Minister reaffirms backing from President on peat reforms

JAKARTA ( - In a cabinet meeting led by President Joko Widodo, the agenda of which was to evaluate arrangements concerning the recently-issued peat regulations (Apr 26), Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya delivered a presentation on the key points of progress made based on various of the President's directives, especially with respect to peat governance reforms.

“President Jokowi explained that environmental and economic interests have clashed for ages, to the extent that the government felt it necessary to try and improve peat governance. This commitment has not changed,” Minister Siti Nurbaya told on the weekend (Apr 29) at the ministry building.

The President, continued the minister, reaffirmed that the corporate sector must be open to taking part in peat governance reforms, and if they are unwilling to do so, they will be compelled to accept government intervention through regulations aimed at optimizing environmental and economic interests.

“The President's directive on the peat protection zone map must be kept in effect. The President instructed me to keep carrying out efforts at peat governance reforms, while also continuing to communicate with the corporate sector to jointly improve peat governance,” the minister explained.

She emphasized that communication with the corporate sector was not intended to perpetuate their business-as-usual practices, but must take place in the spirit of strengthening peat governance reforms and finding the most achievable solutions to peat issues.

“If it was not in the spirit of peat governance reforms, I would reject it. Also, it should be stressed that what is being done at the moment are gradual efforts,” she asserted.

Peat violations by giants

Dr Siti Nurbaya went on to describe how she had presented the results of field monitoring and law enforcement actions to the President in the cabinet meeting.

“I made an official presentation to the President on the peat violations committed by the APP and APRIL groups."

“Despite the ban on new peat development and the replanting of burned peatlands, the fact is that these groups continue to violate it. What would happen if we stopped peat governance reforms?" the minister asked.

The uncovering of the peat violations carried out by these two paper giants indicates that the monitoring on the ground by the ministry is very effective in supporting peat-related law enforcement.

“Only the Jokowi administration has been brave enough to impose harsh sanctions on these two giant business groups regarding peat violations, including forest and land fires. The goal is to reinforce peat governance reforms,” the minister affirmed.

The President also gave an instruction to continue on-the-ground monitoring and law enforcement actions so that peat governance reforms are carried out effectively.

“Peat governance reforms and law enforcement actions need to go hand in hand and strengthen each other. This makes the reforms we undertake something real, and not just talk only,” the minister asserted.

The following two photos show the APP company whose concession was hardest hit by 2015's peat fires (PT BAP) caught red-handed by monitoring on the ground from the ministry committing a peat violation by replanting burned peatlands.



Meanwhile, the two photos below depict peat violations carried out by an APRIL company (PT RAPP) in the form of new pulpwood development in peatlands, an action prohibited since early November 2015.



10-year work plan revision required

The Environment and Forestry Minister also pointed out why a revision of the 10-year work plans of the pulpwood companies is necessary.

“These revisions must be made so that peat governance reforms can take place. According to the regulations, if the companies don't propose to revise their 10-year work plan by the deadline, they will be sanctioned,” the minister warned.

The minister also elaborated on how she had reported to the President that there are a number of ministerial peat regulations to be issued, particularly those on arrangements for logging and ecosystem restoration operations, including land swaps.

“The President told me to go ahead,” she added.

The minister also spoke of the communication she has had with the President in the wake of the cabinet meeting. "The explanations I gave earlier have formed part of our communications after the cabinet meeting," Minister Siti Nurbaya said in concluding the interview with