The Indonesian government has started the process of converting concessions and plantations in peatlands into conservation areas in its effort to prevent peat fires, which occur every year across the country. The conversion was targeted to cover 2.5 million hectares of land.
The peat conversion plan has been laid out in four ministerial regulations issued as a follow-up of the revision of a government regulation on peatland protection and the government’s peatland hydrological area (KHG) map.
Recently completed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control directorate general, the map divides Indonesia’s peatland areas into two categories, namely conservation and production.
According to the map, there should be 12.4 million ha of conservation areas and 12.2 million ha of production areas.
Plantations in peatland that were converted into concessions will be converted back to their original functions, the ministry said.
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Signed by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar on Wednesday, the ministerial regulations stipulate that concession owners are prohibited from planting on areas designated as conservation areas.
For companies already growing commodities on the conservation areas, the government has allowed them to harvest their commodities only once.
“After that, they are not allowed to plant in the areas. They are also required to recover [the peat areas] and allow them to be used for conservation purposes,” the ministry’s sustainable forest management director-general, Ida Bagus Putera Parthama, said.
The plan will affect at least 101 concession owners, but no further details were provided about the number of plantation owners that will be affected by the changes.