Region’s Smog Shows Need for Better Oversight; More Than US$7 Billion Lost
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.
JAKARTA – Deputy V heading the Legal Division of the Ministry of Environment, Sudariono, explained that a team of State Attorney Lawyers will file a lawsuit in the case of the Tripa Peat Swamp this week.
“The plan is at the beginning of this month, and within one to three days, the team of State Attorney Lawyers, as the legal representatives of the Minister of the Environment, will depart for Aceh,” said Sudariono during a press conference after a Coordination Meeting on Environmental Law Enforcement in 2012 in Jakarta, last Tuesday morning, November 6, 2012.
He said, there are two lawsuits to be filed: a criminal case and a civil case related to PT. Kallista Alam (KA) and PT. Surya Panen Subur (SPS) 2. For PT. KA the case will be filed in Nagan Raya, Aceh Barat, namely the District Court of Meulaboh.
While for PT. SPS-2 the case will be filed in the District Court of Jakarta. But, Sudariono did not declare exactly which court. “In accordance with the deed,” he claimed.
Sudariono said that for the criminal case, the team of State Attorney Lawyers is prepared with an Order of Appoinment for the Public Prosecutor to Observe the Development of the Investigation of the Crime, also known as P 16.
“The criminal charges are compiled together with BPLN LH, so hopefully,” added Sudariono.
Currently, the Ministry of Environment ,with the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, are applying a Certification Programme for Environmental Judges.
The goal of this programme is to improve the legal handling of environmental cases at all court levels, including the Administrative Court, to better fulfill the sense of justice for litigants involved, and also to support efforts in environmental protection.
“There are still laws that are unclear, so this certification programme is important in order to build a common perception,” said the Head of the Supreme Court, Hatta Ali.
Hatta Ali said that the enforcement of environmental law so far strictly refers to Law No. 32/ 2009, but there are still obstacles on the field. “Concerning expert witnesses, for example, what is the criteria? Does it fulfill the requirements for filing a “legal standing?” said Ali.
The Ministry of Environment indicated that the Certification Programme for Environmental Judges will be carried out for two months. This programme prioritises the judges in charge in the regions with the most severe envrionmental destruction, namely Sumatera, Java and Kalimantan.(bna)
- Melanie Subono investigates the destruction of Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Governor: Protect Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Historic Cancellation of Oil Palm Permit Opens Door for Prosecution of Companies Crimes (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
In a huge turn of events last week and a massive step in the right direction for the Tripa peat forest of Sumatra, the Administrative High Court of Medan hascommanded the Governor of Aceh to withdraw the permit of palm oil company PT Kallista Alam.
This is the very same palm oil company that played a role in the tragic illegal burning of the Tripa rainforest last Spring, which threatened this delicate peat swamp, home to the highest population density of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan anywhere on Earth.
PT Kallista Alam’s permit was originally issued by former Governor Yusuf in August 2011 to allow 1,605 hectares (just under 4,000 acres) of deep peat in the Tripa forest to be converted into oil palm plantations. The permit was issued despite the fact that the area of Tripa covered by the permit is protected by national laws that prevent any development that causes environmental degradation or destruction. A police report was filed by the local community to the National Police in Jakarta, and Indonesian environmental group WALHI sought legal justice by filing a case against Governor Yusuf and PT Kallista Alam for the illegal expansion into the Tripa forest.
But the story only thickens from there. This past March, hundreds of fires raged through the Tripa peat swamp as palm oil companies rushed to clear the forestbefore the verdict was announced—with none other than PT Kallista Alam leading the pack. To the dismay of environmentalists and orangutan lovers alike, the Indonesian court decided to throw out the case and WALHI filed for an appeal. RAN and Tripa supporters from all around the world sent thousands of emails, faxes, letters and petitions to the Indonesian government, and Tripa became the subject of a National Police investigation into the crimes and illegal burning by the expanding oil palm plantations.
That brings us to today. Since the appeal was filed, the world has witnessed continued burning of Tripa— fires so bad that they created a regional air quality crisis and made the extinction of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan a more imminent reality.
The High Court’s decision to grant the appeal and its order to the Governor of Aceh to withdraw PT Kallista Alam’s permit is not just an achievement for WALHI, but also a victory for the communities of Aceh and the hundreds of national and international groups concerned with the conservation of Tripa. This decision sets a new precedent that law enforcement is key for the protection of Indonesia’s forests. WALHI expects this may be the beginning of “momentum of law enforcement in a broader sense” concering environmental issues in Indonesia.
But this is not the end of the road for saving the threatened rainforests of Tripa. Rather, it’s only a small step in the right direction. Now it’s up to Governor Zaini Abdullah to follow through with his instructions and cancel PT Kallista Allam’s permit. Beyond revoking the permit, other necessary action is needed by the courts in order to protect Tripa: evaluate the licenses of the other palm oil companies operating illegally and revoke any permits in violation of legal procedure, and punish the guilty parties who issued any illegal permits. Tripa is an important test case to see if Indonesian Police and Government really can uphold the law—the survival of Tripa depends on it.
This small but meaningful win for Tripa was made possible with the help of the thousands of people worldwide who took actions to put a spotlight on Tripa and created international pressure to save this peatland. There’s still a long road ahead, but we will continue to call for support and together we can continue to gain significant victories towards saving Tripa once and for all.
