JAKARTA — The government announced Friday it would issue a national strategic plan within a few months to develop more than 20 million hectares of peat lands across the country.
State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said his office would coordinate five ministries to design an integrated policy to manage millions of hectares of peat land, mostly in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua.
“We want to restructure the development in the areas, partially to reduce the potential risks of annual fires there, which produce harmful haze that spreads to neighboring countries,” he said.
Rachmat said the plan would attempt to find the best way to rehabilitate about 2.6 million hectares of fire-damaged peat land in Sumatra and one million hectares in Central Kalimantan.
Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said an integrated policy would ensure government institutions didn’t get involved in a “blame game”, their usual response if they were questioned about environmental degradation.
“We want the country to have an integrated, sustainable and environmentally-friendly strategy to develop peat land.”
The government would form peat land management bodies in the provinces to implement the strategy, Anton said.