Indonesia to extend ban on forest clearing - govt

JAKARTA Fri May 10, 2013 9:35am EDT

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JAKARTA May 10 (Reuters) - The president of Indonesia, home to the world's third-largest tropical forests and a powerful palm oil industry, has agreed to extend a ban on forest clearing, a government official said on Friday.

Southeast Asia's largest economy is under international pressure to curb deforestation and destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests that palm oil and mining companies say they need for expansion.

The world's biggest producer of palm oil imposed a two-year moratorium on clearing forest in May 2011 under a $1 billion climate deal with Norway aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation, covering 65 million hectares of forests, but this is due to expire on May 20.

"The president has agreed... It should be signed in one or two days. It may have been already," an official said, referring to a revised moratorium and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Another source with direct knowledge of the matter said the revised moratorium document would be signed before the existing ban ends, extending it to October or December 2014.

Earler, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a technocrat who oversees forestry sector reform and heads a presidential delivery unit aimed at cutting through red tape, said he had recommended Indonesia extend the ban. (Reporting by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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