Archive | July 2013

Another Elephant Found Dead in Aceh

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 5.50.04 PMIn this photo taken on May 10, 2013 two children look at a dead Sumatran elephant that was killed by electrocution the day before at Blang Gajah Mate village, in Pidie, Aceh. (AFP Photo/Zian Mustaqin)

By Nurdin Hasan   Jakarta Globe  July 26

Banda Aceh. Another elephant has been found dead in Aceh, the second this month, with reports from local people indicating that the elephant’s tusks have been removed.

“Conflicts between elephants and humans often happen in Blang Tualang and the neighboring village of Pante Labu,” Rabono Wiranata, the head of non-governmental organization Fakta said on Friday. “Some villagers or hunters may have placed poison on the track often used by elephants.”

The adult male elephant was found on Thursday inside an oil palm plantation run by state-owned PTPN I in Blang Tualang village, East Aceh.

Rabono said the elephant was understood to have died four days ago.

He added that local residents had repeatedly complained about a pack of elephants “trespassing” on their plantations and destroying plants, but there had been no serious response from the local authorities.

The head of Aceh’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Amon Zamora, said he received a report of the death on Thursday night. A team was dispatched to the area on Friday morning.

“But [the team] haven’t returned, so I don’t know yet as to what caused the elephant’s death,” Amon told the Jakarta Globe. “I’ve told the team to report the case to police if the tusks were gone. If they were gone, we would strongly suspect that it’s been murdered.”

The finding came just two weeks after a 30-year-old male elephant was found dead in Ranto Sabon village in the Aceh Jaya district, Its tusks had been severed.

Aceh Jaya Forest Ranger commander Armidi said the elephant died after it was caught in a sharp metal trap placed on a big tree log.

Police and BKSDA Aceh have not been able to find the perpetrators.

The latest finding brought the number of elephant deaths in Aceh to four over the past three months.

On May 9, a 10-year-old male elephant was found dead due to electrocution in Bangkeh village in the Pidie district.

On June 23, a two-year-old elephant died after having been looked after for two months by residents of Blang Pante village in the North Aceh district. The villagers took care of the elephant cub after it was left behind by its pack in a local plantation.

Demand for ivory has soared in recent years, primarily due to increased demand from China, where it is highly valued for its use in crafting ornaments. Elephant tusks sell for several hundred dollars per kilogram.

Hotspots increase in Sumatra, haze could return: NEA

AsiaOne    Jul 21, 2013

Most are in Riau province. The other hotspots on the island are primarily further north, in Aceh and North Sumatra.

 

SINGAPORE – The number of hotspots in Sumatra as tracked by satellites has gone up sharply in the last two days to reach 159 yesterday, the National Environmental Agency (NEA) said.

Of these hotspots, 63 are detected in the Riau province in central Sumatra, which is about 280km from Singapore. Some localised smoke plumes are observed to emanate from the hotspots. The other hotspots on the island are primarily further north, in Aceh and North Sumatra.

Although the smoke haze is not being blown towards Singapore at this time due to wind direction, the air quality here might take a hit if winds start to blow from the west.

At the moment, the winds are blowing from the southeast or the east.

NEA said that some states in Peninsular Malaysia have been experiencing a deterioration in their air quality since late morning yesterday with the highest Air Pollutant Index (PSI) reading at 5am today being 98 in Bukit Rambai, Malacca.

Over the next two days, dry weather conditions are expected to persist in most parts of Sumatra.

NEA will provide further haze alerts to the public if these events become more likely.

 

Indonesia: Forestry Failures Jeopardize ‘Green Growth’

Region’s Smog Shows Need for Better Oversight; More Than US$7 Billion Lost
July 16, 2013  Human Rights Watch
(Jakarta) – Government corruption and mismanagement plague Indonesia’s forestry sector, with serious consequences for human rights and the environment, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The smog roiling Indonesia and its neighbors is partly a result of Indonesia’s ‘green growth’ strategy, which involves clearing forests for the rapid expansion of oil palm and pulp plantations.

