West Papua No.1 News Portal | Jubi
Jakarta-Jubi A new Greenpeace International report, titled Licence to Clear, urges national and provincial governments to seize a fleeting opportunity to intervene in a vast area slated for deforestation for palm oil in what is internationally known as West Papua.
“Since 2000, forest estate land released for plantations in Papua Province has totalled almost a million hectares – an area almost twice the size of the island of Bali,” a release made available on April 7, 2021 said. The figure only covered the loss in Papua province, one of the provinces in West Papua territory. The area comprises Papua and West Papua provinces.
“It will be nearly impossible for Indonesia to meet its commitments in the Paris Agreement if the estimated 71.2 million tonnes of forest carbon stored in the plantation concession lands targeted for clearing in Papua Province are released,” the release went on.
Greenpeace reported that the majority of this forest remained intact for now, so it was important for the government to reverse the move by providing permanent protection for uncleared forest areas and recognizing customary land rights.
“It could be Indonesia’s banner moment to take to the UN Conference of Parties later this year,” it said.
The report found systematic violations of permitting regulations as plantations were pushed into forest areas. To make matters worse, forest and peatland protection measures introduced by the national government – such as the Forest Moratorium and the Oil Palm Moratorium – have not yielded the reforms promised and are hamstrung by poor implementation and a lack of enforceability, the report said.
“In fact, the government can take very little credit for Indonesia’s recent fall in deforestation. Instead, it is market dynamics, including the demands of consumers responding to biodiversity loss, fires and human rights abuses for palm oil, that are largely responsible for the decrease. Unfortunately, with palm oil prices surging and plantation groups holding massive uncleared forest land banks in West Papua, a disaster is poised to unfold,” the release said.
Greenpeace referred to a report from Global Forest Watch report which said Indonesia’s rate of deforestation had decreased for the fourth year in a row.
Former US ambassadors to Indonesia, Robert Blake, recently wrote in The Jakarta Post, praising the “achievement”. “These notable achievements stem from a sound policy framework instituted by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, and improved on-the- ground implementation and law enforcement,” Blake wrote.
Greenpeace, however, doubted that the “achievements” would be long-term because the government’s efforts had shown the lack of systemic forestry reforms.
“Systemic forestry reforms have not materialized despite the opportunities presented by a decade-long forest moratorium and the international forest protection money already provided, with substantially more on offer. Before further funds are released, international partners and donors must establish clear and strict criteria that prioritize full transparency as a precondition,” said Kiki Taufik, Global Head of the Indonesia forests campaign at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Our investigation found strong relations and overlapping interests between Indonesian political elites and plantation companies in Papua Province. Former cabinet ministers, members of the House of Representatives, influential members of political parties and retired high-ranking military and police officers have all been identified as shareholders or board members of plantation companies featured in the report’s case studies. This allows for a culture where legislation and policy making are distorted and law enforcement is weakened,” Kiki said.
Earlier in February, a report made by Indonesia Monitors Coalition acknowledged the decline in deforestation but commented that it was still “relatively high”.
We need to scrutinize the data to know the cause of the decline: was it because of the government’s work, like what Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya claimed, or was it because the natural forests outside the conservation areas and outside the forest-rich provinces have been depleted?” the coalion report said.