deforestation in West papua
Villagers in Boven Digoel Regency stand on a deforested area. Courtesy of Auriga Nusantara.

Indonesia’s ministry claims they try to limit palm plantation expansions in West Papua


Jayapura, Jubi – Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said that the Ministry had done efforts to reduce the palm plantation expansions in Papua Land by cutting 38.2 percent from the total area proposed by governors, regents, and mayors for oil palm expansions from 2015 to 2019.


Papua Land, or internationally known as West Papua, is comprised of two Indonesian provinces: Papua and West Papua. Each province is led by a governor.


“The 38.2 percent figure accounts for 106,619 hectares of land not approved for expansions. The total area that is approved is 172,430 hectares, compared to the 279,049 originally proposed by the two provincial administrations,” Nurbaya explained at the ministry office two weeks ago.



Read also: Indonesia likely to miss Paris Agreement commitments if deforestation in West Papua continues: Greenpeace


She further said that from 2015 to 2019, of the 10 units of state forest released to the palm companies, she only granted permission to one unit while the other nine units – covering an area of 143,613 hectares – had received approval from the previous minister and the permits continued after Nurbaya took over. The permits, signed by the Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), are based on a recommendation letter from the governor and a location permit from the regent or mayor.


“The only state forest unit released for oil palm plantation during my tenure is 28,817 hectares or 2.5 percent of the total state forest area released for oil palm expansion from 2004 to 2019,” the Minister said.


Meanwhile, during the reign of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, from 2005 to 2014, the total area of palm plantation expansion proposed by the regents, mayors, and governors of Papua and West Papua reached nearly 1.2 million hectares. Of the proposed area, 18.5 percent or 220,998 hectares were not approved. In other words, 974,576 hectares got approval, the equivalent of 13 times the size of Singapore.


Nurbaya said Indonesia continues its effort to reduce emissions by reducing the country’s deforestation rate. Indonesia’s deforestation rate from 2018 to 2020 was the lowest in the country’s history. During the same period, Papua and West Papua contributed to only 7.4 percent of 115,000 hectares of national deforestation.


Read also: ‘No one asked for our consent’: Indigenous people in Bintuni Bay reject logging in their forests 


The deforestation in Papua occurred mostly in state forest areas liberated prior to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s presidency, reported on February 17, 2021. In 2018, Jokowi imposes a moratorium on oil palm plantations.


“Thanks to President Jokowi’s oil palm moratorium order. Regents, mayors, and governors are not allowed to issue new location permits and recommendations to oil palm companies for areas with good forest cover, particularly in Papua and West Papua Provinces,” Nurbaya said.


“It is very clear that the oil palm moratorium order has a real impact in the two provinces, wherein new location permits from the regent or mayor and recommendation letters from the governor have been terminated,” she added.


Editor: Victor Mambor

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