Tag Archive | Non-governmental organization

Burned orangutan dies as result of increasing palm oil demand


burned orangutan.

Tina Page | Greener Ideal

After his forest home was destroyed to make room for palm fruit oil plantations in West Borneo, the charred primate pictured above dared to abate his starvation by feeding on the fruit of the trees that replaced his former lush peat jungle.

In an attempt to smoke the animal out of the palm tree it had taken refuge in, villagers accidentally set the entire tree and the orangutan on fire. He plummeted out of the tree and into the care of International Animal Rescue (IAR).

Although originally expected to make a full recovery, IAR reported that the orangutan succumbed to his burns and overall malnourished state when he died last week.

While this specific incident is immensely tragic taken on its own, the orangutan species as a whole is under serious threat in large part because of the world’s demand for cheap palm fruit oil which is fueling the clear cutting and burning of Indonesia’s once-vast rain forests to establish palm plantations.

Orangutans can only be found naturally on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo and are divided into two species based on which island they live. Both species are listed on the IUCN Red List of the mostendangered species in the world. The Bornean orangutan is listed as “endangered,” and its Sumatran cousins bear the burden of being listed as “critically endangered,” and in immediate threat of extinction.

Estimates put the Borneo great apes at numbering about 54,000, and the Sumatran at about 6,600, giving orangutans a spot as one of the World’s Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, according to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

These close human relatives are arguably the most intelligent of our ape cousins and use tools better than any other non-human primate. As they attempt to live out their lives in the same way they’ve been doing for millennia, their forest homes are being destroyed at a rate of about three football fields every day.

Just in the last 20 years, half of Indonesia’s rain forest has been obliterated, and, as Leila Salazar-Lopez of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) told Voices for our Planet, the government has announced plans to convert an area of virgin forest about the size of Missouri into palm plantations by 2020.

This mass destruction is taking the lives of about 50 orangutans per week, Zoos Victoria in Australiaestimates. And demand for palm oil just keeps increasing. According to RAN, “demand for the oil surged by an average of 2.2 million metric tons worldwide each year between 2000 and 2009.”

While conservationists are projecting that we may see the extinction of these beautiful, long-red-haired apes in the next few decades, it doesn’t take a scientist to do the math. As long as we keep buying products containing palm fruit oil, orangutans will continue to be treated as agricultural pests and subjected to being burned alive in their own homes, shot as they forage for food, imprisoned for the exotic pet trade and tortured in captivity to do tricks for tourists.

Palm oil has become popular with industries from cosmetics to processed food to biodiesel because it is the cheapest of the vegetable oils to manufacture. And it is in everything. A quick scan of all of my favorite green products broke my heart. I was just as responsible for the burning of that orangutan as any of the villagers that set the fire.

My Earth Balance peanut butter and “buttery” spread said simply “Palm Fruit Oil.” My Seventh Generation dish soap and laundry detergents both listed “sodium lauryl sulfate” as one of the first ingredients.

A quick call the Earth Balance revealed that it sources most of its palm oil from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) members. While this is a step above the majority of companies, is still does nothing to guarantee that orangutans are not being harassed or even killed.

The RSPO was created by NGOs and palm oil stakeholders in an effort to create a way for palm oil to be grown sustainably. The process is not perfect as there are few advantages to being certified.  But if more consumers begin demanding that companies source only RSPO certified palm oil, the system would advance.

One of the biggest challenges for consumers is the lack of appropriate labeling for palm oil. Found in more than 60 percent of manufactured goods, it can be listed under more than 200 different names.

The sodium lauryl sulfate in my Seventh Generation laundry detergent is most likely palm-oil sourced (they did not return my call for more information). It can be listed simply as “vegetable oil,” or other common ingredients that come at the price of Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s rain forests and their inhabitants (and all of us for that matter) are cetyl alcohol, linoleic acid or octyl palmitate. Check out this complete list. 

The destruction of these forests has made Indonesia the largest emitter of carbon dioxide after the United States and China as the reckless clearing of peat swamp forests releases huge amounts of the gas while leaving a trail of species at risk for extinction like our close relative the orangutan and the mysterious Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant.

While we might figure out a way to survive a world filled with carbon dioxide gas and devoid of forests, we will have to figure out a way to enjoy it alone.

This is the BBC’s coverage of the orangutan burning.



