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Update: Aceh Spatial Plan

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Dear friends,

The Indonesian President SBY walked out of office some days ago and unfortunately, he did it without cancelling the Aceh Spatial Plan. That means he didn’t keep his promise to his granddaughter Almira to leave a green legacy and take action to save significant forests like the Leuser Ecosystem.

The Leuser Ecosystem is still facing its most serious threat to date: The Aceh Spatial Plan ignores its very existence which means it can be sold out to loggers, miners and poachers. This is outrageous considering the Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers still co-exist in the wild.

We were blown away by the amazing effort you all put in to our International Day of Action #SaveLeuserEcosystem and this gave us the momentum to keep pushing with more political work behind the scenes.

Together with 140 other local, national and international organizations we wrote a letter to the central government urging them to cancel the spatial plan and save the Leuser Ecosystem. Last week a coalition of over 30 individuals representing this huge group travelled to Jakarta to deliver the letter to senior Indonesian officials and explain why protecting the Leuser Ecosystem is so important.

We received a commitment that our message will be communicated to the incoming President. Our hope is that the new President Joko Widodo “Jokowi” who just started his term among much optimism will be more willing to take the bold action Indonesia and the rest of the world needs, and protect Indonesia’s remaining forests like the Leuser Ecosystem. We will continue to keep the pressure on him so that he stops the Aceh Spatial Plan once and for all.

At this point we would like to thank you again for your incredible support over the last couple of weeks and hope you are in it for the long haul with us and the iconic creatures of the Leuser Ecosystem! Please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for updates…

Warm regards,

Endoftheicons

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Environmentalists file legal action on Aceh’s Spatial Plan

34_img_0305Photo: Paul Hilton

Banda Aceh – Various Indonesian NGOs organized in the Environmental Forum Walhi Aceh have filed judicial review on Aceh’s Spatial Plan to the Supreme Court.

“Our previous actions have not led the Government of Aceh to accommodate inputs. Therefore we decided to file a judicial review,” said Muhammad Nur, Executive Director of Walhi Aceh.

“It has been reported that still many different forms of violations exist within this particular law. These violations potentially provide access to a systematic destruction of the environment,” said Nur.

According to the environmentalists the Spatial Plan should be cancelled because it does not include the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem as required under higher law.

According to Muhammad Nur, there are a number of legal backgrounds that enable Walhi Aceh to file judicial review on the Spatial Plan.

“This judicial review is not the last measure that will be taken by us, while the Government of Aceh refuses to listen and to accommodate inputs and community participation,” added Nur.

EDACEH
Muhammad Nur, Walhi Aceh

Read the full article in Indonesian: http://atjehlink.com/walhi-uji-materil-qanun-tata-ruang-aceh-ke-ma/

International Day of Action: #SaveLeuserEcosystem

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

With only a stroke of his pen Indonesia’s President SB Yudhoyono could stop the deforestation before he goes out of office.

Join our International Day of Action on the 22nd September to remind him of his promise to save the forest. It only takes four easy steps to take part:

  1. Print out one of our posters or create your own.
  2. Take a selfie holding the poster in front of a tree or get a bunch of friends together for it. The more people (and trees) the merrier!
  3. Tweet your photo on Twitter with the following text:
    Keep your promise @SBYudhoyono and #SaveLeuserEcosystem. @endoftheicons #Climate2014
  4. Share widely with all your friends and networks.

The deadline for sending your photos for inclusion in the International Day of Action is at 9am Monday 22nd September Jakarta (+7GMT) time.


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And for bonus points: Tweet and tweet again EVERY DAY.

Here’s some ideas, or make your own:

  • Actions speak louder than words @SBYudhoyono. Protect the forests, protect our climate and #SaveLeuserEcosystem. @endoftheicons #Climate2014
  • I also do not want to tell my grandchildren we could not save the forests @SBYudhoyono. #SaveLeuserEcosystem @endoftheicons #Climate2014
  • Walk the talk @SBYudhoyono and #SaveLeuserEcosystem. @endoftheicons #Climate2014
  • The clock is ticking down. Leave a green legacy for your granddaughter @SBYudhoyono and #SaveLeuserEcosystem. @endoftheicons #Climate2014
  • @SBYudhoyono, stand for REFORESTATION not deforestation of Indonesia. #SaveLeuserEcosystem @endoftheicons #Climate2014

Happy action, and thank you!



If you don’t know how to tweet watch this video for instructions.
Or share the picture on Facebook: facebook.com/endoftheicons
Or send us your picture by mail to endoftheicons@gmail.com

Indonesian activist wins Goldman Prize for fighting palm oil, deforestation

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
April 28, 2014

Rudi Putra, photo courtesy of Goldman Prize

Rudi Putra, photo courtesy of Goldman Prize

An Indonesian has won the world’s most prestigious award for environmental activism for his efforts to fight illegal logging, forest encroachment for palm oil production, and a policy that would open up vast swathes of an endangered ecosystem for mining and industrial plantations. 

