Archive | March 2012

Online Petition: Enforce the law protecting Tripa Peat Swamp and its Orangutan populations

Dear Friends,
Online Petition is up and running.
Please help sign and distribute it. Your support will determine the future of Indonesian forest. All we want is for the government to uphold their law. If they fail to save the protected forest, forget about attempting to rescue the rest.

Online Petition: Enforce the law protecting Tripa Peat Swamp and its Orangutan populations

against all odds, We want to see JUSTICE taking place in Indonesia. We need your URGENT help.

Please sign this online petition and distribute it widely. Never underestimate the power of your friends.

Demand for survival

Tripa Peat Swamps and their Orangutans being cremated to annihilation:  Government of Indonesia must uphold law or face international shame

We, Walhi Indonesia, Greenpeace Indonesia, Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari, Sawit Watch Indonesia, the Coalition Team for Saving the Tripa Peat Swamps, are here today to demand the following:

  1. The immediate enforcement of laws protecting the Leuser Ecosystem, including the Tripa Peat Swamps, namely: The Spatial Planning Law (UU 26/2007) and subsequent Government Regulation (PP 26/2008) which establishes the Leuser Ecosystem as a National Strategic Area with an environmental protection function; and the Law of the Governance of Aceh (UU11/2006) which obligates the Government and the Government of Aceh to protect the Leuser Ecosystem.
  2. That the National Police immediately investigate the allegations made by local community members on the 23rd of November 2011 of the breaking of both the National Spatial Planning Law, and the Law on the Governance of Aceh, by the Governor of Aceh when he issued a new concession to PT Kallista Alam for an area within the Leuser Ecosystem, and that they also investigate the Aceh police force for its failure to investigate the case adequately, and their suspected collusion with the Governor and PT Kallista Alam.
  3. The immediate formation of a national-level credible investigation into the use of fire for land clearing by oil palm concessions in Tripa, the clearance and conversion of deep peat, the clearance of high conservation value forest,  and the complete lack of any provision for the protection of wildlife species in Tripa that are themselves legally-protected under Indonesian Law.
  4. An immediate investigation by UKP4 into the practices involved in the November 2011, revision of the Indicative Map of Primary Forests and Peatlands, in particular the case of the mysterious withdrawal of the area covered by the new PT Kallista Alam concession issued by the Governor of Aceh on 25th August 2011, from the earlier version of the map despite its being issued after the moratorium was declared.
  5. That the Government IMMEDIATELY order oil palm companies with concessions within the Tripa Peat Swamps of the Leuser Ecosystem to completely cease ALL land clearing and burning activities pending the outcomes of the above enquiries.
  6. That the Government of Norway immediately suspend the bilateral Letter of Intent of May 27th 2010, and any payments of the US$1 billion promised in the LOI, until the Government of Indonesia has thoroughly investigated the alleged contraventions of Indonesian law by National, Provincial and District Government officials, the Aceh Police force, and Oil Palm Concession holders in the Tripa Peat Swamps of the Leuser Ecosystem, and demonstrated its total commitment to the supremacy of the law and its international obligations.
  7. That the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) immediately suspend Aceh from its membership, until the Aceh Government has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the Laws of Aceh and Indonesia, and the goals and agenda of the GCF.
  8. That the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) who in 2006 endorsed the resolution “Palm Oil Cultivation according to RSPO Criteria and Principles on FallowLand in the Context of Relocating Palm-Oil Concessions Threatening HCVF”, and in 2008 the resolution “The primary rainforests of Tripa, peat swamp forests of exceptional high conservationvalue, are presently being destroyed for palm oil plantations”, thereby agreeing to engage with the palm oil companies destroying Tripa to achieve a solution, to immediately contact the head of the Indonesian palm oil association (GAPKI) and urge him to bring sanctions against oil palm concessionaires within the Tripa Peat Swamps of the Leuser Ecosystem that are breaking mandatory ISPO standards.
  9. We also request all supporters of good environmental governance and biodiversity conservation, in Indonesia and around the world, to sign an electronic petition to save the Tripa Peat Swamps at endoftheicons.wordpress.com  and/or contacting their local legislature, or nearest Indonesian legislation to express their disgust at the blatant environmental and social crimes that are being perpetrated by oil palm concessions in the Tripa peat swamps within the Leuser Ecosystem National Strategic Area. (More information is also available at the “Save the Tripa Peat Swamps”: please click “like”).

