Jakarta, 2 July 2019 – In his second term, President Joko Widodo must step up his political leadership and decisiveness to ensure that Indonesia reaches its national climate target. One crucial homework is strengthening the implementation of peatland restoration before and after 2020. This should be done by ensuring corporations’ compliance, improving monitoring, and stepping up law enforcement. These measures are vital because Indonesia is key to saving the world’s climate.
Besides strengthening peatland restoration, other measures central to ensuring the attainment of Indonesia’s climate target in 2030 are enforcement of forest moratorium, which the government said would be made permanent, thorough evaluation of licenses through palm oil moratorium implementation, and social forestry. With these measures improved, Indonesia can become a leader in international climate negotiations. Strengthening these policies are critical because there remains a huge gap between the nation’s target and existing policies. Such are the statements of M. Teguh Surya, Executive Director of Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan in a media discussion, “Forest and Land Fire in the Political Momentum: Now & After 2020” held in Creative Hub #TemenanLagi, Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan.
“Indonesia must strengthen a number of policies to reach its emission reduction target, with forest moratorium and peatland restoration as policies with the largest impact on emission reduction,” said Teguh.
Forest and land fire that keeps happening is a serious threat to achieving the national climate commitment, as well as an indicator of whether peatland restoration has been well-implemented in a massive manner as mandated by Presidential Regulation No. 1 of 2016 on Peatland Restoration Agency. A study by Madani and Riau Advocacy Group (KAR) in Riau in the period of January to March 2019 shows that there are 737 hotspots in Riau Province, 96 percent of which is located inside priority areas for peatland restoration. Also, it is estimated that around 5,400 hectares of concessions areas were burnt. This is concerning because according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, forest and land fire contributes around 34 to 80 percent to Indonesia’s total emissions in 2015.
“Historically speaking, there are concessions that keep burning every year, at least since 2015. In these locations, we did not find any restoration effort as mandated by Presidential Regulation No. 1 of 2016,” said Rahmaidi Azani, GIS Specialist from Riau Advocacy Group (KAR).
The study analyzed hotspots in Riau Province using high confidence level data (≥ 80%) combined with ground-checking to investigate forest and land fires happening in the period of January to March 2019.
Prof. Bambang Hero, Professor at Faculty of Forestry, Agriculture Institute of Bogor, stresses that the most crucial thing to do is ensuring that corporations have undertaken peatland restoration in accordance with the prevailing standard. According to him, it is the key to ensure that Indonesia reaches its 2030 emission reduction target.
“If a concession area has been declared as a priority location for peatland restoration, in the fourth year, it should have been restored. In reality, however, concession areas are still contributors of fire. This must be addressed as soon as possible,” stressed Bambang. “In ensuring corporations’ compliance, the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and the MoEF must work in synergy like puzzle pieces that complement each other.”
Meanwhile, Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch, highlights areas controlled by communities within palm oil and timber plantation concessions that were burning in Riau.
“Fire spots and forest and land fire are never stand-alone occurrences. There are always causes, one of which is conflict. If we want to solve the problem of forest fire, we have to first resolve the conflicts. Forest and land fire is not just about canal blocking and bore wells, it is also about conflict resolution. Governor of Riau has declared Riau to become Green Riau. Conflict resolution must also become a priority,” said Inda.
“Because BRG is mandated with an area so vast, communication and coordination with the regional government, corporations, and community networks at the regional level must be strengthened. Synergy between BRG’s agenda and the agenda of community networks must be accelerated. In addition, MoU with the RSPO must be followed-up because many corporations with concessions inside the priority location for peatland restoration are RSPO members,” she added.
Joko Widodo’s Administration – Chapter II – only has about a year to formulate a strategy to strengthen and accelerate peatland restoration before BRG’s mandate ends in 2020. Unwavering political leadership of the President, adequate authority, and a strong institution are absolute must-haves to resolve the problem of forest and land fire that has been patterned for decades through the implementation of peatland restoration.
“In the first 100 days of Joko Widodo’s second-term administration, three things that must be done to fulfill Indonesia’s climate commitment are as follows: strengthen the implementation of peatland restoration now and after 2020 by improving monitoring and law enforcement, conduct a thorough evaluation of licenses through palm oil moratorium implementation to prevent the loss of state’s income, and make forest moratorium permanent and more robust,” concluded Teguh.
● M. Teguh Surya, Executive Director of Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, Ph. 0819 1519 1979, email email@example.com
● Rahmaidi Azani, GIS Specialist, Riau Advocacy Group/Kelompok Advokasi Riau (KAR), Ph. 0813 7182 2940, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
● Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch, Ph. 0811 448 677, email: email@example.com
● Bambang Hero Saharjo, Professor of Forest Protection, Agriculture Institute of Bogor, Ph. 0816 1948 064, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.