- Sumatran Orangutan Species on the Brink as 3,950 Acre Tripa Peat Swamp Decimated (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Walhi Scores Big Win Over Illegal Permit (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- It’s either orangutans or cheap palm oil (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Good News for Species on the Brink of Extinction in Tripa (understory.ran.org)
- Charred Footprints | TEMPO (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Victory: Indonesian court revokes oil palm concession in Tripa peat swamp (climate-connections.org)
Press release is available for download here
Rilis dalam bahasa indonesia dapat diunduh disini
Jakarta, September 6, 2012 – The REDD+ Task Force welcomes the Medan State Administrative High Court Decision dated August 30, 2012 that accepted the appeal of civil society organizations (WALHI Aceh) and ordered the Aceh Governor to revoke PT Kalista Alam’s plantation permit for 1,605 hectares land in Rawa Tripa, Nagan Raya District, Aceh Province. “This decision is in line with our recommendation because the land utilisation permit granted to PT. Kalista Alam was based on invalidated location permit (izin lokasi) and is included in the Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM). So, we hope there will be no more mismanagement in the process of permit issuance,” said Chair of the Working Group of Legal Review and Law Enforcement of the REDD+ Task Force, Mas Achmad Santosa.
Rawa Tripa is deemed peatland area included in the Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM) located in the Province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. “Peatlands are susceptible to fires when drained, so protecting it means materializing our development goals and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 41 percent,” continued Mas Achmad Santosa. Previously, WALHI Aceh sued the Governor of Aceh and PT. Kalista Alam to revoke the Aceh Governor Permit No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 dated August 25, 2011. WALHI Aceh’s demand to revoke palm oil plantation permit in Rawa Tripa granted by the Governor of Aceh to PT Kalista Alam was rejected in April 2012 by Banda Aceh State Administrative
Court judge panel on the basis that parties involved have not gone through out-of-court settlement efforts. Some 21 villages around Rawa Tripa had also protested that the establishment of PT Kallista Alam had caused their water level in the community’s wells to drop drastically.
On July 4,2012, the Head of the Presidential Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4), Ministry of Environment, and National Police’s Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim Polri) visited Rawa Tripa after reports of fire in the peatland area. From the visit, the Head of Aceh Police sent a letter to the Governor giving some recommendations to clarify borders of the Rawa Tripa area and revoke all plantation permits within the Rawa Tripa area by compensating them with land in other areas or with equal value.
For further information, please contact:
Chair of Communication and Stakeholders Engagement Working Group
REDD+ Task Force
In an effort to deter people from keeping orangutans in captivity, animal activists and researchers have demanded tough sanctions for anyone keeping the animals as their pets, even after turning them over to the authorities.
“It is most effective if there is an agreement that they [violators] will get a heavy punishment next time,” said Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, an orangutan researcher at the National University in Jakarta. “Otherwise, there will be no deterrent.”
Suci said that people who live in and around plantation and mining areas find the orangutans and keep them. The animals most likely wandered out of their habitats because of encroachment due to growing plantation and mining activities.
The researcher added that the process of releasing orangutans back into the wild takes a long time, costs a lot of money, and that steps must be taken to prevent their being recaptured or returned to captivity.
She added that it costs about $3,500 per year to care for an orangutan that has been in captivity, and prepare it for a life in the wild. That cost does not include health care.
“We are also very disappointed that while we are releasing orangutans back to nature, defendants in orangutan killings are only given sentences of between eight and 10 months,” Suci said. “Where is the deterrent effect?”
Experts say there are 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans remaining in the wild. Eighty percent of them are in Indonesia and the rest are in Malaysia.
Many conservationists have raised concerns that the country’s orangutans could become extinct.
A joint survey by 19 organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, WWF and the Association of Primate Experts, recently discovered that about 750 orangutans died in 2008 and 2009, mostly because of conflicts with human beings.
The Orangutan Reintroduction Center of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, has released 23 of the 40 orangutans scheduled to be released this year.
At the Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, only six of the projected 30 primates have been released.
Jamartin Sihite, BOS chief executive, said recently that the problems and high cost of releasing back orangutans to the wild was due to a shortage of suitable land for a habitat.
“There isn’t enough land that’s suitable and free from disruption,” he said.
In trying to secure more land, the foundation had to obtain land concession rights from the Forestry Ministry.
It paid Rp 13 billion ($1.4 million) for the rights to 86,450 hectares of land for the next 60 years, Jamartin said.
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
Banda Aceh – The Ministry of Environment and the Nationa Police in Jakarta will be very serious to solve the case related to the slash and burn activity as well as to concession permits in Tripa Peat Swamp. Deputy V of the Ministry of Environment, Sudariyono, said to The Globe Journal on Friday (06/07) that the Ministry of Environment only concentrates on two cases occurred in Tripa Peat Swamp.
He explained that those two cases relate to peat burning filed as crime lawsuit and to environmental destruction filed as civil lawsuit. “The National and Provincial Police concentrate in the Law No. 18/2008 on Plantation, thus relates to permits,” said Sudaryono.
“So, the domain of the Ministry of Forestry is to concentrate in the two cases only, that will be handed over to the Attorney General as soon as possible,” he added To date, the Ministry of Environment has interrogated 32 witnesses for both companies, 19 for PT. Surya Panen Subur and 13 for PT. Kalista Alam.
Still according to Daryono, the interrogation of the witnesses were conducted in three different location, locally, in Banda Aceh and in Jakarta. “From the community directly on site,” he continued.
The Ministry of Forestry only focuses on peat burning, since this already damages the environment. “Currently, no one was named as suspect,” said Daryono ending of the interview.
- Ministry of Environment Will Sue Two Companies in Tripa (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Fires in Protected Peat Forest Have Companies Feeling the Heat (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Graft suspected in palm oil conversion (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)