It’s always easy to look at a glass and say it’s half-empty rather than half-full.
But in the case of Indonesia, a megadiversity nation, even critical observers would have to acknowledge there’s been a fair bit of good news recently. Here’s a brief synopsis of some of the positive signs:
President Jokowi’s choice for Minister of Environment and Forestry, Dr Siti Nurbaya, appears to be a particularly good appointment.
Dr Siti has been active on many fronts—including cracking down on illegal peat-land destruction, wildfires, and wildlife poaching, and urging protection of the critical Greater Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra—the last place on Earth where orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos still coexist.
Impressively, President Jokowi has also pledged a moratorium on new oil palm and mining concessions in forested areas across Indonesia.
And he’s been especially active in combating the menace of forest and peat fires that have blanketed parts of Southeast Asia in a dense, unhealthy haze.
Furthermore, as bannered by ALERT two weeks ago, the leaders of Papua Province—which spans four-tenths of the sprawling island of New Guinea—have pledged to protect at least 83 percent, and possibly up to 90 percent, of its land area for conservation.
This high-profile commitment moves Papua Province into the spotlight as a global conservation leader.
The adjoining Province of West Papua is also pushing its green credentials, and wants to be known as a “conservation province”.
And possibly the best news of all: In northern Sumatra, Irwandi Yusuf was just re-elected as Governor of Aceh Province.
Irwandi has an excellent reputation. Among his first promises on being re-elected is that a controversial geothermal plant and associated road network—which would have carved into the heart of the Leuser Ecosystem—will be cancelled.
Civil-society organizations are holding great hopes that Irwandi will promote sustainable development pathways in Aceh while standing tall for the Greater Leuser Ecosystem.
Not all Roses
Of course, it’s not all good news in Indonesia.
For instance, as reported this week by ForestHints.News, ANJT, a major company listed on the Indonesian stock exchange, is clearing a vast expanse of old-growth rainforest for oil palm plantations in West Papua Province. The area of forest to be felled is three-quarters the size of the nation of Singapore.
Beyond this, huge expanses of native forest are still in active oil palm, mining, woodpulp, and logging concessions in Indonesia, some located in environmentally critical areas such as the Leuser Ecosystem.
Runs on the Board
But on balance, one has to look at the scorecard and say the past several months have been pretty positive for Indonesia—significant accomplishments given the nation’s pressing economic and social needs.
Credit is due to Indonesia and its leaders for tackling some of its most important environmental challenges. At the moment, the glass is looking half-full.