November 4, 2019

CIFOR DG: Key efforts needed to sustain momentum on peat, forests

JAKARTA ( - The Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Robert Nasi told in a recent discussion that efforts undertaken and still underway in the field of forestry and peatlands in Indonesia need to be continued and strengthened. 

Among the key moves required, in his view, is a reinforcement of the implementation of the permanent ban on granting new permits in primary forests and peatlands. This moratorium, covering an area greater in size than France, was signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in early August 2019.

Nasi also emphasized the importance of peat recovery as an ongoing component in the fight against future peat fires, including revitalizing and making additional investments in local livelihoods derived from peat landscapes.

Increased focus is also necessary on the abandoned idle lands within peat ecosystems, given that a significant number of this year's peat fires originated in such areas. Unless they are restored, made more resilient to fires and provide benefits to communities and the state, they will burn again.

Nasi added that social forestry programs, including land reforms efforts, are another key priority whose implementation needs to be accelerated by the Jokowi administration.  

He appealed for persistence in carrying out all of these steps but cautioned that this will represent a key challenge and will require more resources, both human and financial for years to come.

Other key measures

The CIFOR director general stressed that a three-year moratorium on palm oil expansion in areas of good forest cover (secondary forests), which was signed by President Joko Widodo in September last year, needs to be strictly implemented and extended when it expires.

Nasi explained that secondary forests - which still cover significant parts of Indonesia - are a great source of biodiversity, form a habitat for critically-endangered species, and contain high carbon stocks.

“The protection of these secondary forests is critical for the future of Indonesia’s forestry sector and its environment,” he said, warning that, “it is vital that the country’s extensive secondary forests are managed properly.” 

The photos below depict some examples of such secondary forests in the province of Aceh. These forests, which are inhabited by Sumatran elephants and tigers, remain under conservation by PT TPP, a subsidiary of Astra Agro Lestari.

Nasi also sees a ban on the clearing of mangroves in peat hydrological landscapes as necessary for their future conservation. Indonesia is home to 25% of the world’s mangroves. These ecosystems store large amounts of carbon - more than peatlands in some cases - and are key habitats for fisheries.   

“Mangroves are an integral part of efforts to protect blue carbon ecosystems,” he said, before elaborating on how essential it is to revitalize the timber plantation sector, particularly community-based plantations currently under development, in order to meet demand for timber and fiber.

Minister Nurbaya congratulated

In an official letter (Oct 31) shared with, Nasi conveyed his congratulations to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya on her reappointment to the position for President Jokowi’s second term and for the many important accomplishments achieved over the first five years of her leadership. 

The following is the first paragraph of this letter: “I was delighted to learn of your renewed appointment as Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry for a second term under the leadership of President Joko Widodo. I offer my congratulations on your hard work and dedication to Indonesia’s environment and forests and wish you the best of success."