Football can HELP save the Orangutans

Dear Fellow Football Lovers,
We all hate spam mails, but please take 2 minutes to read our message and realize that this is not Spam.

We are football fans who happen to also be members of a coalition of people concerned about the environment in Aceh, Indonesia. We are trying to save the Tripa peat swamps in Aceh on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, and the rare orangutans (and tigers and bears and many other endangered species) that live there, from extinction. This is important not only to save the Sumatran orangutan (one of our closest cousins), but also to stop the release of huge amounts of carbon from the peat swamps that will contribute to global warming. Our opponents are oil palm companies who regularly break Indonesian and international laws, and get away with it through corruption and intimidation.

More infomation can be found at an online petition that we have set up at the following website:
http://www.change.org/petitions/enforce-the-law-protecting-tripa-peat-swamp-and-its-orangutan-populations

or at the facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/savetripa

Images and videos of recent fires and destruction can be found at:
http://endoftheicons.wordpress.com/category/video/

Many of you may not be aware how massive the premier league is in SE Asia, especially Malaysia and Indonesia. Every weekend millions of Indonesians sit up til all hours to watch live Premier League games. This weekend we will be watching, Aston Villa v Chelsea; Everton v WBA; Man. City v Sunderland; Newcastle U. v Liverpool; Spurs v Swansea City; QPR v Arsenal; and Blackburn R. v Man Utd. Millions of people watch YOU watching these games, your banners, your costumes and your flags. Amongst our coalition we have fanatic fans of Liverpool, Arsenal, Man. Utd, Chelsea, QPR (particularly Malaysians), Spurs, Hull City and Ipswich Town (okay the last 2 of us are Brits!). We love football, and we think that besides providing entertainment for millions around the world, it can also be a force for social change.

We realize time is short, but we are appealing for your support in the following in one or more of the following ways over the next few days:

1. Share this email with your friends and family.

2. Sign the online petition (website above) expressing you support for enforcing Indonesian laws that protect these orangutans and peat swamps.

3. If you are going to one of the games listed above this weekend, make a show of support for our cause by make banners/placards: suggested messages could be “SAVE TRIPA ORANGUTANS IN ACEH” or better still the Indonesian equivalent “SELAMATKAN ORANGUTAN TRIPA DI ACEH”. Another option is “ENFORCE THE LAW TO SAVE TRIPA” or its equivalent “TEGAKKAN HUKUM, SELAMATKAN TRIPA”. A few seconds of images of these signs, especially if those holding them were wearing ORANGUTAN costumes, on live TV in Indonesia could have a huge difference. YOU would be making a massive contribution to saving these orangutans and our envrionment.

4. If you do want to wear an ORANGUTAN costume, we know that Greenpeace in the UK has lots of Orangutan costumes, and you could also contact SOS (a UK-based Sumatran orangutan conservation organization). Alternatively, you local party costume outlet might have one.

Please, please support us, have some fun, and enjoy the games this weekend of the best footall league in the world,

Thanks, the Coalition for the Saving The Tripa Peat Swamps

If you need more information feel free to contact:

  1. Deddy Ratih, (fanatic Liverpool) Walhi / Friends of the Earth Indonesia; Mobile: +62-81250807757, Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com
  2. Yuyun Indradi, (calm Arsenal) Greenpeace/Forest Political Campaigner; Mobile: +62-812 2616 1759, Email: yuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org
  3.  Ian Singleton, Ph.D (Hull City comedian) Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme/Director of Conservation; Mobile: +62811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com
  4. Graham Usher, (ever-optimistic Ipswich Town) Landscape protection specialist: +6287766008476, Email: kimabajo1@gmail.com

Orangutans could perish in weeks

Forest fires and land clearing by palm oil firms could kill the 200 orangutans remaining in a western Indonesian forest.

Forest fires and land clearing by palm oil firms could kill the 200 orangutans remaining in a western Indonesian forest.

Photograph by: Roni Bintang, Reuters Files , Reuters

Forest fires and land clearing by palm oil firms could kill off within weeks about 200 orangutans in a forest in western Indonesia, an environmental group said on Wednesday.

The orangutans, part of a population of around 6,600 on Sumatra island, used to live in a lush forest and peatland region called Rawa Tripa on the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province. But more than two-thirds of the area has been divided up into palm oil concessions, said the Coalition to Save Tripa.

