Indonesia — Ten Sumatran governors have pledged to restore forests and promote environmental sustainability by advocating for integrated spatial planning on the island. The governors signed an agreement Friday to protect Sumatra’s ecosystem and depleted forests. As part of the agreement, the governors will restore damaged forests, protect existing forests and the sensitive ecosystem across the island.
They will also offer incentives to encourage local administrations to implement nature conservation programs. State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said that spatial planning in Sumatra should be oriented toward balancing both economic and environmental factors. “Sumatra is currently one of the islands with the fastest deforestation rate in the country and is the largest *exporter’ of haze to neighboring nations from its forest fires,” Rachmat said.
“Thus, it is in your hands *governors* to increase the protected areas from the current rate of 30 percent to the ideal rate of at least 40 percent.” Noted environmentalist, Emil Salim, warned the governors to learn from the poor environmental management of Java, which has caused repeated natural disasters, especially floods in the region. “Don’t make the same mistake as Java,” he said.
Data from the Office for the State Minister for the Environment reveals that 7.5 percent of Java is covered by forest, while 32 percent of Sumatra is forest. Papua has the largest area of forests in the country, with 79 percent, followed by Maluku with 72 percent. Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said the plan to protect Sumatra’s natural environment was crucial to solving the critical condition of rivers in Sumatra. “There are 14 critical rivers in Sumatra and cooperation between the local administration and the local community to improve the quality of the rivers is urgently needed,” he said.