Indonesia extends ban on logging of virgin forest
Indonesia has extended a logging ban to protect rainforests despite fierce industry pressure, the government said yesterday, while green campaigners slammed the move as inadequate.
Vast tracts of the archipelago are covered by some of the world's richest tropical rainforests, home to endangered animals such as orangutans, tigers and elephants.
But huge swathes have been destroyed by palm oil, mining and timber companies in Southeast Asia's top economy, which has become the world's third-biggest carbon emitter as a result.
Under a US$1 billion conservation deal with Norway, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono two years ago signed the moratorium, which banned new logging permits for primary, or virgin, forest, which was defined as forest not logged in recent history.
Yesterday, the government confirmed Yudhoyono had signed a two-year extension and the moratorium would remain in its original form.
"The extension on the moratorium on new permits will be in place for two years from when the presidential instruction is issued," the cabinet secretariat said.
Yudhoyono signed the extension on Monday, it said.
The ban applies to new permits for primary forest and peat land with the exception of projects already approved by the forestry minister and others considered vital, such as for power production, it said.
Greenpeace criticised the government for not strengthening the ban.
"That is what's really needed if we want to save Indonesia's remaining tigers and orangutans, which are under threat from relentless palm oil and pulp and paper expansion," the group's forests campaigner Yuyun Indradi said.