Graham Usher, a member of the coalition and a landscape protection specialist, said satellite images showed forest fires had been burning in Tripa since last week, and if allowed to continue they could wipe out orangutans already forced onto the edge of remaining forests.

“If there is any prolonged dry spell, which is quite likely, there’s a very good chance that the whole piece of forest and everything in it, so that’s orang-utans, sun bears, tigers, and all the other protected species in it, will disappear in a few weeks and will be gone permanently,” he told a news conference.

The palm oil industry has expanded to make Indonesia the world’s top producer and exporter of the edible oil, used to make goods ranging from cooking oil and biodiesel to biscuits and soap to feed growing Asian consumer demand.

Deforestation has threatened animals like the Sumatran tiger and Javan rhino and pushed up carbon dioxide emissions. The Bali tiger and the Java tiger have disappeared in the last 70 years. A two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests came into effect in Indonesia last year, part of a $1-billion deal with Norway to cut emissions and slow expansion of plantations. But the moratorium was breached in Aceh on its first days, an environmental group has said.

The last Aceh permit for palm oil was issued by former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf in August last year to PT Kallista Alam, prompting environmental group WALHI to file a legal suit against Yusuf. A court verdict is expected next week.

“If Kallista Alam win the case they will burn it and that whole bit of forest will disappear and we can say goodbye to the orangutan of Tripa peat swamps,” Usher said.

Kallista Alam could not be reached for comment.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Indonesian fires threaten Sumatran orangutan

By ALI KOTARUMALOS, Associated Press – 2 hours ago  JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) —

Hundreds of critically endangered orangutans in western Indonesia could be wiped out by the year’s end if palm oil companies keep setting land-clearing fires in their peat swamp forests, conservationists warned Thursday.

“They are just barely hanging on,” Ian Singleton, conservation director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said of the Sumatran orangutans who live in the Tripa forest on the coast of Aceh province. “It is no longer several years away, but just a few months or even weeks before this iconic creature disappears.”

The forest — though officially protected — is hemmed in by palm oil plantations, including one that was granted a permit just last year

Land clearing fires, several set inside the perimeters, have sent orangutans fleeing. Some risk being captured or killed by residents, Singleton said. Others will simply die, either directly in the fires or of gradual starvation and malnutrition as their food resources disappear.

“We are currently watching a global tragedy,” he said.

There are only 6,600 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild.

The Tripa forest — which in the early ’90s was home to around 3,000 of them — today has just 200. But with eight individuals every square kilometer, its the densest population in the world.

Cloud-free images from December show only 12,267 hectares (30,311 acres) of Tripa’s original 60,000 hectares (148,260 acres) of forest remains, said Graham Usher of the Foundation of a Sustainable Ecosystem.

The rest has been broken up and degraded as palm oil companies drain the swamp, he said, adding a total of 92 fire hotspots were recorded between March 19 and 25 in several of the surrounding plantations.

A half-century ago, more than three-quarters of Indonesia was blanketed in plush tropical rain forest. But half those trees have been cleared in the rush to supply the world with pulp, paper and, more recently, palm oil — used to make everything from lipstick and soap to “clean-burning” fuel.

Governments are now trying to find ways to convince the sprawling archipelagic nation to keep trees standing.

As part of a $1 billion deal with Norway, Indonesia recently put in place a two-year moratorium on issuing new permits to clear primary forests.

But conservationists say that deal was violated when the government gave a license to PT Kallista Alam last year to convert 4,000 acres of the Tripa peat swamp. Three other companies are already operating in the area.

An environmental group has filed both a criminal complaint and a lawsuit against the government. The Aceh Administrative Court is expected to hand down a verdict on the lawsuit next week.

Media Release: Experts warn Tripa orangutan extinction imminent. Legal action needed NOW!

Aerial image taken on Tuesday, 27 March 2012

28/03/2012 – JAKARTA, INDONESIA

Today a scathing report was delivered by a panel of experts to an international press audience issuing an urgent appeal for Indonesian courts to uphold national laws following an explosion of recent fire hotspots throughout the protected Tripa peat swamps, an area hosting among the highest densities of orangutans anywhere on earth.