The 61-page report, “The Dark Side of Green Growth: Human Rights Impacts of Weak Governance in Indonesia’s Forestry Sector,” finds that illegal logging and forest-sector mismanagement resulted in losses to the Indonesian government of more than US$7 billion between 2007 and 2011. Indonesia recently introduced reforms to address some of these concerns and has been touting its forestry policies as a model of sustainable ‘green growth.’ But much logging in Indonesia remains off-the-books, fees are set artificially low, and existing laws and regulations are often flaunted. A “zero burning” policy and a moratorium on forest clearing are manifestly inadequate.

“The return of the smog is only the most tangible evidence of the damage from Indonesia’s continuing failure to effectively manage its forests,” said Joe Saunders, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Weak law enforcement, mismanagement, and corruption are to blame not only for the smog but also for the loss of billions of dollars a year in desperately needed public funds.”

The persistent failures have global implications. The smog causing so much suffering for Indonesia’s neighbors is produced by clearing forests for agriculture, a practice so widespread that it makes Indonesia’s carbon emissions among the largest in the world. The Obama administration announced on June 26, 2013, that it would invest more in sustainable forestry overseas as a way to combat climate change. However, without improvements in governance in Indonesia, greater investments by the international community may not bring significant change in the status quo.

The Indonesian government recently introduced reforms in part aimed at addressing forest mismanagement and corruption, including a timber legality certification system and a freedom of information law, but such efforts have fallen far short of their aims. The new report, an update to the 2009 Human Rights Watch report “Wild Money,” analyzes industry and government data, concluding that the pace of revenue loss has actually increased in recent years. In 2011 alone, the losses totaled more than $2 billion – more than the country’s entire health budget for that year, undermining the government’s ability to provide basic services to its population, Human Rights Watch said.

It is not only during the dry season that Indonesians suffer the negative consequences of forest mismanagement. The significant loss of revenues contributes to the government’s disappointing progress on a number of human rights concerns, notably those related to rural health care.

Indonesia’s forest communities, among the country’s poorest groups, have been harmed the most under the current system. Many of these communities have constitutionally recognized rights to use the land and forests or be adequately compensated for their loss. But the new legality certification system does not address whether timber is harvested in violation of community rights to forest lands.

Increasing demand for land to expand plantations appears to be leading to more violent land conflicts, Human Rights Watch said. The problem is especially acute on the island of Sumatra, where the majority of pulp and oil palm plantations – and most of this year’s fire hotspots – are located, often on land claimed by local communities. The government’s failure to comply with its own regulations for issuing concessions on forest land claimed by communities and its failure to hold companies accountable for violating legally required compensation agreements have led to an escalation in disputes. For example, in 2011, the escalation of long standing land disputes associated with an oil palm plantation in the Mesuji sub-district of South Sumatra led to violent clashes between local villagers and company security, leaving two local farmers and seven company staff dead.

In May the Constitutional Court ruled that the government’s practice of allocating concessions on customary land is unconstitutional, offering some hope to those communities. However, in the current climate of opaque, unaccountable forest governance, without adequate participation and oversight, identifying and registering rights to these lucrative forestlands could easily result in more, rather than fewer conflicts, Human Rights Watch said.

 

Elephant poaching

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 6.00.13 PM

Photo: AFP/Getty

Huffington Post

A resident (R) looks at the carcass of a male Sumatran elephant, its head and trunks mutilated and ivory tusks missing, in Aceh Jaya district on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. According to Natural Resources Conservation Agency the elephant was killed by a booby trap set up by unidentified people.

In the month of May, three elephants were found dead in Tesso Nilo National Park, south of Aceh. Fewer than 3,000 endangered Sumatran elephants remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rampant expansion of palm oil, paper plantations, and mines, has destroyed nearly 70 percent of the Sumatran elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, conservationist says, and the animals remain a target of poaching.

 

Students Urge Court to Withdraw PT Kalista Alam’s Permit

ACEH BARAT – Tens of thousands of members of the Committee of Students Concerned For The Environment demonstrated on Thursday in front of the District Court of Meulaboh, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the permit of PT Kalista Alam, a palm oil company operating in the environmentally  sensitive Tripa peat swamps.
“Withdraw the concession permit of PT Kalista Alam and the state shall confiscate it, since there is no benefit for the community,” shouted the coordinator of the action, Rizky Burnama.
The students also urged the district court to fairly decide the case on PT Kalista Alam. The court was conducting session in the case filed by the Ministry of Environment (M0E) through the State Attorney related to the clearing by burning in Tripa peat swamp.
“Bring the owner and the shareholders of PT Kalista Alam to court and punish them as fair as possible. If proven guilty, we want PT Kalista Alam to pay the material damage to the affected community,” said Rizky.
The students also brought banners condemning the company. One read ‘Save Tripa Peat Swamp, Withdraw the permit of PT Kalista Alam.’ They also performed a theatrical act by colouring their bodies green and black.

