Despite moratorium and investigation, fires rage in key Sumatran peat swamp

Mongabay.com

Several fires are burning in a contested concession within Aceh Province’s Tripa peat swamp raising questions about the efficacy of a high-profile investigation by Indonesian authorities, say environmentalists. Satellite data and aerial photos released by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program show dozens of fires burning across Sumatra’s Tripa landscape, including six within the PT Kallista Alam concession, which is the subject of an investigation into whether the palm oil company’s license violates Indonesia’s moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and primary forests.

Last month Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Head of the Indonesian President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and Chair of the REDD+ Task Force, called Kallista Alam’s activities illegal and said they must stop. But the fires indicate that land-clearing is still occurring in the concession despite the investigation by the Ministry of Forestry and demands from the central government. Kamaruddin, the head lawyer for the Tripa community which filed suit against Kallista Alam and the governor of Aceh, said the fires indicate “complete disregard for Indonesian law and the authority of the ongoing investigation.”

“A direct Presidential Instruction is urgently required to bring an immediate halt to the rampant and illegal destruction of Tripa, not a speech telling the world deforestation is a thing of the past,” Kamaruddin said, alluding to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s statements at CIFOR and Rio+20 suggesting that Indonesia has already emerged as a leader on reducing deforestation.

In his speeches, the president cited undocumented deforestation data from the Ministry of Forestry in asserting that Indonesian’s deforestation rate is now lower than 500,000 ha per year. Fires in Tripa from 17/06/12 – 26/06/12 “There is no doubt that each of these companies is breaking several laws. Whilst we realize, and very much appreciate and support the investigation going on (by the Department of Environment), it’s proving to be too little too lateg. These companies simply have to be ordered to stop immediately, and that order to be strictly enforced, otherwise the Peat Forests and inhabitants of Tripa will be lost forever.”Environmental groups have taken a stand over Tripa due to its once high density of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. The area is also part of the Leuser ecosystem and consists of carbon dense peat forest, which should be prohibited from conversion over several local and national regulations and commitments.The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program recently launched a petition on Change.org demanding action by the Indonesian government.

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About endoftheicons

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.

5 responses to “Despite moratorium and investigation, fires rage in key Sumatran peat swamp”

  1. Judy says :

    Has President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyoho been on the moon for the last few months?!!!!!!!doesn’t he read his emails or answer his phone or listen to his people around him begging for him to say the word-STOP?Isn’t he the one in charge?What is the point of him being President if the laws he makes are ignored?I’m sick of all this claptrap about listening to and abiding by-Just stop the illegal activities of these criminal Palm oil Companies who have no respect for anyone or anything?They are systematically destroying every bit of Rainforest in Indonesia whilst the government stands by………Do it now President SBY,TODAY,NOW.I have signed,along with thousands of other like minded people several petitions regarding these illegal fires.I don’t want to have to sign anymore.

    • endoftheicons says :

      The petition is actually making a huge difference in assisting with the difficult political work behind the scenes right now.

      Keep up the great work, the strength of the campaign to save and restore Tripa is the people all around the world, just like you, who have been taking action, signing and sharing petitions, and pushing for Indonesia to uphold its laws.

      Our team couldn’t do it without you. Your support has made a world of difference to the political work, every single one of you. The campaign to restore Tripa is a success in action.

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