Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Indonesia to relax forest protection on key projects

Reuters: Indonesia will allow some infrastructure projects deemed in the public interest such as toll roads and geothermal energy plants to operate in protected forests, the chief economics minister said on Wednesday. Under Indonesian law it is currently forbidden to undertake any kind of activity that could impact on a forest conservation area.

But chief economics minister Hatta Rajasa told reporters that the government would issue a new rule to allow some development in forests after discussions between relevant ministers. "For the public interest such infrastructure projects and geothermal projects can use protected forests," Rajasa said.

The users of protected forests would have to compensate by setting aside twice as much land within another part of the province for use as forested land, he added. The minister said the regulation would give investors certainty and denied it would disturb forest conservation.

"We know that there are many geothermal projects located in protected areas. That's why this regulation is part of the government's 100-day programme," he said. The administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who started a second term in October, has set 100-day programmes focused on removing bottlenecks that have stalled investment and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia's biggest economy….

An 1870 photo of an Indonesia forest, near what was then called Buitenzorg. From the vast haul of images from the Tropenmuseum that have recently found their way to Wikimedia Commons

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