By Chik Rini (Contributor Aceh), July 28, 2012 8:22 am
Road development connecting districts in Aceh within the last 10 years has (at least) disconnect six wildlife corridors in Leuser Ecosystem and Ulu Masen Ecosystem. These are two vitally important ecosystem in Sumatra, amounting to 3.3 million hectares. It is also the only place in the world where four endangered Sumatran mammals share habitat: Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abeii). This area is also home to about 4,500 flora and fauna species of Indo Malaya, some considered very rare and perhaps many more unidentified.
A number of non-governmental organizations and environmentalists including Walhi Aceh, Transparency International Indonesia (Aceh Program), WWF Indonesia (Aceh Program), Leuser International Foundation, Uno Itam, PeNA, Aceh NGO Forum and Aceh Human Rights NGO Coalition, Friday (27/7) lodged a protest over Aceh government plan to continue inter-district road construction until 2017.
Executive Director of the Leuser International Foundation (LIF), Agus Halim, said the construction of roads linking areas in the South West Coast – Central Highland – North and East Coast of Aceh are causing fragmentation of Leuser and Ulu Masen ecosystem. Disconnecting wildlife corridor in many locations and narrowing wildlife distribution areas.
“We documented wildlife corridor disconnected in many locations throughout the entire Aceh forest, areas that has been pockets of habitat for endangered species such as elephants, tigers, rhinos and orangutans” he said, in Aceh, on Friday.
LIF noted, the route that disconnected these wildlife corridor include Babahrot – Trangon, cutting through Southwest Aceh district and Gayo Lues district. Blangkejeren – Pinding – Lokop route, cutting through wildlife corridor in Leuser Ecosystem in Gayo Lues district. Muara Situlen – Gelombang route cutting through South East Aceh and Subulussalam fragmenting wildlife corridor between Gunung Leuser National Park and Singkil Swamp Wildlife sanctuary.
Then Pondok Baru – Samarkilang route in Bener Meriah district separating corridor in central and north Leuser, and Jeuram – Beutong Ateuh that cut through Central Aceh and Nagan Raya disconnecting wildlife corridor between Leuser and Ulu Masen. Followed by road between Lamno – Jantho – Keumala – Pameu, cutting through Greater Aceh, Aceh Jaya, Pidie and Pidie Jaya disconnecting northern wildlife corridor of Leuser and Ulu Masen.
“We believe many other corridors that connect these pockets of important wildlife habitat in Leuser and Ulu Masen are also destroyed to small scale unplanned and unlicensed road that is operating now.” He added
According to Agus, one of the evident of disrupted wildlife corridors is increased frequency of human-wildlife conflict in Aceh, especially conflict with elephants and tigers. Animal with extensive migratory range is cornered by their fragmented habitat. “Plus, large-scale land conversion of forest to cropland, large-scale plantation, mining and human settlement has worsen the problems.”
LIF has noted, elephant distribution route is cut-off in at least 13 locations. Several pockets of elephant habitat are no longer ideal due to severe fragmentation making the area too small to support elephant population. Agus draw example of Pinding – Lesten route, Pinding – Lokop route, Jeuram – Beutong Ateuh route and area of Manggamat and Gelombang.
The roads build across these high-conservation-value-forest also have severe side-effects, including opening access for illegal timber harvest and wildlife poaching.
Greenomics studies stated, construction of roads in the forest would result in deforestation rates ranged from 400 to 2400 hectares per kilo meters of roads. Leuser ecosystem is estimated to be fragmented into 12 smaller piece.
Aceh has the best forests in Sumatra. Even in Southeast Asia, this is the only forest area consisting of two blocks of intact forest ecosystem; Leuser and Ulu Masen ecosystem. Unfortunately, wildlife corridors of this unique forest ecosystem is facing the threat from road construction plans.
Executive Director of TM Walhi Aceh. Zulfikar request the government to review the plans to continue the construction of those roads. “Better to focus on improving the community through other sectors of the economy that is more environmentally sound,” said Zulfikar.
They warned the new Aceh government that the construction of these roads has the potential to violates various laws and regulations, including Law no.11/2006 concerning Law on Governing Aceh, Law 41/1999 on Forestry, Law 26/2007 on Spatial Planning juncto Government Regulation 26/2008, Law 32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Law 5/1990 on Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem.
The protest for this road construction plan is due to its wide ecological impact. “This will open doors to forest destruction in Aceh, destroy wildlife corridors and increase human-wildlife conflict, destroy water catchment and disrupt hydrological cycle. These disaster will have huge economic consequences for Aceh people and its government.”