Road Construction in Aceh Fragment Wildlife Habitat.

Road construction in Aceh fragmenting forest, causing environmental destruction and disconnecting wildlife corridor. Photo: Chik Rini

By Chik Rini (Contributor Aceh), July 28, 2012 8:22 am
Mongabay Indonesia

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.

UKP4 requested the withdrawal of palm oil plantation permits in Tripa | KOMPAS

kompas cetak – free translation by Adji Darsoyo

UKP4 requested the withdrawal of land use permits issued for a company covering 1,605 ha in Tripa Peat Swamp, Aceh. This request has been addressed during their meeting with the Head of Aceh Police and the Governor of Aceh, Wednesday (04/07).

Wednesday evening I met with the Governor of Aceh requesting him to withdraw violating permits,” said Deputy VI  of UKP4, Mas Achmad Santosa, in Banda Aceh yesterday. He, together with the Deputy V of UKP4, Nirarta Samadhi, have also met with Environmental NGOs in Aceh, community representatives, BPKEL, Ministry of Environment, environmental experts and the police.

Last June, a team of UKP4, Ministry of Environment, Police and Attorney General visited Tripa Peat Swamp. The investigators checked the plantation management on site.

Executive Director WALHI Aceh, TM Zulfikar, said that the activities of palm oil companies in Tripa did not only lead to environmental destruction but also violating the law. Various government regulations ignores the restriction of clearing this protected area.

Among others is the Presidential Decree No. 32/1990 stated that peatland of more than 3 m deep has to be accredited as protection area. This is enforced by the Government Regulation No. 26/2008 that included Tripa Peat Swamp as part of the Leuser Ecosystem. Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on Moratorium of New Permit in Primary Forest and Peatlands was issued in 2011.

“Those regulations were just ignored. Even, in August 2011, the former Governor of Aceh issued a land use permit covering 1,605 ha. Clearing by burning also continues without any sanction,” he said.

The Coordinator of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari for Tripa Peat Swamp, Halim Gurning, said that surrounding community of Tripa and NGOs habe reported the case to the police. But, they were terrorised instead.

Brig. Gen. Gatot from Criminal Division of the Central Police leading the case of environmental violation in Tripa Peat Swamp said that the investigators found evidence of violations conducted by the companies, especially related to clearing by burning. “Irregularities were found in the permit issued by the Governor of Aceh in August 2011,” he said.

Separately, the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, said that the issuance of the permit for one of the companies in Tripa should have not happened. “This problem will be discussed further with UKP4,” he said.

Next Week, Hearing of Witnesses | KOMPAS

Next Week, Hearing of Witnesses 

Jakarta, Kompas – Joint investigator consisting of Ministry of Environment, Police and Attorney General on Monday (21/5) were scheduled to start collecting information from witnesses on the case of clearing by burning in Tripa Peat Swamp within the Aceh’s Leuser Ecosystem. The witnesses are from the companies PT Kalista Alam and PT Surya Panen Subur 2. This is the follow up on the site investigation sometimes ago.

“Now is the first call for witnesses from both companies. Other witnesses are also from government agencies, such as Provincial Government of Aceh and the National Land Agency,” said Sudariyono, Deputy of Environmental Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment, last Friday in Jakarta.

Currently, the team has collect information from local community in Nagan Raya, filed to strengthen the findings of the investigators.

On site, the team of investigators found evidence of clearing by burning of Tripa Peat Swamp area for the purpose of oil palm plantation. Burning of land violates the Article 108 of the Law No. 32/2009 on the Protection and the Management of the Environment, with the minimum sentence of 3 years up to 10 years in prison and fine of between IDR 1 to 10 billion.

Besides criminal law, investigators also apply civil law based on the environmental destruction caused by fire, which is defined as state loss. “We are currently calculating the damage. The civil process runs in parallel to the legal process of the crime suit,” he said.

The case of Tripa emerged after WALHI and some other NGOs in Aceh filed a law suit against the Governor of Aceh on the issuance of permit for 1,605 ha within the Leuser Ecosystem. The law suit was rejected by the panel of judges of the administrative court in Banda Aceh.

The odd decision on the case has reached the Presidential Working Unit of Development Supervision and Control  (UKP4), which is also the Task Force REDD+. The Head of UKP4 Kuntoro Mangkusubroto recommended that the investigators of the Ministry of Environment, the Police and the Attorney General take over the case.

