Siti seeks to convince EU on improvement in forest protection

London (ANTARA News) - Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has visited Brussels seeking to convince the European Union Parliament that Indonesia has taken concrete steps to protect its tropical forests.

The EU Parliament has passed a resolution boycotting Indonesian products of palm oil-based biofuels on allegation that oil palm plantations had caused extensive damage to the countrys tropical forest.

During her stay in Brussels from March 25 to 26 Siti met with Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the EU Parliament explaining the steps the government has taken to cope with alleged deforestation in Indonesia, Minister Counsellor Politics at Indonesian embassy in Brussel, Fahmi Jamaludin, said in a statement received by ANTARA London, on Wednesday.

Siti told Heidi Hautala under the present government the ratio of deforestation has dropped sharply from 1.09 million hectares to 0.61 million hectare a year and it is expected to narrow to 0.45 million hectares in 2020 and to 0.35 million hectare in 2030.

She attributed the progress made in forest protection to moratorium in conversion of peat lands, more effective law enforcement and better adoption of good governance in the regions.

Hautala, a politician from Finland expressed appreciation for the Indonesian government improving land management.

He said the documents on the plan to slap high import duty on Indonesian palm oil products is open to the public to make it easy for Indonesian government to study the process and prepare and submit response.

Siti, accompanied by Indonesian Ambassador Yuri O. Thamrin also said that more than 4 million Indonesians directly and 21 million other indirectly had their livelihood in palm oil-related sectors, and 42 percent of them are smallholder farmers.

Siti also met with Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries which is in charge of environment affairs. The two appreciated cooperation in the development of Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), which is the first running scheme of under the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT).

The FLEGT scheme would be adopted for the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) scheme to be made effective with Presidential Regulation toward the end of 2018, the minister said.

"The idea is welcomed by the EU as it attaches great importance to transparency. In addition, the EU proposed integration of ISPO with the International Responsible Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) scheme," she said.

Ambassador Thamrin said there are still loopholes in the access of certified timber products to the EU, and the rival suppliers with non-certified products often took advantage of the loopholes.

He said not all Port Authorities in UE are fully aware of the FLEGT, therefore, EU is expected to address that weakness in its enforcement.

Indonesia strongly protested the EU parliament passing the resolution accusing the EU of discriminating against Indonesia over boycott on Indonesian biofuel products.

Europe is one of the largest markets for Indonesias palm oil, one of the countrys major export earner.

Source: ANTARA News

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