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Aceh's Forestry Policy to be Nominated for International Award

Farah Fitriani Faruq
Farah Fitriani Faruq
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Aceh's Forestry Policy to be Nominated for International Award

Aceh’s logging moratorium was nominated for an international award for innovative and influential forestry policy on Tuesday, despite glaring problems with its implementation and continued illegal logging in the province.

The World Future Council, a Hamburg-based international policy research institute, announced that the Aceh moratorium had been short-listed for the Future Policy Award.

Winners will represent the most inspiring, innovative and influential forest policies that contribute to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations, the statement said.

Environmental groups and experts agree that the moratorium, issued in 2007 by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, is a positive development, but say that it has not been implemented and the planning phase was inadequate.

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The moratorium was meant to suspend logging across the entire province in order to halt the destruction of forests while the administration redeveloped its forest management strategy.

T.M. Zulfikar, executive director of the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Wahli), said that while  the policy was a positive development,  it was deeply flawed. He called it an “empty” instruction.

“The policy is okay but it has to be implemented. The Aceh administration has not followed through on the logging moratorium,” Zulfikar said.

“Moratorium was not meant to become just another buzzword, but there has been no movement at all from the nine institutions within the regional government that received the order,” he added.

Zulfikar said Aceh is still experiencing flooding despite the ban on logging, and while there are no new concessions, illegal logging is on the rise. “There is still ongoing forest destruction from mining activities and plantations.”

He said from 2007-08 around 92,600 hectares of forest were destroyed in Aceh, and in 2009 he estimates that at least 23,000 hectares were lost.

Hariadi Kartodiharjo, a forestry expert from the Bogor Agricultural University, said the moratorium was not adequately researched and discussed.

Most of the debate centered around conducting local patrols to prevent illegal logging, but overall forest management was not addressed, problems likely to arise had not been anticipated and the need for capacity building had not been recognized, Hariadi added.

Nevertheless, he said the moratorium was a “progressive” move, considering that most other provinces have not responded to forest destruction.

He said another problem is implementation and enforcement, adding that most people think once logging licenses were revoked, the forests were safe.

“Who could guarantee that? We are aware of how weak the government is in forestry management,” he said.

Hariadi said stopping logging is only one part of the moratorium — it’s just as much about developing a sustainable system for forest management.

The new forestry management strategy was intended to take into account natural disasters, such as floods and land slides, and human-animal conflicts that often result as a consequence of deforestation.

But Hariadi said, “There is still a lack of common-sense understanding of forestry issues.

“For example, if logging permits are revoked, then local people will get poorer. Those concessions threw out the local people from the forests in the first place, the permits are negating people's rights, not the other way around,” he said.

The three winners of the Future Policy Award will be announced on Sept. 21 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.  Along with the Aceh Moratorium, policies from 19 other countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Finland, Gambia, Kenya, Norway, India, the United States and Vietnam were short-listed for the award, the World Future Council said.

news source : The Jakarta Globe

photo by Mahdi Ismail

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