(Photo Greenpeace/Ulet Ifansasti)

Gov't Must Reform Forest Laws: NGOs

BY :DAMES ALEXANDER SINAGA

NOVEMBER 23, 2017

Jakarta. A number of non-governmental organizations that have grouped together under the Coalition for Forest Policy Change, or KPKK, on Tuesday (21/11) urged Indonesian legislators to reform the country's 1999 Forest Laws.

According to the coalition, the process in which the law was drafted during the country's transition period in the late 1990s was far from the principles of transparency.

"It [the law] has not protected forest cover, [and only] sees our forests as a commodity," Grahat Nagara, the secretary general of Auriga, an environmental think-tank which is part of the coalition, said in Jakarta.

Grahat said forests should not be seen as just sites for production, protection and conservation, but also respected for its socio-cultural functions. 

Hariadi Kartodiharjo, a forestry expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), said approximately 34 million hectares of natural forest have disappeared since the law came into effect.

Hariadi said the law often favors business conglomerates, the only ones with the money to pay for the administrative fees to obtain a forest concession.

"It is too hard for an individual company to obtain the permit," Hariadi said.

According to Hariadi, any revision to the law should be based on real conditions seen on the forest floor.

"We should not fool ourselves into thinking that we still have a lot of untouched forests. Half of them is gone, including conservation areas. The new regulation has to correspond to reality," Hariadi said.

The coalition also urges the government to follow the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) recommendation to define its concept of "forest" before implementing any afforestation or reforestation plans.

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