Agrarian Minister tells palm oil companies not to buy time in HCVF areas registration

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning / Head of the National Land Agency, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan, has firmly stated that palm oil companies - which are legally required to protect High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) areas in their concessions - have no need to wait for any technical guidelines following the issuance of a Circular Letter in early July 2015.

He added that the companies concerned simply need to immediately register the distribution of HCVF areas located in their concessions at the nearest local office of the national land agency.

"We are happy
to facilitate this. In fact, facilitating efforts aimed at the protection of HCVF areas forms a major part of our work at present. So, have no doubt, those HCVF areas will not simply be abandoned by the government, Ferry confidently told foresthints.news on Monday (Mar 21) in Jakarta.

The minister expressed his conviction in the strong and clear legal basis of the Circular Letter within the scope of his ministry, containing as it does various points of instruction.

There is no need to ask about this any further. The legal standing of the Circular Letter is clear. It represents a form of legal facilitation provided by the Jokowi administration for palm oil companies to protect their HCVF areas. The governments commitment to this matter is also clear, he stressed.

Ferry described his ministry as a hierarchy, in which a top-down instruction is binding and has to be complied with internally.

There is no reason for national land agency offices across Indonesia to be unwilling to serve palm oil companies that wish to register their HCVF areas. On the contrary, they should be glad to help in this matter. That is our way of thinking, he explained.

The minister warned palm oil companies against coming up with any more excuses for not immediately registering HCVF areas that have been identified in their concessions.

He also gave some background to the issue, explaining that palm oil companies had previously complained about a lack of legal protection from the government for HCVF areas distributed in their concessions.

He added that such complaints are, however, no longer justified as legal protection in this respect has been provided since July last year.

I want to ask the palm oil companies not to try and buy time. Im appealing to them to register the HCVF areas in their concessions with immediate effect, so as to gain legal protection from the government. This is purely our concern, and we have not been affected by international pressure. Not at all, the minister exhorted.

In early June last year, the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, sent a letter to Ferry, her cabinet colleague in the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning, asking that legal protection be given to HCVF areas located in forest areas that had been allocated licenses for palm oil plantation development.

A month later, Ferry issued the Circular Letter in response to the letter from his colleague, granting legal protection to palm oil companies for safeguarding HCVF areas situated in their concessions. This implied that these HCVF areas would no longer be neglected by either the central or regional governments.

Apart from the HCVF areas which are, as a matter of course, to be protected by the palm oil companies, there are also additional HCVF areas to receive protection based on the voluntary commitments of individual palm oil companies. The Circular Letter from the minister also serves as the basis for providing legal protection to these particular HCVF areas.

Whether its for mandatory or voluntary HCVF areas, we are prepared to grant legal protection. It is up to the palm oil companies to make the next move now, not us, Ferry concluded.