Dr Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme warned the international press gallery that the population of Sumatran orangutans in the Tripa peat swamps, a UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership priority site for Great Ape Conservation, is in immediate jeopardy, and unless the current wave of destruction can be halted is likely to be exterminated before the end of the year.

“The population in Tripa is considered to have been around 3,000 individuals in the early 90’s but there are probably less than 200 hanging on there today, of a global population of just 6,600, and many are already fleeing the fires, along with many other wildlife species. At this rate Tripa’s orangutan population will be locally extinct by the end of 2012”, said Dr. Singleton. “It is no longer several years away, but just a few months or even weeks before this iconic creature disappears from the Tripa swamps forever” he continued.

Ironically, any that are captured and kept illegally as pets during this process will be the ‘lucky’ ones, the survivors, but they will be refugees from a forest that no longer exists. The other’s will simply die, either directly in the fires, killed by people, or of gradual starvation and malnutrition as their food resources disappear. We are currently watching a global tragedy.

Landscape protection specialist, Graham Usher, presented his findings on the recent fires in Tripa. “Over 100 fire spots have been recorded in these peat swamps in just the last week and we have confirmed reports from the field that they are still ongoing today. A number of the fire hotspots are within the area of an allegedly illegal palm oil concession permit, of which the Head of Indonesia’s REDD+ task force; Kuntoro Mangunsubroto. told reuters, was clearly in breach of the moratorium’”

The audience was shown satellite imagery of the firestorm that is sweeping across Tripa’s protected forests. Local sources have also spoken to some of the plantation workers contracted to clear the forests where most of the fires are occurring. According to them they were instructed not to do such a thorough job of clearing the vegetation as it was all going to be burned anyway, strongly suggesting a premeditated and very deliberate contravention of laws that forbid the use of fires for land clearance in peatlands.

A spatial planning expert from the University of North Sumatra, Mr Riswan Zen, explained how he had learned from colleagues who revised the map indicating areas of forests and peatlands protected from new permits, in accordance with the president’s own moratorium, that after the first version of the map, numerous companies, including Kallista Alam, had lobbied for the exclusion of their concessions from the ‘off-limits’ areas. They told him that staff of the National Land Agency appeared with a GIS map of the Kallista Alam concession and told the mapping team to remove it from its existing protected status, even though the concession permit was issued 3 months after the moratorium map was first issued. Riswan questioned why there was no documentation or evidence provided for the concession’s sudden exclusion from protection, and recommended that any future revisions should be accompanied by explanations, with clear and transparent documentation of changes.

Despite assurances in December from the Ministry’s Secretary-General of Forestry that the protected status of the area would be reinstated as a protected area, this has not been followed up, and the evidence presented by the experts clearly shows that the Tripa Peat Swamps are now on the verge of disaster.

A lawyer acting on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of the Tripa Peat Swamps, Kamaruddin, explained how local community representatives on November 23, 2011 reported the issuing of the new PT Kallista Alam license as breaking national spatial planning laws, to the National Police in Jakarta. The head of the Police’s investigation unit subsequently issued a letter stating that the case did indeed merit a criminal investigation, but then contacted the Aceh Provincial Police, asking them to follow the case up. Since that letter was sent, the Aceh Police have taken no action whatsoever.  The head of the National Police was invited to the conference to respond to these statements, but no response was provided.

Walhi Aceh Executive Director, TM Zulfiker, earlier outlined an additional legal case currently being heard concerning the same concession, which will climax in the much anticipated final judges verdict in the Banda Aceh courtroom on April 3rd. TM Zulfikar described this legal action as being a very straightforward, ‘black and white’ case. A concession was clearly issued inside the Leuser Ecosystem, designated a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection in the National Spatial Plan, established with Government Regulation 26 in 2008. Furthermore, forest clearance and canal construction actually began in this concession long before the permit was even granted, and it was actually granted whilst clearly shown as off limits to any new plantations under the official map of the President’s moratorium on new permits in primary forests and peatlands noted above, before its mysterious removal from the revised version of the map in November 2012. President SBY was invited to the conference today to clarify his position and explain whether he is still committed to the multi billion-dollar emissions reduction agreement with Norway, and the upholding of Indonesian Law.

