JAKARTA (Reuters) – Green groups on Thursday urged Indonesia to extend a moratorium on new palm oil permits and improve its implementation, warning of a risk of losing millions of acres of forest to plantation expansion.
The moratorium was initiated by Indonesia in September 2018, the top producer of palm oil. It aims to reduce deforestation and increase production from existing areas. On September 19, the moratorium will expire.
Inda Fatinaware (executive director of non-governmental organization Sawit Watch), said that three years are not sufficient to address palm deforestation issues.
The moratorium must be extended but also the governance needs to improve.
Inda stated that the government was not transparent in its execution and that issues other than permits have been ignored.
The government must review any areas granted to palm farmers by companies, and suspend new permits if they are not being used or suspected to be used for illegal purposes.
According to government data, 1.49 million hectares of concession land had been unused by the government and 1.5 million hectares were not used in compliance with permits as of July 2019.
Some land will now be considered forest.
The Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs oversees the moratorium but did not respond immediately to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Forest Watch Indonesia also found that palm oil-related deforestation was still taking place despite the ban.
According to Mufti Fathul Barri, the executive director of Forest Watch Indonesia, more than 21 million ha (51.89million acres) of forests could be lost for the cultivation of vegetable oil.
The Indonesian plantation areas for vegetable oil are more than 16 million hectares. They’re mostly located on Borneo, Sumatra, and other islands. But, cultivation is shifting eastwards to the Papua Region.
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