Jokowi’s Move to Protect Peatland Praised

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo praised a local initiative in Riau to dam a canal in order to stop the drainage of a peat forest in Sumatra, signaling a good gesture to tackle Sumatra’s devastating forest fires.

“This canal dam, initiated by the community, is very good and must be made permanent. What’s best is for peatland to be given to the community to be managed for sago. Community management is usually environmentally friendly, but if it’s given to companies it is turned into monocultures like acacia and oil palm,” he said in Sungai Tohor village, Riau province on Thursday.

The location that had been visited by Jokowi was the same place where Greenpeace has been working with local communities to protect and restore peatlands from drainage and clearance by the plantation industry.

When asked whether he would strengthen legal protection for peatlands, the President said, “That’s right, yesterday I instructed the minister. Peatlands can’t be underestimated, they must be protected because they constitute a special ecosystem and it’s not only deep peat that must be protected, but all peat areas.”

Longgena Ginting, Greenpeace Indonesia’s country director, said he expected Jokowi’s commitment to protect the country’s peatlands would be a good sign for Indonesian forest protection given the fact that regulations on peatlands had been poorly enforced.

Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo welcome Jokowi’s vision on peatland protection, saying that it has the potential to slow Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Indonesia’s new president has wasted no time stepping into an international leadership role, well timed to position his country ahead of next week’s UNFCCC climate negotiations in Lima, Peru,” Kumi said. (dic)(++++)

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