MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia: Activists Warn Rising Permits on Mining in Forests

Published by MAC on 2010-11-16
Source: Jakarta Post

Activists Warn Rising Permits on Mining in Forests

By Adianto P. Simamora

The Jakarta Post

29 October 2010

A year after the government's vow to cut emissions, activists say they have yet to witness the government's real actions to meet the target, while hundreds of mining firms are ready to dig forests. The Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) and the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) warned of the rising demand for new permits for mining activities in protected forests in several provinces. "When the Southeast Sulawesi administration proposes a conversion of 481,000 hectares of conservation areas into mining area, the central government allowed it to happen," Jatam campaigner Hendrik Siregar said Thursday.

Data from Jatam showed that the 481,000 hectares of conservation and protected forests would be allotted to 253 mining companies in the province. He said that the latest case was when the government approved the conversion of 14,000 hectares of Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park for commercial purposes in Gorontalo this year. Jatam said that four mining companies had secured permits to operate in the national park.

Data compiled by Jatam showed that a number of permits had also been issued for mining activities to operate in national parks such as in Batang Gadis National Park in North Sumatra, Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park in East Nusa Tenggara, Tangkoko Dua Saudara National Park in North Sulawesi and Lalobata National Park in North Maluku. The activists said the proposals were in addition to 153 companies, which had secured permits since the New Order. The companies have yet to operate but for various reasons. "In addition, thousands of permits on small-scale mining firms have been issued since the regional autonomy period," he said.

The government has promised to cut 26 percent in emissions by 2020 with a national budget and an additional 15 percent with the support of foreign countries. The commitment was made last year with half of the target to be reached by improving forest management and cutting forest fires. Indonesia has also signed a US$1 billion climate change deal with Norway requiring Indonesia to reduce the forest-loss rate with a two-year moratorium on new permits to dig natural forests and peatland.

Forests have become central in international talks on climate change as forest-related emissions contributed about 20 percent of global emissions. Walhi forest campaigner Deddy Ratih expressed doubt that the government would reach the 26 percent target, provided there was no breakthrough in forest management. "Allowing conversion of protected and conservation forests into the mining sector is a serious threat to the commitment to cut emissions," he said.

He said, without shifting to more sustainable forest management and less extractive and exploitative enterprises, Indonesia would likely fail.

Forest Minister Zulkifli Hasan denied that his office had issued permits to shift protected and conservation forests into mining activities.

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