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Minister Siti Nurbaya counters 12.5 million hectares deforestation claim

Jakarta Globe - January 24, 2024

Faisal Maliki Baskoro, Jakarta – The Environment and Forestry Minister, Siti Nurbaya, has denied the statement made by vice-presidential candidate Mohammad Mahfud MD, who claimed that deforestation in Indonesia had reached 12.5 million hectares since 2013.

Siti and the President/CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI Global) Ani Dasgupta signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Feb. 2023. Among the key initiatives was the correction of deforestation data from the Global Forest Watch (GFW).

The ministry and WRI rectified the deforestation data for Indonesia in 2022 from GFW, reducing it by nearly 54 percent. The initial area of 230,000 hectares has been adjusted to 107,000 hectares.

"The results of this joint analysis can be accessed on the Global Forest Watch website," said Minister Siti Nurbaya during her field visit to Sebangau National Park with the United States Forest Service (USFS) Chief Randy Moore on Wednesday.

Minister Siti Nurbaya explained that the correction was carried out after a joint field review in June 2022. Representatives from the Norwegian government also participated in the field inspection, witnessing firsthand that non-natural forest areas (such as oil palm plantations, timber plantations, and community gardens) were incorrectly classified as primary forests.

"Incorporating non-natural forest areas into the deforestation calculation on Global Forest Watch was clearly a mistake. The correction process continues through our technical partnership with WRI," Minister Siti added.

"It is important to emphasize that Global Forest Watch does not conduct field checks. Therefore, together with WRI, we collaborate to strengthen forest data based on field facts," she stressed.

In addition to these corrections, Minister Siti Nurbaya also mentioned that the ministry and WRI are taking technical steps to rectify inaccuracies in the data on forest fires from the GFW.

"The Global Forest Watch data on forest fires suggests that serious incidents occurred in 2016 and 2020. In reality, these incidents occurred in 2015 and 2019," Minister Siti said.

"Initial corrections have been made by adding technical explanations at the bottom of the Global Forest Watch graph related to Indonesia. This information can be viewed on their website."

Minister Siti Nurbaya also shared the latest developments from the implementation of the MOU with WRI. At the end of February, a joint analysis will be conducted on the 2023 deforestation data from GFW.

"A team from the University of Maryland (as the data provider), Global Forest Watch, and WRI DC will come to Jakarta at the end of February to work together with the KLHK team in preparing joint analyses and field reviews," she said, adding that the Norwegian government will lend its support in updating the deforestation data.

"So, it's not about interpreting the data differently, but specific aspects of the GFW data required correction. Some have already been corrected, and others are currently undergoing correction," she said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/minister-siti-nurbaya-counters-125-million-hectares-deforestation-clai