Rudi Putra, a biologist who works in Sumatra’s Aceh Province, was on Monday honored with the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. Putra was selected as the “Islands and Island Nations” winner. 

Putra was recognized for his campaign to dismantle illegal oil palm plantations within Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem, a habitat for critically endangered orangutans, tigers, rhinos, and elephants, as well as his activism around a plan to remove protected status for vast areas of forest across Aceh. That activism culminated in 2013 with a petition asking the Indonesian government to enforce conservation laws and reject Aceh’s proposal. The petition was signed more than 1.4 million times, catalyzing broader awareness of the issue and sparking intense international outcry. 

The Goldman Environmental Foundation highlighted Putra’s effort to restore wildlife corridors in areas that were once illegal oil palm plantations.

      With support from local communities, Putra approached local police directly to enforce land protection laws and shut down illegal palm oil plantations. He spoke of the hundreds of thousands of families who lost their homes and loved ones during the 2006 Aceh floods and their struggles to access clean drinking water.
      He also approached palm oil plantation owners and reminded them that their actions were against the law. After Putra showed them the boundaries marking conservation areas, some owners voluntarily shut down the plantations and gave the land back to the government so that Putra and his colleagues could conduct restoration work.
    Putra’s sustained outreach and strategic negotiations, deploying carrots and sticks when necessary, resulted in the dismantling of more than 1,200 acres of illegal plantations in the Leuser Ecosystem. The rehabilitation of these forests after the clearance of the oil palm has recreated a critical wildlife corridor now used by elephants, tigers and orangutans for the first time in 12 years. The Sumatran rhino population in the Leuser Ecosystem has also inched up in the past decade.

Ian Singleton, an orangutan conservationist who has worked with Putra for years, agreed that the activist has had an outsized impact. 

“He has always struck me as one of the most focused and dedicated Indonesian conservationists I have ever met,” Singleton told Mongabay.com. “He is certainly not one to make a song and dance of things, and instead keeps a low profile, plugging away at an issue until eventually his hard work pays off.” 

“Rudi is a leading member of a large team of various players working hard to halt a devastating new spatial plan in the province of Aceh, Sumatra, which would destroy huge tracts of the Leuser Ecosystem and spell the death knell for its remaining elephants and rhinos, and possibly orangutans and tigers as well. This battle is far from won, but without people like Rudi taking part it would be a far harder battle to win.” 

Rudi Putra watching an oil palm tree being cut down in Aceh. Photo courtesy of the Goldman Prize.

Rudi Putra watching an oil palm tree being cut down in Aceh. Photo courtesy of the Goldman Prize.

Due to criticism, Aceh’s spatial plan revision as originally proposed is now in limbo. The central government in Jakarta and the Aceh government have yet to come to an agreement that would allow the plan to proceed, buying environmentalists more time to make a case for protecting the province’s endangered forests. Putra is hopeful the Goldman Prize will now boost help that effort. 

“The government has failed to do enough to stop forest conversion for oil palm — large areas of forest are not covered by the moratorium,” he told Mongabay.com. “It has also failed to stop encroachment, illegal logging, and mining inside conservation areas.” 

“This fight is far from over but the Goldman Prize will help.” 

 

Palm Oil: The Other Kind of Oil Spill

News Watch, National Geographic 

A worker carries a palm oil sapling onto a cleared area to be planted in the coming days, after purpose lit fires go out in Tripa's peat forest, 13 June 2012, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia. According to a field team from the coalition of NGO's to protect Tripa, that visited the area. Fires are continuing to be lit in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest despite assurances from the Indonesian central government that ‘triple track’ legal action was underway and a small area of the Peat Forest had returned to the moratorium map central to the multibillion agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emission from burning the carbon dense Peat Forests. Photo: Paul Hilton/SOCP/YEL (HANDOUT PHOTO, EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

A worker carries a palm oil sapling onto a cleared area to be planted in the coming days, after purpose lit fires go out in Tripa’s peat forest, 13 June 2012, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia. According to a field team from the coalition of NGO’s to protect Tripa, that visited the area. Fires are continuing to be lit in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest despite assurances from the Indonesian central government that ‘triple track’ legal action was underway and a small area of the Peat Forest had returned to the moratorium map central to the multibillion agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emission from burning the carbon dense Peat Forests. Photo: Paul Hilton/SOCP/YEL (HANDOUT PHOTO, EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

By Elissa Sursara

Max laid hidden beneath the charred remains of a palm oil tree. He was frightened, injured, and falling in and out of consciousness.