The Chairman of the District Court of Meulaboh, Rahmawati, addressed to the demonstrating students, saying the court would render a fair decision in accordance with the law.
“Thank you to the students for their support to this court to handle the case of PT Kalista Alam. Give us your trust. We will be fair in the decision of this case,” said Rahmawati.

Peat Fires Within PT. Kalista Alam Caused Through Human Act

Aceh Terkini     July 5

ACEH TERKINI – An expert witness of the Ministry of Environment (MoE), Bambang Heru Saharjo, said that the fire in the peatland area of PT. Kalista Alam in Nagan Raya was caused through a human act, not by nature.
“Nature escalated the fire, but it was a human act,” said Bambang in his explanation during the civil court session on Thursday at the District Court of Meulaboh.
In front of the Panel of Judges chaired by Rahmawati SH, Bambang explained that the indicator for the fires is hotspot data.
Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 7.17.03 PM
To identify the fire, Bambang had to conduct field visit. “I went twice to the area of PT. Kalista Alam, directly assisted by the representative of the company,” Bambang admitted.
The fire was clearly a result of human act, not caused by the nature. “The peat fires should have been able to control by the company,” he said.
The fires caused green house gas (GHG) emission. “If the fire spread, it could have caused smog fatal for the health of any living creatures,” said this expert of land/forest fires of the Agriculture Institute of Bogor (IPB).
Still according to Bambang, after the peat was set on fire, palm oil can still be planted using the ash substituting fertilizers. “But the product is lost its economic value,” said Bambang, who once collected the samples of peat fire within the area of PT. Kalista Alam.

Flood in Tripa Caused By Damaged Peat Function

Basuki Wasis, Dosen Fakultas Kehutanan IPB. Foto @acehterkini.com

Basuki Wasis, Dosen Fakultas Kehutanan IPB. Foto @acehterkini.com

July 7, Aceh Terkini

ACEH TERKINI – The Destruction of Tripa Peat Swamp within Leuser Ecosystem in Nagan Raya District has caused frequent floods in the area.
This has been explained by the expert in environmental destruction of the Agruculture Institute of Bogor (IPB) Dr. Ir Basuki Wasis, being the expert witnes of the MoE during the court session on the Tripa peat fire case filed by the MoE against PT. Kalista Alam.
In front of the panel of judges chaired by Rahmawati SH at the District Court of Meulaboh, Thursday (4/7/2013), he explainded that the peat in Tripa is destroyed, that it has losat its thickness of between 10 to 20 cm, causing the area to be frequently flooded.
The damage to the peat was caused by peat fire and the opening of large canals.
“Those are the two main causes for the peat damage leading to frequent floods in the areas,” revealed the Lecturer of IPB’s Faculty of Forestry.
His explanantion has been also challenged by the lawyer of PT. Kalista Alam, Alfian. “I would again ask, whether it is true that if peat is burnt or canals are open, this can lead to floods?” asked Alfian.
“Yes, it is clear the peat fire and canals opening lead to peat subsicence and floods,” replied Basuki Wasis firmly.
Basuki Wasis said that peat absorbs carbon and water. “If peat is damaged, the surrounding environment will be disturbed,” said Basuki in reply to acehterkini after the court session.
Basuki Wasis was invited be the MoE to be an expert witness during for this civil case.
Present during the session are MoE legal representative Fauzul Abrar, State Prosecutors Ryan Palasi and Cahyani, MoE’s Deputy Assistant in Environmental Dispute Cicilia Sulastri and Umar Suyudi (Head of the Enviornmental Dispute Resolution of the MoE).

Representing the defendant are Luhut M.P Pangaribuan, Irianto Subiakto, Rebecca F. E Siahaan, Alfian C. Sarumaha and Firman Lubis.

The court session was chaired by Rahmwati SH, also present are the two other judges Fery Hardiansyah SH and Juanda Wijaya SH.