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There was a long list of issues on the Norwegians’ agenda at each Jakarta meeting, but one of the thorniest concerned reform of Indonesia’s chaotic system of land use management. Because different government ministries and agencies have each developed their own land use maps, the country is littered with examples of overlapping permits for different activities.
Adding to the confusion, provincial and district governments gained more control over land use after the end of Suharto’s rule, and they sometimes issued permits that were in conflict with what Jakarta had approved. “That mess has helped to allow deforestation,” said Frances Seymour, a US forestry policy expert who in 2006-2012 ran the Center for International Forestry Research, which has its headquarters in Indonesia.
One obvious solution to the tree loss problem, for example, is for plantation companies to use land that has already been cleared. But Ms Seymour said companies often explain they prefer uncleared forest because they can be more certain no one else has a prior claim to the land.