This road project is part of the continuing development Ladia Galaska road, which slice Leuser forest in Babahrot – Blangkejeren – Pinding – Pasir Putih route, Terangon – Tongra route, Pinding – Lokop – Peunaron route, Muara Situlen – Gelombang route, Simpang Tritit – New cottage – Samarkilang route. Trumon – Bulohseuma – Kuala Baru route, Kuala Tuha – Lamie route, Krueng Geukeuh – Bener Meriah border route, Simpang kebanyakan – North Aceh district boundary and the Ulu Masen Jantho – Lamno – Keumala – Pameu.
A campaign run by environmental activists has helped lead to a 64 percent reduction in palm oil use by eight major food companies in Norway, reports Rainforest Foundation Norway, which led the effort.
Rainforest Foundation Norway and Green Living launched the palm oil campaign last fall highlight links between palm oil consumption and deforestation in Southeast Asia. It aimed to reduce demand for palm oil in the Scandinavian country, where palm oil consumption was roughly 3 kilogram per year, mostly through processed food products.
The campaign asked major food companies to disclose their palm oil use and whether palm oil was certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an eco-certification initiative. Following the survey, the environmental groups published a ‘palm oil guide’ where consumers could look up the palm oil content in the products they buy. The effort went beyond traditional labeling which allowed palm oil to be listed generically as ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘vegetable fat’.
According to Rainforest Foundation Norway, the campaign had an immediate impact — Norwegian food producers started to scale back on, or even phase out, palm oil. Stabburet, which was once one of the country’s largest palm oil buyers, banished palm oil from its products completely, while Mills, the largest buyer, cut use by 95 percent. The result so far is food companies in Norway have reduced palm oil buying by 9,600 metric tons, or 64 percent of last year’s 15,000 tons worth of palm oil. Per capita palm oil consumption in Norway is set to fall to just over 1 kilo per year.
The campaign only targeted food manufacturers, not fast food chains and restaurants, cosmetics producers, or animal feed makers.
Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway, said the campaign could be a model for other countries.
“Norwegian food producers have demonstrated that it is possible to produce and sell food without palm oil, avoiding complicity in rainforest destruction,” said Løvold. “The experience from Norway should inspire consumers globally to demand food products which do not contribute to rainforest destruction.”
Palm oil is the most productive of commercial oil seeds but its expansion in recent decades has taken a heavy toll on rainforests and peatlands in Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for nearly 90 percent of global production. Green campaigners have thus targeted major palm oil buyers in an effort to shift the industry toward less damaging practices. In response, the palm oil industry, working with some environmental groups, have set up the RSPO which sets social and environmental criteria for palm oil production. The hope is that buyers are willing to pay a slight premium for RSPO-certified palm oil. Still some activists have criticized the RSPO as not being strong enough and are campaigning for stricter safeguards.
The palm oil industry asserts its crop offers more oil per unit of area than other oilseeds, reducing the need to clear forests relative to other crops. But that argument has failed to win over environmentalists who note that forest clearing for oil palm plantations has not slowed and is now expanding to other parts of the world, including West Africa, Central and South America, Papua New Guinea, and the South Pacific.
Norway is one of the world’s largest supporters of tropical forest conservation. It has committed three billion Norwegian krone ($500 million) per year to slowing deforestation, including billion dollar pledges to Indonesia and Brazil for forest protection programs. The country’s pension fund nevertheless continues to invest in companies associated with forest conversion, a sore point for activists
- Cargill Admits Buying Palm Oil from Illegally Cleared Orangutan Habitat (understory.ran.org)
- Groups say palm oil production threatens rainforests, wildlife (wtvr.com)
- Profitable palm oil leaves environment poor (edition.cnn.com)
- Cargill needs to come clean … Ashley Schaeffer, Rainforest Action Network (point4counterpoint.wordpress.com)
The Jakarta Globe | Fidelis E. Satriastanti | July 23, 2012
The Environment Ministry is investigating eight plantation companies in Sumatra for allegedly clearing nearly 4,000 hectares of forest using slash-and-burn methods.
Arief Yuwono, the minister’s deputy for environmental damage control and climate change, said on Sunday that the companies were believed to have burned down more than 3,800 hectares of forest.
“Two of the companies are in Riau, four are in South Sumatra and two are in Aceh,” he said.
He added that the ministry was also investigating some local officials involved in issuing permits to the companies.
The investigation comes as the Environment Ministry prioritizes measures to prevent haze as a result of forest fires on the island and particularly in Riau, which is set to host the 18th National Games in September.
Purwasto Saroprayogi, head of the ministry’s forest fire monitoring department, said the areas of top priority were Pelalawan and Rokan Hilir districts in Riau.
