Jokowi keeps his promise to take over burned areas located in forestry concessions

(foresthints.news) - President Jokowi has kept his promise to the public of taking over areas scorched by the massive fires that burned forests and other land in 2015, in particular those areas situated throughout forestry concessions.

This became legally possible following the release of a regulation of the Minister of the Environment and Forestry in mid-December 2015 which governs procedures for taking over burned areas located in forestry concessions.

The takeover of burned areas situated in forestry concessions must follow legal procedures in line with the regulation of the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, which I signed on 17 December 2015, the minister in question, Siti Nurbaya, told foresthints.news on Monday (Jan 25) in Jakarta.

The minister said that the takeover of these areas would be done cautiously, starting with a process of identifying and verifying burnt areas and ending with these areas being handed over to the government.

There is more to this regulation however. It also stipulates how the areas taken over by the government are to be monitored, evaluated and managed in the future, the minister explained.

The takeover of these burned areas represents an unprecedented policy move in Indonesia. With the release of this ministerial regulation, Jokowi becomes the first Indonesian president courageous enough to take over areas burned due to forest and land fires, in particular those located in forestry concessions.

In early December 2015, an alliance of NGOs in South Sumatra the province which suffered the greatest impact of the 2015 fires released its findings. These included the fact that almost 295 thousand hectares of land had been burned in concession areas belonging to suppliers of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Of this total area, nearly 175 thousand hectares consisted of peatland.

Another report issued by Greenomics Indonesia in November last year revealed that a pulpwood plantation developed by an APP-linked company in a legally-established high conservation value area was burned in South Sumatra. This is not all - two APP-linked concessions, measuring almost 400 thousand hectares, have had their licenses frozen by the Indonesian Government due to land and forest fires on their respective concessions.