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Indonesian president signs 3-year freeze on new oil palm licenses

Staff Writer |
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has signed a moratorium on new licenses for oil palm plantations.

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The presidential instruction, signed on Sept. 19, will remain in place for no more than three years, according to the policy document, seen by Mongabay.

Environmentalists previously called on Jokowi to impose no limit on the duration of the moratorium, arguing it should remain in place until it achieves its goals.

The policy appears to constitute a freeze on the entire licensing process for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil, a ubiquitous commodity found in everything from chocolate to laundry detergent.

It explicitly applies not just to new requests for licenses but also to projects that have obtained some but not all of the permits needed to begin operating.

The signing of the policy comes more than two years after President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, declared he would impose it.

Jokowi made the announcement in the wake of the 2015 fire and haze crisis, in which vast stretches of swampy peatland that had been drained and dried by the plantation sector burned for months, blanketing Indonesia and its neighbors in choking haze.

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