Teguh Surya, climate justice specialist with Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), stated that it is imperative that the judges in the above legal case reach a fair and just decision and that the Kallista Alam permit be immediately cancelled. He also expressed that the Norwegian government must have the courage to insist that an independent and transparent team is established to monitor the implementation of the Government’s letter of intent and investigate the suspicious amendments to the moratorium map that removed the Kallista Alam concession from the area ‘off limits’. He also proposed that the existing moratorium on new permits should not be for a limited period only, and should include provisions for much improved governance of the palm oil industry, leading to more transparency, enhanced law enforcement and social accountability.

The general consensus was that the situation of the Tripa Peat Swamps  and their orangutan population is now so critical that only immediate action will save them.  The presenters stressed that there is still hope if only Indonesia would enforce its own laws, and issued a strong list of demands to this end (see following).

 

Contact persons:

Deddy Ratih, Walhi / Friends of the Earth Indonesia; Mobile: +62-81250807757, Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com

Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace/Forest Political Campaigner; Mobile: +62-812 2616 1759, Email: yuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org

Ian Singleton, Ph.D-Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme/Director of Conservation; Mobile: +62811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com

Graham Usher, Landscape protection specialist: +6287766008476, Email: kimabajo1@gmail.com

An Emergency Report prepared for the Coalition to Save Tripa and Partners

Current Status of Tripa Peat Swamp Destruction and Fires

An Emergency Report prepared for the Coalition to Save Tripa and Partners

by

Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari, Medan, Sumatera Utara

27 March 2012

 

Summary of Issues and Findings

The pace of destruction of the Tripa peat swamps in Aceh has escalated dramatically in the last few weeks, possibly as the companies take advantage of Aceh’s status as having an “interim’ Governor.  We are extremely alarmed that if the current pace of destruction is allowed to continue, there will be no HCVF forest and no more Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan, or any other protected wildlife, in Tripa by the end of 2012.

The loss of Tripa’s remaining HCVF forests will also result in dire long term environmental consequences for the region’s human population, with ever increasing incidences of serious flooding and drought due the complete loss of critical hydrological and other ecosystem functions previously provided by the peat swamps.

Satellite imagery from December 26th, 2011, clearly shows less than 13,000 ha of Tripa’s former 60,000 ha of forest remained at that time. Moreover, much of the forest was already highly fragmented, with the largest remaining block measuring less than 8,400 ha, and only one other remaining block covering more than 1,000 ha. Since then, more recent land clearing for oil palm and the widespread use of fire has reduced the forest cover even further.

From 2009 to 2011 over 5,000 ha of peat swamp forest was completely destroyed. This means that circa 100 Sumatran orangutans also perished, either killed directly in the conversion process or currently dying long lingering deaths due to starvation and malnutrition. A few “lucky” survivors of this process are probably also still being kept as illegal pets in the vicinity and several have already been confiscated by the authorities.

Right now the forest is being destroyed even faster. Between the 20th and 24thof March this year, just 5 days, there were no less than 87 fire hotspots, meaning major fires detectable by satellite, in 3 of Tripa’s oil palm concessions; PT SPS2, (formerly PT Astra Agro Lestari), PT Kallista Alam (a company currently on trial for legal infringements), and PT Dua Perkasa Alam. Such a high number of hotspots in so short a time (5 days) represents the highest intensity of fire hotspots recorded in a 5-day period in Tripa since satellite monitoring of Indonesia’s fire hot spots began in late 2000,  higher even than the infamous fires in the PT Kallista Alam concession in 2009. The overall area of land devastated so far by these latest fires alone is at least 2,800 ha.

What is more, by far the majority of these hotspots occurred on the deepest peat within Tripa, where numerous peat depth measurements have recorded well over 5 metres.

The number of Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Malayan sun bears and other endangered and protected wildlife, many of which are peat swamp specialist species found in no other habitat type, that have perished in these fires is immeasurable. Nevertheless, based on knowledge of orangutan densities in Tripa and other peat swamp areas on the west coast of Aceh, it is estimated that the number killed in recent months must be at least approaching 100, if not even more.

With the continued encroachment and draining of the remaining forests, we are now in a situation where a prolonged dry period and further indiscriminate burning could easily spread quickly through the whole of Tripa’s remaining forest in just a matter of weeks, or even days, completely eliminating the remaining wildlife, including the last couple of hundred orangutans.

The use of fire for land clearing of peatlands is quite clearly illegal in Indonesia, and the concession owners, the companies themselves, are legally accountable for all such occurrences within their concession areas. However, to date, not one single prosecution as ever been brought against any of the oil palm concessions in Tripa, despite the fact that 707 fire hot spots have been recorded by satellite in these concessions since 2001.

