Indonesia moves toward deforestation approval

ABC News

The Indonesian Government says it plans to approve a proposal to free up vast areas of protected virgin rainforest on Sumatra island for commercial exploitation.

The plan to also needs the backing of the Aceh provincial parliament.

Rights groups have reacted angrily and say the move will only benefit foreign companies and not people from the area.

But Canadian mining company East Asia Minerals, which conducts gold exploration in Aceh, says the plan to clear 1.2 million hectares is “positive news” for mining in the area.

An Indonesian forestry ministry spokesman says the government aims to approve the plan “in up to a month”.

The head of the Aceh parliamentary committee overseeing the project, Tengku Anwar, says it has a lot of support in the legislature.

“We hope it will go through as soon as possible,” he said.

Approval of the plan would open up the forest, on the northern tip of Sumatra province and home to critically endangered animals for mining, paper and palm oil plantations.

The Aceh government banned the granting of new logging permits six years ago to protect the forest, but a new administration that came in last year is in favour of allowing logging again.

But Friends of the Earth Indonesia campaigner Dedi Ratih says the plan must be “immediately rejected”.

The plan “is being developed via a highly unhealthy process, in which foreign corporations are intervening and driving local policy”, he said.

AFP

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About endoftheicons

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

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