Jokowi’s forests protection promises tested as fires rise

Press release - August 2, 2017
JAKARTA, July 28, 2017 -Two years after devastating fires plunged Indonesia into crisis, President Joko Widodo’s promises on forest and peat protection are being tested as forest fires break out across Indonesia and five provinces have declared states of emergency.

Greenpeace analysis of the government’s own data and methodology show that fires hotspots have nearly doubled in less than three months, with 148 hotspots registered in May and 283 so far this July [1]. A new version of the moratorium was presented on Monday with no significant improvement from its previous versions, and was followed by President Jokowi urging his ministers to put regulations at the service of business.[2]

Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia said:

“The government hasn’t done enough and now the lack of law enforcement could restart a humanitarian catastrophe and huge economic losses for the country, as we experienced during the tragic events of 2015 that cost an estimated 100, 000 premature deaths [3] and billions to the economy [4] .

“Companies benefit from poorly enforced laws in order to keep clearing forests and draining peatland, which is the main cause of the fires that are again putting children in hospitals and forcing people to leave their homes”.

Concern is also growing in neighbouring countries since Aceh region in Sumatra, is among the worst hit area and is just 750 km from Kuala Lumpur. [5]

“The government keeps promising a haze-free year to its neighbouring countries [6], but it is premature to make this claim. To tackle the haze crisis, firstly we need to stop all further development on forested peatlands; secondly we must restore already drained priority areas; and finally, ensure that consistent and systematic law enforcement is put in place.”

The Indonesian government reports that in 2015 more than 2 million hectares were burnt. The link between the fires and plantation development is well documented. Greenpeace analysis shows that during the height of the crisis -1st August - 26th October- nearly 40% of fires were in identified concessions granted by the government for logging or pulp and oil palm plantations. Almost half of the fires were on peatland – wetland areas that only become vulnerable to fire when they are cleared and drained, part of the plantation development process [7].

“There can be no hope for Indonesian rainforests and peatland until plantation companies demonstrate serious efforts to change their practices in order to prevent fires. If they continue this reckless destruction, fires and the toxic haze will return year after year”.


Notes to editor:

[1] LAPAN: and
SiPongi/Karhutla Monitoring Sistem:

Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner Greenpeace Indonesia, +628111097527;
Sol Gosetti, media officer, +447807352020,

Recent forest fires photos:
Jurnasyanto Sukarno, Photo Editor Greenpeace ,
+62 812-8827-0737​⁠​