President signs revised peat regulation, ending business-as-usual practices

JAKARTA ( - President Joko Widodo has signed a revised government regulation clarifying the Indonesian government’s level of commitment in providing protection and management of peatland ecosystems.

“On Thursday night, the President signed a revised government regulation concerning the protection and management of peatland ecosystems,” Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya told on Friday (Dec 2).

This revised government regulation has long been awaited by a range of stakeholders, considering the high degree of interest they retain in this issue.

To the relief of these stakeholders, the President eventually signed the revised government regulation which clearly demonstrates the President’s strong stance in favor of peatland protection.

“Since early February this year, we have been consistently facilitating the process of revising this government regulation by holding in-depth dialogues with a wide variety of stakeholders. So, this is really great news for peatland protection in Indonesia. We would like to express our utmost gratitude to the President,” the minister enthused.

The minister went on to say that she had been directly and continuously participating in the government regulation revision process right up to its signing by the President.

She pointed out that the regulation revision process had been both long and exhausting as it was very intensive and targeted for completion this year. This lengthy process, the minister added, has given rise to great hope that Indonesia's peatlands can be better protected and managed for the sake of their own sustainability.

“We don’t want to see the continuation of business-as-usual practices with respect to peatlands. We will keep monitoring this on the ground level and will not hesitate to impose harsh sanctions (for any peatland violation),” the minister affirmed.

In fact, her ministry is currently very active in monitoring any business-as-usual approaches being used for the exploitation of peatlands. An example of this is the utilization of last year’s burned peatlands for the replanting of acacia by pulpwood companies as well as new planting performed by palm oil companies.

The ministry’s recent observations have demonstrated how various companies continue to commit serious violations in last year’s burned peatlands in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) regency in the province of South Sumatra, one of the President’s designated peat restoration priority regencies.

“We should be extremely grateful for President Joko Widodo’s leadership in terms of peatland protection which has been nothing short of extraordinary. Now, we need to ensure that the implementation (of the revised regulation) is in line with the President’s expectations,” the minister cautioned.

President Joko Widodo is very highly committed to the protection of peatlands, particularly in the wake of last year’s peat fires, in the first year of his administration, which were severely detrimental to the public and also constrained the rate of national economic growth.