Six Years of Moratorium: How Much of Indonesia’s Forests Protected?

Millions of Hectares Disappear From Moratorium Map; Promises Unfulfilled on Indigenous Land Rights, Transparency and Social Forestry

Press release - May 4, 2017
Jakarta, 4 May 2017 – During the six years since its declaration, the area protected under Indonesia’s moratorium on new licenses in primary forest and peatland has undergone ten revisions, which saw it cut by 2.7 million hectares, an area around five times the size of Bali. During this time, fires and deforestation have also ravaged those areas which retained protected status.

With the moratorium due to expire on May 13, the Civil Society Coalition to Save Indonesia’s Forests and the Global Climate today presented its evaluation of the policy’s shortcomings, and urged the President to take concrete steps committing to ‘Zero Deforestation by 2020’. The steps include issuing a presidential regulation to replace the current Presidential Instruction, which is legally unenforceable.

“The moratorium should be protecting an increasingly broad area of forest and peatland, but the reality has been a dwindling area under protection, through a decision-making process which remains obscure. A lack of government transparency in forest management is the main reason why the moratorium policy has been ineffective,” said Linda Rosalina from Forest Watch Indonesia.  

Over the past few decades, deforestation has led to environmental disaster, with serious impacts on public welfare. Forest and peat fires are an annual scourge, with the last three months of 2015 bringing deadly air pollution to catastrophic new highs. The Government of Indonesia initially stated its commitment to improve forest and peatland governance through Presidential Instruction No. 10 of 2011 on Suspension of Issuance of New Licenses and Improvement of Governance of Primary Natural Forest and Peatland. That two-year moratorium was merely extended without improvements via Presidential Instruction No. 6 of 2013, and most recently through Presidential Instruction No. 8 of 2015.

“In practice, although it has been in place for six years, the moratorium has not been able to address problems in primary forest and peatland governance. The policy has been only partially implemented and has not brought significant improvements in protection of remaining natural forest and peatland,” said Yustina Murdiningrum from Epistema Institute.

Zainuri Hasyim from Kaoem Telapak said that during 2015, 69,044 fire hotspots were detected across Indonesia via satellite. Of those, around 31% (21,552 hotspots) were burning in areas which should have been protected under the Moratorium Indicative Map (PIPPIB). Zainuri pointed to an upward trend over the years from 2011 to 2016, during which time an average 28.5% of hotspots were detected inside moratorium areas.

In the meantime, even as the area of land encompassed by the Moratorium Indicative Map shrank from Revision I to Revision XI, the policy has failed to stem deforestation. Within the remaining ostensibly protected area, deforestation processes have seen actual forest cover decrease by 831,053 hectares.

Another problem pertains to the inclusion of community-managed forest areas within the Moratorium Indicative Map. Their inclusion has the potential to threaten existing social forestry licenses and hamper issuance of new licenses, which recognize the right of local communities to sustainable forest management. This impedes realization of the president’s social forestry target of 12.7 million hectares.

“The status of forest areas is still being redesignated to make way for mega projects in many regions. This is a threat not only to forests and peatlands but also the rights of indigenous people and local communities,” said Yoseph Watopa from YALI Papua.

The moratorium has failed to stop deforestation and address problems in primary natural forest and peatland governance because:

  1. Declared only via Presidential Instructions, the forest moratorium lacks the force of law and bears no legal consequences if violated;

  2. The Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources are not referenced in Presidential Instructions 10/2011, 6/2013, and 8/2015. They must be included as instructed parties given the expansion of mining and plantations into forest areas;

  3. The policy does not protect secondary forests, even though these now comprise much of Indonesia’s good remaining forest cover. Instead, most of the current moratorium covers areas already legally off-limits, such as conservation areas and protection forest (hutan lindung);

  4. The policy has serious loopholes in the form of exceptions that weaken the objective of suspending further deforestation. Exception is made for forest-clearing proposals that have already obtained ‘in-principle’ approvals, infrastructure projects, and for extension of forest exploitation or forest use licenses as long as they are still valid;

  5. A refusal to release to the public maps and information regarding forest and natural resources management, and a lack of transparency in the process of repeatedly revising the Moratorium Indicative Map; and

  6. Different interpretations regarding what constitutes peatland between regional governments and the technical implementing unit of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, resulting in exclusion of peatland areas that should be protected from the Indicative Map of Moratorium.

Forests are critical for the sustainability of Indonesia’s economy and are the last stronghold mitigating environmental and global climate disasters. Bearing this in mind, the Coalition fully supports the President of Indonesia and urges him to strengthen his commitment to forest and peatland ecosystem protection by issuing a Presidential Regulation to ensure a stronger legal basis. The Coalition also urges the President and other stakeholders to take the following strategic measures:

  1. Develop an Indonesian Roadmap Towards Zero Deforestation by 2020;

  2. Develop a National Action Plan Towards Zero Deforestation by 2020;

  3. Monitor the implementation of the National Action Plan Towards Zero Deforestation by 2020;

  4. Accelerate publication of the One Map;

  5. Conduct an integrated evaluation of existing licenses in forest areas; and

  6. Conduct law enforcement and alternative dispute resolution.

“These six strategic measures would constitute a positive, strong and measurable signal from the Indonesian Government to the world, a concrete step towards implementing President Jokowi’s Paris promise of 2015 to end tropical forest destruction,” said Teguh Surya from Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan.      [ENDS]



  1. Linda Rosalina (FWI), +6285710886024

  2. Yustina Murdiningrum (Epistema Institute), +6282226540885

  3. Zainuri Hasyim  (Kaoem Telapak), +62 811-754-409

  4. Yoseph Watopa (Yali Papua), +6281344835232

  5. Teguh Surya (Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan), +6281915191979


Civil Society Coalition to Save Indonesian Forests and the Global Climate

Madani I Kaoem Telapak I FWI I Epistema I JKPP I Pusaka I WRI Indonesia

Greenpeace Indonesia I JPIK I Sawit Watch I Kemitraan

Aksi! for Gender I Walhi Kalteng I Paradisea I YCMM I HuMA I DebtWatch I Yayasan Merah Putih I WARSI I Silva Papua I YALI Papua I PTPPMA Papua I KpSHK I Lembang Nusa Kalimantan Barat I ELSAM I Solidaritas Perempuan