July 1, 2019

Minister details permanent moratorium on primary forest, peat

JAKARTA ( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has set out the details of the content of a permanent moratorium on primary forest and peat which is due to be signed in July by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

The minister pointed out that the efforts to make this permanent moratorium - which covers in excess of 66 million hectares, equivalent to more than 21 times the size of Belgium - possible are an example of President Jokowi’s strong commitment to forest and peat protection.

According to the minister, the move to make the moratorium - which first took effect in May 2011 and has been extended several times - permanent represents the realization of President Jokowi’s commitment, which has been strengthened by the results of a series of regular evaluations conducted by the ministry.

“So this move (the permanent moratorium) is not due to international pressure. It’s irrelevant if anyone claims that,” she asserted to at the ministry building (Jun 28).

It was completely reasonable for President Jokowi, in his joint letter with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to express his disappointment in the EU given that it is ignoring Indonesia’s commitment to forest preservation efforts, the minister explained.

Extent of permanent moratorium

Minister Nurbaya proceeded to highlight over 51 million hectares of conservation areas and protection forests, equal to more than twice the size of the UK, which form the largest component of the primary and peat permanent moratorium map.

The photos below show peat forests in the Sebangau National Park - spanning an area more than 160 times the size of Brussels and home to between 6,000 and 9,000 Bornean orangutans - which is one of the key conservation areas of the permanent moratorium and was the subject of recent report by (Jun 26).

The minister also underlined that 12.48 million hectares of primary forests and peat, spread among production forests classified as state forest areas which are legally controlled by the ministry, will be incorporated into the permanent moratorium map.  

Furthermore, there are another 2.25 million hectares, located in non-state forest areas legally controlled by local governments, which will also form part of the permanent moratorium map. 

“This means that the combined component of production forest and non-state forest areas to be covered by the permanent primary forest and peat moratorium will amount to 14.73 million hectares - or the equivalent of almost 1,400 times the size of Paris,” she explained.

The following photos depict some of the permanent moratorium areas which previously belonged to a palm oil concession (PT Kallista Alam) situated in the Tripa peat swamp forests. These peat forests lie in a non-state forest area in part of the Leuser Ecosystem and are known as the orangutan capital of the world.

Secondary forest moratorium

In addition to the efforts outlined above, Minister Nurbaya also discussed President Jokowi’s order for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in areas of good forest cover (secondary forest) which was signed in September last year (Sep 19).

This three-year palm oil permit moratorium, she pointed out, has also resulted in areas previously planned for palm oil expansion changing to areas not planned for deforestation, positively impacting areas of good forest cover spanning millions of hectares.

“All of these represent concrete efforts on the government’s part to tackle deforestation and degradation issues which go hand-in-hand with improving forestry and peat governance. This needs to be done on a gradual basis over a sufficient period of time,” the minister explained.

In concluding her discussion with, Minister Nurbaya also stressed that under President Jokowi’s administration there has been an ongoing expansion in the establishment and recognition of customary forests, as well as a prioritization of the social forestry program aimed at broadening access to indigenous and local communities.