Unless action is IMMEDIATELY taken to uphold the numerous national laws that: protect the Leuser Ecosystem; protect deep peatlands from destruction; forbid the use of fire for land clearing; and  protect Indonesia’s endangered species, Indonesia’s international promises to reduce its carbon emissions from primary forest and peat land degradation and destruction (REDD) will be confirmed as utterly worthless, bringing international trust in forest and peatland governance within Indonesia to an all-time ‘embarrassing’ low.

 RECENT DATA ANALYSES

Recent Deforestation in Tripa Peat Swamps

The most recent publicly accessible cloud-free image of the Tripa peat swamps is a Landsat 7 image from December 26th 2011 (less than 3 months ago; figure 1). This shows that only 12,267 ha of Tripa’s original 60,000 ha of forest cover remains, and that much of what does remain is already fragmented and degraded, by the continual draining of the swamps in surrounding areas.

Comparing the above image with satellite imagery from 2009, nearly 5,100 ha of peat land forest have been lost in just 2 years, virtually all of it destroyed by oil palm companies. Today, the largest single block of contiguous forest is only 8,359 ha, with only one other fragment over 1,000 ha.

Any Sumatran orangutans trapped in the few remaining small fragments of forest are now effectively refugees, of forest that no longer exists, but are nevertheless also doomed to die a lingering death from to starvation, if they are not killed or captured beforehand. It is now almost certain that less than 200 of Tripa’s former several thousand orangutans are surviving in Tripa, and given the current pace of destruction even their plight is now in immediate jeopardy. It is now extremely likely, unless something can be implemented IMMEDIATELY to halt this tragedy, the surviving orangutan population in the Tripa peat swamps, one of a number of UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnerships’ global priority sites for Great Ape Conservation, will finally be exterminated before the end of 2012. It will have taken just 22 years to exterminate since the first oil palm concession in Tripa was granted to PT Cemerlang Abadi in 1990.

Figure 1: Remaining areas of the forest, forest lost between 2009 and Dec. 2011, the Leuser Ecosytem, and oilpalm concessions plotted on Landsat 7 image (26/12/2011)

Latest Fire Data

On March 20th this year the local communities in Tripa and air travellers over the region began frantically reporting many extremely large and ‘out of control’ fires in Tripa. The following provides a summary of the data from ground level, from the air, and from satellite fire hotspot data. Figure 2 shows the location of fire hotspots between the 19thand 25thof March 2011, detected by the MODIS Aqua and Terra satellites. A total of 92 fire hotspots were recorded in several of the oil palm concessions between March 19th and 25th, as shown in the following two tables:

Concession

No of fires

Date

No of fires

PT Cemerlang Abadi

2

19/3

2

PT Dua Perkasa Lestari

9

20/3

4

PT Kallista Alam (new)

8

21/3

16

PT Surya Panen Subur 2

72

22/3

24

none

1

23/3

12

Grand Total

92

24/3

31

25/3

3

Grand Total

92

Clearly, most fires were recorded on the 24th of March, but based on field reports these fires were all on-going  on the 25th March as well, but were probably undetected by the satellites due to heavy cloud cover. By far the bulk of the fire hotspots were in the PT Surya Panen Subur 2 concession (formerly belonging to PT Astra Agro Lestari).  PT Surya Panen Subur 2 not only has the largest number and greatest spread of fires, but the area of the fires is also one of the deepest peat areas in the whole of the Tripa peat swamps, estimated to have an average depth of over 4 m (see peat depth sampling points on map).

Ironically, all the fire hotspots shown are within the Leuser Ecosystem, since 2008 a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection[1].

Interim burn scars were measured for the 2 main concentrations of hotspots. The larger burn scar (2,454 ha) lies primarily in the PT Surya Panen Subur 2 concession, while the smaller burn scar (408 ha) is primarily within the PT Dua Perkasa Lestari concession. Six outlying hotspots were excluded from the generation of the burn scars. The total final burn scar from these fires can only really be determined when all the fires have been extinguished, and remote sensing data can be cross-checked in the field.

Figure 2: Fire hotspots recorded between 19/3 and 25/3/2012 and projected burn scars, plotted on the remaining peat land forest and oil palm concessions in Tripa. Also shown are peat  depth sampling points.

