Indonesia– President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said the ban on the issuance of new licenses for cultivation on peatland was intended to prevent fires that are difficult to extinguish.
“I want to emphasize that new permits for (cultivation) on peatland areas should no longer be issued,” said President Jokowi during a National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Prevention at the State Palace here on Monday.
The president also ordered the environment and forestry minister to take over care of burnt peatlands.
He further instructed the newly established Peat land Restoration Agency (BRG) to work out immediate plans for caring for burnt peat land areas.
Jokowi said peatland fires were a serious problem. “I have explained to heads of state, that what were burned were not forest areas, but peatland, whose fires, if not immediately put out, could reach down to three to four meters blow the surface, and that is very difficult to extinguish,” he noted.
He also said it was very difficult to put out such fires, even when using water bombing aircraft.
The president stressed that efforts to prevent and put out land and forest fires this year should be improved. Fires should not be allowed to grow before efforts to extinguish them are made.
“There are no other choices than improving the handling of the ecosystem,” Jokowi added.
President Jokowi earlier said that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to the countrys peatland, as is clear from the setting up of a peat land restoration agency.
“We can convince the international community that we are serious, very serious, about handling the damage to the peatland,” he said, while announcing the establishment of the peat land restoration agency at the Merdeka Palace on Wednesday last week.
Land and forest fires, which affected several provinces in Indonesia last year, serve as a valuable lesson for President Jokowis administration.
In this regard, he set up the agency under presidential regulation number 1 of 2016.
“I want to announce the creation of the peatland restoration body through a presidential regulation I signed early this month,” he said.
Jokowi also introduced Nazir Foead as the agencys chief.
The president assigned the agency to draft an action plan to immediately show the world that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to its peatland.
And again, the president stressed that the nation must learn a lesson from last years land and forest fires which occurred in several parts of the country.
“Although these (land and forest fires) have happened repeatedly in the past 18 years, they serve as a valuable lesson,” he said.