The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News


Widodo reverses plan to dissolve peatland agency

Indonesian president bows to pressure from Church, environmental groups

Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Widodo reverses plan to dissolve peatland agency

Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire in Kampar, Riau, on Sept. 23, 2019. (Photo: Wahyudi/AFP)

Share this article :
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has canceled plans to dissolve the country’s Peatland Restoration Agency following a public outcry and after deciding the body has a pivotal role to play in protecting forests and peatland.
The agency was among 18 the president planned to dissolve to simplify bureaucracy and to cut costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The 17 other agencies were officially dissolved on July 20.

Established in January 2016, the agency aims to protect peatland from fires and exploitation.

The president’s decision was welcomed by environmental activists, who criticized the government when the agency was originally listed among the doomed agencies.

“I think the president has taken note of people’s opinions and outrage over the many incidents of peat burning each year,” Rico Kurniawan, of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment in Riau, Sumatra, told UCA News.
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko had earlier said the agency had performed satisfactorily but its functions could be handled by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and the Agriculture Ministry.
However, environmentalists said the role of the agency was significant and it should be given more time to carry out its role.
The agency was established in response to some of the country’s worst forest fires that broke out in 2015. It was tasked with restoring up to 2.67 million hectares of peatland across Papua, Central Kalimantan, Riau, West Kalimantan and South Sumatera.

However, peatland remains under threat from big business.

Kurniawan said that although the agency has not yet met people’s expectations in protecting peatland, it is still needed to curb forest and peat fires.
“It has a strategic mission to protect the environment and [indigenous] people’s welfare,” he told UCA News.
The advantage it has is that it has a comprehensive structure from ministry to village level.

Sacred Heart Father Ansel Amo, who heads Merauke Archdiocese’s Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation in Papua, said the move to keep the agency was a good decision.
According to Father Amo, the agency’s role will be more significant if it is coupled with the government not granting permits to exploit peatland areas.
“We hope the government will ban any kind of investment, including agriculture and plantations, in peatland areas,” the priest said.
According to Greenpeace Indonesia, more than 260,000 hectares of peatland are burned every year across the country, destroying ecosystems and adding to climate change.

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCA News Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution