Indonesia Gets Tough on Forests

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday ordered provincial governors to act more firmly against mining and plantation firms which continue to destroy forests in the country.

“A number of mining and plantations operations remained destructive to the environment. I urged governors to carry out firmer actions against them,” he told a national forum attended by high-ranking officials in the capital.

Indonesia is considered the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to rampant deforestation by palm oil, paper and mining industries, which is fuelled by corruption.

Yudhoyono said he would personally oversee his instructions were implemented.

His administration has been under pressure from environmentalists to implement a two-year moratorium on the clearing of natural forest and peatland, which was due to begin January 1 this year.

Norway agreed in May to contribute up to a billion dollars to help Indonesia fight deforestation.

“Massive efforts are being made by the industries and its representatives in the government through the forestry ministry to undermine, dilute and stall the action plan,” Greenpeace forest campaigner Joko Arif told reporters on Friday.

“The president must thwart these attempts and make sure that his government is able to follow best practices as recommended by civil society and as required under the Norway agreement,” he added.