Historical Fire Hotspot Data

All recorded fire hotspots in the Tripa region since 2001 are shown in Figure 3. It is clear that the bulk of the hotspots are clumped into a few particular areas, although the recent fires represent the widest spread of simultaneous fires yet seen.

Figure 3: All fires spots recorded in the Tripa region between 2001 and March 26th, 2012.

Fire hotspot data collected since the satellites became operational in late 2000 (see table below), clearly show that 2009 was by far the worst year for fires in the Tripa peatlands. However, particularly alarming is that after just 3 months, 2012 is already ranked number two in the annual tally, with 111 fires recorded already.

Fire Hotspots in Oil Palm Concessions, 2001 to March 26, 2012

Year

none

ex PT PGSA

 Cemerlang Abadi

Dua Perkasa Lestari

Gelora Sawita Makmur

Kallista Alam

Kallista Alam (new)

Surya Panen Subur 2

Grand Total

% total

2001

1

7

9

2

2

21

3.0%

2002

3

10

2

15

2.1%

2003

1

1

0.1%

2004

3

1

2

6

0.8%

2005

1

2

2

5

0.7%

2006

3

8

11

2

24

3.4%

2007

2

3

4

1

10

1.4%

2008

6

9

15

2

13

19

11

75

10.6%

2009

25

95

51

9

9

117

16

322

45.5%

2010

8

2

1

20

4

1

36

5.1%

2011

5

17

6

22

5

13

2

11

81

11.5%

2012

2

4

10

1

8

86

111

15.7%

Grand Total

52

130

81

44

56

196

16

132

707

100.0%

% total

7.4%

18.4%

11.5%

6.2%

7.9%

27.7%

2.3%

18.7%

100.0%

Historically, PT Kallista Alam has the worst record of all the oil palm concessionaires, with nearly 28% of all Tripa’s fire hotspots recorded within their concession, and a peak of 117 fires in 2009. Until this year there were relatively few fires recorded in the PT Surya Panen Subur 2 concession, suggesting a deliberate policy by the company for rapid expansion of conversion at the expense of the remaining peatland forests. The third highest number of fires are in the ex PT Patriot Guna Sakti Abadi (PT PGSA) in Aceh Barat Daya. This concession was never actually formalized, and after the Aceh peace agreement was parcelled out by the local government, purportedly to ex-combatants. It is understood that many of the small parcels have since been bought and consolidated into larger blocks by local government officials and business people.

Carbon Emissions

Based on the burn scars and existing data on the carbon content of the peat and forests in Tripa it is possible to  estimates the carbon emissions from these last 5 days of fires, and their potential monetary value. In order to ensure estimates were conservative (i.e. minimum estimates) calculations were based on the following assumptions:-

  • The above ground carbon content of the felled forest areas used for calculations was just 50 t C/ha, less than half the lowest recorded value for the Tripa peat swamp forests (109 t C/ha).
  • A burned peat depth of only 5cm (representing just 20 t C/ha), whilst the depth of peat actually burned in fires is probably much greater.

Given the highly conservative values used, and the size of the burn scars, the total amount of carbon lost in just the last several days is considered to be well in excess of 200,000 tonnes, which if valued at US$10 per tonne, represents a loss of over US$ 2 million. Of this loss, over US$1.7 occurred primarily in the PT Surya Panen Subur 2 concession, and nearly US$300,000 primarily in the PT Dua Perkasa Lestari concession.

We propose that these figures ought to represent the minimum fines that should be levied on these companies for this illegal burning of peat land.

Total Carbon Emissions (t)

Value of Carbon Emissions (US$)

PT SPS 2 PT DPL Total PT SPS 2 PT DPL Total
Carbon t/ha (2454 ha) (408 ha) (2862 ha) (2454 ha) (408 ha) (2862 ha)
Above ground 50 122,700 20,400 143,100 1,227,000 204,000 1,431,000
Below ground (5cm) 20 49,080 8,160 57,240 490,800 81,600 572,400
Total 70 171,780 28,560 200,340 1,717,800 285,600 2,003,400

[1] As listed in Appendix X of Government Regulation No.26/2008 on the National Spatial Plan (PP 26/2008 tentang Tata Ruang Nasional, Lampiran X)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,236 other followers