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Government speed up forest management implementation

Jakarta, Ekuatorial – With one month left in office, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration is speeding up its forest management efforts which include permits issuance, boundaries settlement, and land ownerships.

These are several major themes will be discussed in the two days meeting set up by President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+ Agency), on September 15-16, in Jakarta.

The meeting, which also included Ministry of Home Affairs, Corruption Eradication Commission, National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas), and Geospatial Information Agency, was a part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between 12 ministries and institutions on Forest Area Stipulation Acceleration Program, signed in 2013 witnessed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The MoU was nicknamed as “Supersemar on Forestry” by activists as it was signed on March 11, the same date with Supersemar, the Indonesian abbreviation for Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret (Order of March of Eleventh), a document signed by late President Soekarno giving power to then army commander Lt. Gen. Suharto to assume highest position in the country.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of UKP4, said that uncertainties over area boundaries have caused budget inefficiency and difficulties in determine regional spatial planning which was the key instrument in development and natural resources management.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was cited that uncertainty over forest areas gazettment was among 17 potential loopholes for corruption in forestry sector.

Only 13.8 million out of the total of 122,404,872.67 hectares of forest areas, or 11.2 percent, managed to have clear status. The remaining are still in grey areas. This condition has triggered corruptions and more land conflicts, which involves overlapping permits between governments, between government and local people, and between companies and local people.

In separate place, Executive director of Epistema Institute, Myrna A. Safitri, said that the government’s economic policy since the Independence in 1945 was the cause for the long delay of forest areas stipulation.

The forest areas gazettment, Safitri said, was conducted without forest areas stipulation which required ground checking to avoid any overlapping boundaries.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Said, Director of Forest Areas Stipulation, Management, and Tenure of the Ministry of Forestry admitted the government’s weakness. “[However] other factor is that more often forest areas gazettments are collided with regional spatial planning changes,” he said adding that boundaries mapping have reached 219,206 km out of 282,323 km or 77.6 percent.

The meeting targeted that boundaries and forest areas gazettment would be completed 68 percent out of total areas, or 83 million hectares by December 2014. In addition, the Ministry of Forestry will be finalizing all areas or 100 percent by the end of 2015. Ekuatorial Team

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