“We’re giving priority to these two regions because the number of forest fire hot spots detected there is quite high,” Purwasto said.
He added that there was a risk of more fires spreading in the province because of the hot spots.
He said that under the ministry’s Fire Danger Rating System, officials now had a better understanding of how the fires were spreading.
“Whereas before we could only monitor once every seven days, now we can do it once every three days,” Purwasto said.
As of July 15, there were 2,643 hot spots detected in Riau this year, or more than half of the 4,876 detected across Indonesia by a US satellite. South Sumatra accounted for 1,180 hot spots, while West Kalimantan had 1,053.
In Riau, most of the hot spots were concentrated in Pelalawan district, with 527, followed by Bengkalis and Rokan Hilir.
Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya warned that the number of fires would increase as the dry season continued, fanned in part by the “El Nino” phenomenon in October.
“Based on the information from the FDRS and predictions of decreased rainfall, there will be a high potential of forest fires in the eight most prone provinces of North and South Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, and [all of] Kalimantan,” he said as quoted by environmental website MongaBay.co.id.
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REDD TASK FORCE URGES ACEH GOVERNMENT TO TAKE FURTHER ACTION ON RAWA TRIPA CASE
Jakarta, 18 July – The Head of the Presidential Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and Chairman of the REDD+ Task Force, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, continues to follow up and monitor authorities in Aceh with concrete measures on developments related to his letter dated 3 July 2012 to the Governor of Aceh requesting the revocation of the licenses and permits of two companies whose activities are found to be in violation of several legal provisions.
UKP4 has been leading the strong government initiative since April 2012 in investigating the case of illegal land clearing through systematic and deliberate forest fires by two companies in the area of Rawa Tripa, close to the globally renowned Leuser Ecosystem Area and home to protected peat lands and endangered bio-diversity. Several NGOs as well as members of the public had also raised this issue and petitioned the government to take appropriate action.
Investigations carried out under the directions of UKP4 and REDD+ Task Force in April 2012 clearly established that violations had taken place under Law number 18/2004 concerning Plantation; Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management; and Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial Planning as well as Presidential Decree number 32/1990 concerning Protected Area Management.
Letters were sent to the Ministry of Environment and the Head of the Indonesian National Police demanding thorough investigations. These investigations further revealed several irregularities in the issuance of permits as well as blatant violation of several laws governing the conversion of land use. On 3 July, a team from UKP4/REDD+ Task Force comprising the Heads of the Working Groups on Legal Review and Moratorium Monitoring travelled to Aceh to hold meetings with provincial officials. They also conducted aerial surveys of the forest fires which confirmed that the two companies continued to act not only in gross violation of the applicable laws but also in complete disregard for conservation of endangered bio-diversity and concerned public opinion.
A letter dated 3 July from the Head of the Presidential Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and Chairman of the REDD+ Task Force, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto to the Governor of Aceh Province in Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, Dr. Zaini Abdullah, requesting the revocation of Plantation and Cultivation Permit (IUP-B) issued to Surya Panen Subur (PT SPS 2) and Permit Letter Number 525/BP2T/5322/2011 dated 25 August 2011 issued in the name of Kalista Alam (PT KA) was handed over to the Regional Secretary (SEKDA) during this visit.
In a bid to sensitize the provincial authorities to the various provisions in the Moratorium Decree that is part of the UKP4 and REDD+ Task Force mandate, the following six aspects were also outlined in a list presented to the provincial authorities:
1. The Moratorium is intended for all activities concerning land-based permits in Rawa Tripa to prevent degradation and to find comprehensive solution for economic, conservation and social needs.
2. Conducting scientific research or comprehensive inventory to identify the whole bio-psychical characteristics in Rawa Tripa including hydrological integrity, chemical concentration, as well as its mineral soil. This research is required, among others, to define area delineation which is targeted as the protected area (core peat area) as well as for the use of buffer zone.
3. Based on the complete understanding, it is necessary to accelerate the finalization of Spatial Planning for Leuser Ecosystem area, in particular Rawa Tripa. This Spatial Planning will be adopted by and/or adjusted to the ongoing development of Spatial Planning of Aceh Province.
4. Collaboratively preparing a plan for comprehensive protection and management in Rawa Tripa Area so as to achieve a win-win solution in the context of conservation, economy, and social needs. For example, the existing plantation activity in the area must be halted and moved to another suitable land (land swap), or the activity is allowed to run provided that their business concept is changed into ecosystem restoration, for instance, by replacing palm oil with ramin and jelutung (Dyera Costulata) which are more suitable with the swampy peat ecosystem.
