New Regulation on HTI Development Potentially Weakens the Protection of Peat Ecosystem

Siti Nurbaya
Minister of Environment and Forestry
Category : Peat Restoration
Supports the umbrella pledge


PermenLHK No 62 Pembangunan HTI

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) has just reissued the Ministerial Regulation concerning the Development of Industrial Plantation Forests (HTI) No. P.62/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/10/2019. This regulation replaces the Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number P.12/MENLHK-II/2015 concerning the Development of Industrial Plantation Forests as amended by the Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number P.17/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/2 /2017 which was revoked because it is no longer in line with legal developments and the need for HTI. 

This regulation is made to increase forest productivity, achieve the sustainability of forest products as industrial raw materials, diversify forest products, improve environmental quality, and empower local communities. An analysis of areas with the Business License for the Utilization of Timber Forest Products in Industrial Plantation Forest (IUPHHK-HTI) is carried out to optimize production by taking into account the environmental and social balance. The results of the identification and analysis of IUPHHK-HTI areas aim to obtain information on:  

  1. logged-over areas that still have forest and are maintained as protected areas;  
  2. logged-over areas that still have forest and must be cultivated;   
  3. non-forested/unproductive areas that can be cultivated;  
  4. natural forest areas with the characteristics of forest resources that can be cultivated using the silvicultural system of clear-felling with artificial regeneration (THPB) and non-THPB;  
  5. changes in the function of forest areas and other information related to the condition of the work areas. 

In this regulation, there are several main points regarding peat ecosystem management for IUPHHK HTI that draw attention: 

  1. The specific area on top of peat domes is included in the identification of IUPHHK-HTI area  
    This regulation states that peat forest areas in the form of peat dome peaks or areas with peat thickness of 3 (three) meters or more located in upstream rivers or swamps are included in Criterion 2 in the identification of IUPHHK-HTI areas. The Previous Ministerial Regulations have not stated the identification of IUPHHK-HTI areas in detail: The function of the Peat Ecosystem is managed based on the provisions of the applicable laws and regulations, namely Government Regulation number 57 of 2016. This narrative adopts the latest regulation issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry number P.10/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/3/2019 concerning peat domes. 
  2. Changes in the classification of spatial planning for IUPHHK HTI work areas 
    This new regulation states that the IUPHHK HTI work area ​​includes cultivation areas and protected areas. The previous regulation, P.17/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/2/2017, describes the spatial layout of the ​​IUPHHK HTI work areas:
    • Main crop area:  areas to produce timber as the main forest product
    • Community crop area: areas with high community interaction/dependence and/or areas prone to conflict when empowering local communities through partnership pattern
    • Locally protected areas and other conservation areas:  water catchment areas, coastal borders, river borders, areas around reservoirs/lakes, springs, mangrove forests, and protected animal habitats.
    • Peat ecosystem conservation area: peatlands that meet the criteria as conservation areas as set out in the Peat Ecosystem function map 
  3. Development of HTI facilities and infrastructure in conservation areas
    This ministerial regulation sets out that the construction and/or development of facilities and infrastructure can be carried out in cultivation and conservation areas without any clarity on the type of supporting infrastructure in each area. In fact, this regulation states that conservation areas include areas for land clearing and other activities related to the construction of facilities and infrastructure that potentially damage the area.
  4. Utilization of the Peat Ecosystem Conservation (FLEG) area and peat dome peak  
    There are sentences that contradict each other in this ministerial regulation. The regulation states that peat dome peaks are conservation areas and the utilization is limited to activities that do not exceed the standard criteria for damage to the Peat Ecosystem, such as research, science, education, utilization of non-timber forest products, and environmental services. However, there are also conflicting provisions regarding FLEG in this legal instrument. The transitional provision states that FLEG outside the Peat Dome Peak area can be managed and allocated as a cultivation area. Furthermore, if there are plants on the peat dome peak area, it can be harvested for 1 (one) cycle followed by restoration.  
    Previous HTI development regulations showed stronger efforts to protect peat ecosystems. The regulation stated that the result of overlaying the Business Work Plan (RKU) map with a map of peat areas that shows FLEG and peat domes that have not been planted must be maintained as a conservation area
  5. Land Swap mechanism for companies whose work areas are located in FLEG areas is eliminated
    In the third quarter of 2017, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry issued Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation No. P.40/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/6/2017 concerning Government Facilitation in Industrial Plantation Forest Businesses for the Protection and Management of Peat Ecosystems. This Ministerial Regulation was issued to resolve problems in the areas with ​​a business license for the utilization of timber forest products in IUPHHK-HTI and to manage peat ecosystems to prevent forest and land fires. The regulation explains that IUPHHK-HTI holders with at least 40% of their working area designated as FLEG can apply for land swap in production forest areas with mineral soil.  Furthermore, ​​40% of the proposed land swap area must be allocated for community businesses, and 60% for IUPHHK-HTI holder businesses. The lack of elaboration of the land swap mechanism in the basic rules for HTI development raises questions about the government's seriousness in protecting the peat ecosystem, even though the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has seriously committed to protecting the peat ecosystem in its press release in July 2017 and has allocated land swap areas of ​​approximately 902,210 hectares. 

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