I clicked my tongue and inched closer, hoping to soothe him. He eyed me curiously, hugging tightly to the branches. All around, the Tanjung Puting National Park burned, accidentally set alight by plantation workers who had cleared the surrounding land to harvest the palm oil plant. Separated from his family, Max had fallen casualty to the plantation fire, sustaining burns to his face and body.

In a swift move, I threw Max onto my back and raced toward the rescue team a few hundred meters away. As the smoke filled my lungs and hit my face, I felt Max’ grip become loose and his body become limp. Eventually his breathing stopped, and he died.

Like thousands of orangutans before him, Max was the victim of a different kind of oil spill: the trade in palm oil.

Palm oil monoculture is palming off orangutans in record numbers. Today, less than 70,000 orangutans exist in small wild pockets in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Populations are patchy and both species of orangutan are considered endangered, with conversion of land for palm oil plantation believed to be the species’ biggest threat.

Today, the controversial palm oil process is again at the forefront of environmental news, with Greenpeace staging international protests against a multinational consumer goods company for allegedly using palm oil tied to a supplier with links to tropical forest destruction.

Found in some 75 percent of everyday products, palm oil (sometimes known as vegetable oil) is the edible oil derived from the fleshy middle layer of the fruit of the oil palm. It acts as a cooking agent and is a popular household ingredient. As of 2010, it was the most widely used edible oil in the world, holding approximately 32 percent of the world’s oil market. Palm oil is found in McDonalds, Cadbury chocolates, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, KFC and KFC packaging, Dove and Avon personal care products, Herbal Essence shampoo, Clinique cosmetics, Tim Tams, Kit-Kats and Malteasers, Ritz crackers, Colgate and Palmolive toothpaste, Mars Incorporated chocolates and in Mary Kay, Covergirl, Lancome, Sephora, and Urban Decay cosmetics.

Scientists predict the average consumer uses at least one palm oil product per day.

Approximately 66 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations and 87 percent of Malaysia’s plantations involve some form of documented forest conversion, displacing orangutans and disorienting their ability to find food and seek shelter. Since plantations are often close to villages, lost orangutans sometimes encroach on human settlement. The results are often deadly.

In 2010, animal rights group International Animal Rescue recorded “unspeakable cruelty” toward orangutans in Peniraman, remote Borneo, after a female orangutan and her baby wandered nearby a plantation in search of food. Angry workers allegedly hurled stones and waved sticks at the mother before binding the pair with rope and forcing their heads under the water. The mother later died.

To resolve the palm oil problem, environmental organizations have proposed sustainable palm oil process like a “no deforestation” policy suggested by Greenpeace. The initiatives seek to effectively reduce the pressure on endangered orangutans and their habitats, inherently safeguarding their populations.

WWF has pointed out: “other big palm oil consumers such as Unilever, Ferrero, L’Oreal, Delhaize, Kellog and the world’s biggest palm oil trader, Wilmar International, have all committed to no deforestation.”

Consumer support is also important in the protection of orangutans from harmful palm oil operations, WWF said, which can be facilitated by “palming off” unsustainable palm oil product.

Aceh Lawmakers Reject Clarification of Interior Ministry

BANDA ACEH – Aceh Provincial Lawmakers and Government agreed to reject the evaluation result of the Interior Ministry on the Aceh’s Law (Qanun) on Spatial Plan 2014-2034.

Deputy Chairman of the Aceh Parliament, Muhammad Tanwir Mahdi, explained that the rejection was not related to the content of the law, but because delay of the evaluation by the Ministry.

He stated that the law has been submitted to the Interior Minister on December 30, 2013. But the evaluation result was only received on February 20, 2014, although it was scheduled for January 15, 2014.

“It was over the evaluation period and now is in the clarification period,” said Tanwir to Serambi on Sunday (8/3).

Since the result arrived late, the team member consisting of Aceh Lawmakers and Government considered the Central Government for indiscipline. “The Central Government must be on time and discipline. If the evaluation period is 15 days, then once the law is received, they need to evaluate immediately”, he added.

Within the evaluation letter of the Law on Spatial Plan of Aceh, 8 general points in general and 27 detail points of evaluation was included. “We have received all those evaluation result from the Interior Minister, we will not change the content of the law and we just returned it back to the Minister for clarification,” said Tanwir.

If the reply on clarification elapses the 15 days period, the Aceh Provincial Law on Spatial Plan 2014-2034 passed at the end of 2013 will be included in the Provincial Gazette.  “Once it is in the Provincial Gazettem the law is valid to be applied,” concluded Tanwir.

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