5. Strengthening the ongoing legal measures (criminal, administrative, and civil) so as to get swift conclusions. Providing backup to comprehensive legal reviews particularly of the issued permits for Leuser Ecosystem Area – specifically the Rawa Tripa area.
6. Regain public trust in the government, such as by conducting corrective measures for the practices committed by the security apparatus in the field, for example by taking stern measure against unscrupulous apparatus/Indonesian Military for intimidating the community and asking the police/Indonesian Military stations to move out from the concession area (company).
This cooperation and collaboration at the national and provincial level is hoped to set a positive precedent and send a strong signal that there will be zero tolerance for violations endangering the environment and the country’s rich natural resources and bio-diversity. UKP4/REDD+ Task Force will continue to review other permits that may have been improperly issued and also monitor activities of the license or permit holders to ensure that such acts are not repeated.
For further information please contact
Chair of Communication and Stakeholders Engagement Working Group
REDD+ Task Force
Article was originally published by in The Globe Journal, free translation by Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP)
Firman Hidayat | The Globe Journal
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 17:30 WIB
Banda Aceh – After WALHI Aceh massively exposed the controversial ‘in principle’ permit, Irwandi Yusuf finally admitted that he regretted issuing it and wants to revoke it. There was pressure on me to issue the ‘in principle’ permit, there was support for it from several people and agencies.
“I regret signing the permit for PT. Kalista Alam,” said the former Governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf.
Irwandi Yusuf’s remorse suggests he was forced to issue the in principle permit. “The permit I issued was no different from one issued by the Regent of Nagan Raya, and there was no influence at all,” said Irwandi Yusuf.
The problem of the permit for PT. Kalista Alam is very unfortunate. Irwandi himself also admitted that he had previously rejected the company’s request many times. “I ‘kicked it aside’ almost for two years, until evaluations eventually appeared from the provincial Forestry Office regarding the Leuser Ecosystem issue and a letter from the Police stating that the company had no legal problems,” said Irwandi convincingly.
“It could actually have been a problem if I had just ignored these letters. I could have been sued in the Administrative Court, since all requirements for the permit appeared to be fulfilled,” he continued.
Still, Irwandi did not simply rely on the supporting recommendations of these others, so he consulted with Aceh Green, and it appeared the Tripa Peat Swamp was not included in the moratorium map issued by President SBY.
Then there was an assessment or analysis by the Provincial Forestry Department regarding the Leuser Ecosystem, identifying that the utilisation of the area of the Leuser Ecosystem did not preclude this, if there was already an existing permit. “Tripa Peat Swamp is within the Leuser Ecosystem, but there is an exception that already existing permits (i.e. when the Ecosystem was established) must be respected, and what’s more, the official map of the Leuser Ecosystem was only newly made,” said Irwandi Yusuf.
“I only issued an “in principle” permit, with the Regent of Nagan Raya, whilst the concession permit itself comes from the Central Government, which the company itself takes care of,” said Irwandi during his press conference at Rumoh Aceh on Wednesday (18/07) lunchtime.
“I regret that I signed it, but since the Police said there was no problem, and as the Head of the District Parliament in Nagan Raya , Samsuardi (also known as Juragan), and a Chinese person came to see me, and they (Juragan and the Chinese person) said that they wanted to accommodate 30% plasma with the plantation, since, according to them, many community members from Nagan Raya are still unemployed, I then signed the permit,” stressed Irwandi Yusuf.
Actually, the Tripa problem lies with the company, PT Kallista Alam. According to the former Governor of Aceh, they still do not have a full concession permit, but the company has already started work. “If they don’t yet have the concession permit and they are already working that is clearly wrong,” he repeated.
“I would really like to revoke that permit letter,” said Irwandi Yusuf, closing the interview.
Revoke All Permits
The Coalition Team to Save the Tripa Swamps (TKPRT) urged the current Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, to send a recommendation to related Ministries regarding the withdrawal of all concession permits in the Tripa Peat Swamp, Nagan Raya District.
TKPRT’s spokesperson, Irsadi is waiting to see if Aceh’s Governor is brave enough to apply an immediate moratorium on all activities by concessions in the Tripa Peat Swamp and then revoke all permits within Tripa.
Irsadi has also expressed sincere appreciation to the UKP4 (REDD+ Task Force) in Jakarta, who have already written to the Governor of Aceh to revoke the permits of two of the problem companies, namely PT. Kallista Alam and PT. Surya Panen Subur-2.
“It would be far better to cancel all the concession permits in the Tripa Peat Swamps,” emphasized Irsadi.
Provincial Forestry Office is Provincial Branch of Department of Forestry on National Level
Leuser Ecosystem Management Authority is Provincial Government Agency managing Leuser Ecosystem