Jokowi wants to see oxygen-rich forests in new capital

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (left) and East Kalimantan Governor Isran Noor take a stroll during a visit to the proposed location of the country's new capital in Sepaku district of North Penajam Paser, East Kalimantan on Dec. 18. - Presidential Palace Press Bureau

JAKARTA (ANN): President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has emphasised that the development of Indonesia’s new capital ─ which is to stand in an area between North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara regency in East Kalimantan ─ would be done in an environmentally-conscious manner.

Speaking after visiting the location of the would-be new administrative hub, Jokowi said that one of the most immediate priorities in the development phase was to build a nursery area for tree seedlings to rehabilitate forested areas within the new capital.

"I have instructed Environmental and Forestry Minister [Siti Nurbaya Bakar] to build a 100ha nursery that will accommodate millions of seedlings so that the [new capital] will be a verdant area full of oxygen," Jokowi told reporters in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday (Dec 18).

The new capital’s location on Borneo Island, which is strongly associated with extensive tropical rain forests that are often dubbed the world’s lungs, still has at least two areas that have good tree cover, namely the Bangkirai National Park and the Bukit Soeharto forest area.

As deforestation and illegal logging have continued in Kalimantan in the past years, concerns have been raised over what would happen to the remaining forests once the government starts building the new capital.

The 1,500-ha national park, located in the Samboja district of Kutai Kartanegara, is a tropical rain forest conservation area, with trees as much as 50 metres tall and aged more than 150 years old.

Officials are currently drafting a presidential regulation regarding the establishment of a special authority to facilitate the relocation of the capital from Jakarta.

Jokowi said the new regulation was expected to be concluded and signed by next month so the body could start working as early as next year.

In the meantime, the government is also in the process of submitting to the House of Representatives the draft of an omnibus bill on the relocation, which will amend at least 14 existing laws to facilitate the move. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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Indonesia , Kalimantan , capital , forests


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