Over the phone on Friday afternoon, the Director of PT Surya Panen Subur, Eddy Sutjahyo Busiri, has received the summon for hearing. “It is scheduled for Tuesday. We will certainly attend and bring evidence and data,” he said.

He said that his company did not burn but was victim of burning by its neighbouring plantation. Thursday afternoon his staffs in Tripa Peat Swamp were on alert based on fire within the area of PT Kalista Alam.

”We alerted directly the police and Local Office of Environment to witness the fire themselves,” he said.

Improving Coordination

Separately, Tjokorda Nirarta Samadhi, the Coordinator of the Moratorium Monitoring Work Group of the Task Force REDD+, agreed that the case on Tripa opened the path for the review on the areas within the moratorium map.

He recommended that various government agencies coordinate with each other and monitor. (ICH)

Suspect In The Case of Tripa Peat Swamp Subject to Criminal and Civil Lawsuit | KOMPAS

Suspect In The Case of Tripa Peat Swamp Subject to Criminal and Civil Lawsuit

Ichwan Susanto | Marcus Suprihadi

Ministry of Environment investigation team collected more than a dozen soil samples as well as measuring peat depth from various hotspots in SPS2 concession. Upon field finding of company operating in peat deeper than 3 meter, MoE investigation team question why does the company illegally operate in deep peat? SPS2 representatives responded by claiming they have never measured the peat depth and he is not aware about the concession Environmental Impact Assessment document.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com —Investigating team on the case of Tripa Peat Swamp will go through criminal and civil lawsuit to solve the clearing by burning of Tripa Peat Swamp in Aceh‘s Nagan Raya District. This is expected to give example on law enforcement related to environmental cases.

“We (Ministry of Environment) will pursuit through criminal and civil lawsuit. The subject of responsibility can be the person in charge, corporate or both. We’ll see how the legal filing will looks like,” said Sudariyono, Deputy of Environmental Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment last Friday (18/5/2012) contacted from Jakarta.

He said that the onsite investigation of this case has been finalised last week by the team of joint investigators from the Ministry of Environment, the Police and the Attorney General. Now the case is prepared for filing and call on witnesses is in preparation.

The case on Tripa Peat Swamp emerged after WALHI and other NGOs in Aceh filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Aceh, who issued a permit for 1,605 ha within Leuser Ecosystem. The lawsuit was revoked by the panel of judges.

The odd decision of on the case has reached the Presidential Working Unit of Development Supervision and Control (UKP4), which is also the Task Force REDD+.

The Head of UKP4 Kuntoro Mangkusubroto recommended that the investigators of the Ministry of Environment, the Police and the Attorney General take over the case.

Sudariyono said that the crime conducted (by PT Kalista Alam and Surya Panens Subur 2) through clearing by burning violates the Law No. 32/2009 on the Protection and Management of the Environment. From the perspective of civil right, it causes environmental damages.

Ministry of Foresty Sent Letter To Aceh Governor Re Tripa Peat Swamp | KOMPAS

Ministry of Foresty Sent Letter To Aceh Governor Re Tripa Peat Swamp

Ichwan Susanto | Marcus Suprihadi

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com- Indonesian Ministry of Forestry sent a letter to the Aceh Governor in order to have details on the permit issued by the former governor, Irwandi Yusuf,  on 1,605 ha to PT Kalista Alam. The respond from the current governor will be utilised as a base either to re-inlude the area into  or to keep the area excluded from the moratorium map.

“We have asked the Governor, whether the permit for PT Kalista Alam is a new permit or an extension,” said Bambang Soepijanto, Director General for Forest Planology of the Ministy of Forestry on Saturday in (19/5/2012) Jakarta.

If the permit for the 1,605 ha in Tripa Peat Swamp (part of Leuser Ecosystem) is a new permit, then the former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf did not apply the Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 forbidding any issuance of permit starting May 2011.

If it is an extension permit, while plantation and location permit are issued, Bambang declared not to be able to re-include in the moratorium map.

The urgency for the Ministry of Forestry to re-include the 1,605 ha of Tripa Peat Swamp comes from the community, NGOs and the Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control (UKP4).

WALHI has also sent a letter last February 2012 to the Aceh Govrnor requestng to withdraw the oil palm  plantation permit of 1.605 hektar for PT Kalista Alam in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.