Plan to ban forest burning sparks concerns for indigenous people
In a bid to solve the haze crisis, the Indonesian government wants to scrap regulations that allow small-scale farmers to clear land by setting it on fire, but activists fear that such a move would also rule out traditional agriculture. After apologizing for the recent haze crisis, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan told a discussion organized by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club that the administration of President Joko Widodo plans to revoke regulations that allow farmers to set forests and peat lands on fire for land clearing purposes. Green groups and palm oil plantation firms say a 2009 law that allows smallholder farmers to use slash-and-burn practices to clear land for agricultural purposes is a key cause of the annual fires when the burning gets out of control. Using tractors, chainsaws or hand tools is the most environmentally friendly way to clear forest areas, but these methods are more expensive and time-consuming than fires.