from deforestation as well as forest degradation involving large primary forests and peatlands,” Minister Nurbaya pointed out at the ministry building (Aug 5).

Having discussed the details of the extent of the permanent moratorium on an earlier occasion, as previously reported by (Jul 1), the minister elaborated further. 

According to her, the permanent moratorium initiative, spanning an area more than 21 times larger than Belgium, is 100% led by the Indonesian government, which is also seeking to protect the large biodiversity and habitat of numerous wildlife species in the areas involved.

“It should be emphasized that this initiative of a permanent moratorium ending the issuing of new permits, which was signed by the President, is not about accommodating input from NGOs or giving in to pressure from donor groups,” she stressed.

The permanent moratorium covers areas of primary forest and peatlands in conservation forests, protection forests, production forests, as well as convertible production forest areas and non-state forest areas, in line with an indicative map for ending the provision of new permits.

The following photos are of a minor part of the Bornean orangutan-inhabited Sebangau National Park which was incorporated in the temporary moratorium map in 2011 but had a section sliced off by the previous administration for the provision of a palm oil permit in 2013, as recently reported by (Jul 16)

As of today, the peat forests removed from the boundaries of the national park are still almost entirely intact. Nonetheless, with the emergence of the new permanent moratorium, this controversial practice is certainly expected to end.

Various levels of implementation 

The Environment and Forestry Minister has power over nearly all the implementation of the new permanent moratorium, given that more than 63.5 million hectares, or more than 96% of the total permanent moratorium indicative map, are under her authority.   

The President has also ordered governors and regents/mayors in charge of those areas not under the minister’s control - comprised of 2.25 million hectares of non-state forest areas or under 4% of the permanent moratorium indicative map - to stop issuing new permits.

Furthermore, these governors and regents/mayors have also been ordered not to issue recommendations for new permits. In this regard, the Minister of Home Affairs has been tasked with guiding and supervising these officials in the implementation of the President’s order.

Meanwhile, the Agrarian Minister/Head of the National Land Agency has been instructed by the President not to issue any land rights titles in areas lying within the permanent moratorium indicative map. 

The Agrarian Minister has also been given the duty of accelerating the consolidation of the permanent moratorium indicative map into provincial spatial plans up to the regency/city levels. This is aimed at improving land use governance through collaborations with the governors and regents/mayors concerned. 

In addition to being tasked with enhancing governance policies in the agriculture and plantation sector, the Minister of Agriculture has been asked to improve the effectiveness of critical land management, including through ecosystem restoration.

The Minister of Agriculture has also been ordered to stop issuing agriculture and plantation permits in areas covered by the permanent moratorium indicative map.

The indicative map is to be defined and revised every six months by the Environment and Forestry Minister, while the Head of the Geospatial Information Agency has been given the responsibility of validating and integrating forest and peatland land cover in accordance with the indicative map.

This validation and integration process will be undertaken in collaboration with the Environment and Forestry Minister and Agrarian Minister. 

Reporting and monitoring

President Jokowi has also ordered the Environment and Forestry Minister to report on the implementation of the permanent moratorium every six months, or at any other time if necessary.

As to the monitoring of the execution of the President’s order for a permanent moratorium, this is the duty of the Cabinet Secretary who is also required to report on this to the President himself.

This permanent moratorium on the issuance of new permits was preceded by another bold initiative in September last year, when President Jokowi signed a moratorium on the issuance of new permits for palm oil expansion in areas of good forest cover (secondary forests).