Indonesia bans logging permitsJAKARATA

-- Indonesia has declared a moratorium on logging permits in 158 million acres of virgin forest.

The restriction, issued as a decree by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, bans peat harvesting as well,. The moratorium is funded by $1 billion from Norway under a U.N.-backed Reduced Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation program.

Indonesia bans logging permitsNorway and Indonesia agreed in May 2010 to enter into a partnership to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests and peat lands. Indonesia said it would take immediate and decisive action to reduce its forest and peat related greenhouse gas emissions. Norway pledged to support those efforts with $1 billion over several years.

“Indonesia is a key country in terms of reducing deforestation, therefore this agreement and Indonesia's commitment is a great step forward in achieving large scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at the time. “I look forward to cooperating with President Yudhoyono and Indonesia on this important issue.”

That announcement was made at a joint press conference held by President Yudhoyono, and the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg (shown), timed to coincide with the 2010 Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, where a global climate and forest partnership was established.

Indonesia bans logging permitsExisting permits and ongoing permitted logging operations are unaffected by the restrictions, which has brought some criticism by environmental groups. (A copy of the forest protection decree in Indonesian is here provided by REDD.) The impact on U.S. manufacturers such as Furniture Brands, which operates a 330,000-square-foot furniture making complex in Indonesia (the former Maitland Smith plant, shown left) that it is in the process of relocating, is yet to be determined. Furniture Brands said during its earnings announcement the plant is being relocated, since its current coastal site is being inundated by rising ocean waters.

Indonesia issued a related statement on protecting Papua forest lands, posted here in a rough Google-generated translation.

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