Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has blamed foreign countries for destroying Indonesia’s forests, and wants them to pay to help restore the damaged land.
“What happens here is not only our problem. The foreign people also destroyed our forests,” said Kalla when officiating the Indonesia Forest Congress in Jakarta on Wednesday (Nov 30).
Kalla said he has brought up this point at various international forums, and is angry with those who accused Indonesia for not managing its forest well.
“During a big conference in Tokyo, someone said that Indonesia has forests, but they are damaged and should be restored,” said Kalla. “I became angry in front of thousands of people. I said, ‘this is a chair, this is a door, this is a window from my country. You take, and pay $5, and you bring it here, and sell for $100. Indonesian companies just get $5’.
“There is Mitsubishi from Japan, Hyundai and others, they finished what we have. I told them, ‘you have to pay, if not we will cut down all the trees, and let the world feel the heat’. So, the world must also be responsible.”
He added that Indonesia’s peatland restoration efforts should not be funded by the state, instead contributions should come from the international community.
Indonesia set up the Peatland Restoration Agency after the massive forest fires last year. The agency’s goal is to restore some two million hectares of damaged peatland, and it needs at least US$1 billion in funding over five years.
In 2010, Norway pledged US$1 billion for the Reducing Emissions and Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme. But the funds have yet to be released because Indonesia has not put in place any REDD programmes.
Norway’s climate and environment minister visited Indonesia earlier this year to see the progress for himself. Despite the lack of progress, Norway said the funding is still being made available for Indonesia.
KALLA REMINDS MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR FRESH AIR
Kalla also reminded Indonesia’s neighbours not to complain when there is haze in the region. He said: “Malaysia and Singapore get angry because of the forest fires. It’s so easy to say, but you think we also don’t feel it? We feel it even more. Secondly, if you get fresh air from Sumatra, Kalimantan, you don’t say thank you. So, if you get the haze, why should I apologise?
“The world has to pay for all of this. Don’t always accuse Indonesia. I never want to be accused. Even if we are wrong, why do we still give out so many permits (for land)?”
Forest fires in Indonesia has been an annual problem, resulting in haze that blankets and choke parts of the country and the region. The fires are caused by farmers and corporations using the slash-and-burn method, which is the easiest, and cheapest, to clear the land for plantation.