Press release is available for download here
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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
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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
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta
The Tripa peat swamp, one with the largest capacity to store carbon in Aceh, is near complete ruin. Investigations carried out by a joint team continue to scour for criminal violations that destroyed the once rich peatland forest.
IN the middle of a vast, burned down forest littered with charred, blackened tree trunks, Basuki Wasis instructs one of his staffers to stick a pipe into the ground. One enters right through and stops at a meter deep. A second and then a third pipe sinks easily into the swamp land. The fourth sinks, and then stops at just forty centimeters deep.
After taking ground samples, Basuki records his findings in a pocket notebook – this was land with peat layers of 3.6 meters deep. “This is evidence of a violation committed via planting on peatland,” Basuki told Tempo, who accompanied the researcher from the Bogor Agricultural Institute during the drilling of pipes into the burned swamp land two weeks ago.
On this burned land controlled by palm oil plantation company Kallista Alam, they also gathered samples of charred trees and mounds of ash. “This is further proof to take Kallista Alam to court,” said Bayu Hardjanto, an investigator from the Ministry of Environment.
This land used to be the lush Tripa peatland forest, located within the protected Leuser Ecosystem, and referred to as the country’s lungs in the heart of the tsunami-plagued Aceh province. Tripa used to be teeming with one of the world’s populations of critically-endangered Sumatran orangutans. Tripa had the largest and the most critical capacity to store carbon in Aceh. A permit to convert the peat swamp had been issued to Kallista Alam by then Aceh Governor Irwandy Yusuf on August 25, 2011 – three months following the issuance of an indicative map for protected forests, identifying Tripa as a protected zone.
The license granted to Kallista involved 1,605 hectares of the peat swamp.
The indicative map of protected forests was drawn up in May 2011 and used in line with a ban on new clearing permits for an area of about 60 million hectares of forests and peatlands, launched under President Yudhoyono’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) program. The presidential instruction on the ban was issued on May 20 of 2011. There is also a law in place prohibiting the issuance of new concessions on land with peat layers more than three meters deep.
Despite this, Kallista Alam and Surya Panen Subur (SPS) 2, another plantation company, received concessions in Tripa. A lawsuit filed by Indonesia’s largest environmental group, Walhi, on November 23 of last year to have that license revoked was thrown out on April 2
this year by the Banda Aceh Administrative Court. Walhi has since appealed.
Ground checks and investigations carried out this year by a joint team from the Ministry of Forestry, REDD+ Task Force and the Ministry of Environment found evidence that Tripa had not just been cleared out and replanted with palm oil plantations, it had been burned,
slashed and thoroughly drained, thus gradually releasing carbon dioxide.
This joint team first flew into Aceh for the Tripa investigation on May 4. They had been accompanied by investigators from the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office.
The team works under the guidance of REDD+ task force chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who heads the Presidential Unit for Development, Supervision and Oversight (UKP4),
The Tripa peatland forest is now on the brink of ruin. In the 1980s, this forest covered no less than 62 thousand hectares. Today, it extends to no more than 17 thousand hectares – and it continues to be razed off. There have been indications of arson in recent fires at the protected peat forest, according to the Environment Ministry, with strong indications that the culprits are companies waiting to convert the forested regions into palm oil plantations.
This is despite the fact that Tripa has been slotted back into the indicative map, better known as the moratorium map, this year. On May 21, UKP4 announced that an additional 379 thousand hectares had been added to the map. The protected area covered in the revision
– which is the second since the ban came into effect – amounts to 65.75 million hectares of peatlands, primary forests and conservation areas.
The first revision of the map occurred on November 20, 2011 and had come under intense media scrutiny – it had scrapped the Tripa forest off it. This was a reason used by Kallista Alam to point out that since Tripa had been scrapped off the map, converting the forest into a plantation on the basis of a permit issued by the Aceh Governor was consistent with existing regulations. However, the joint team investigating the Tripa case learned eventually that forest clearing activities by Kallista Alam dated back to years before 2011.
A broader investigative piece on the Tripa forest devastation is featured in this week’s TEMPO English Edition magazine.
Untung Widyanto (Aceh), Jajang Jamaluddin, Gita Lal (Jakarta)
Banda Aceh – In a meeting at Hermes Palace Hotel in Banda Aceh on July 4, the Coalition for the Protection of Tripa (TKPRT) urged the UKP4 Team that came to hear directly about the issues related to the case of Tripa Peat Swamp caused by the issuance of the Governor Permit No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 dated on August 25, 2011 regarding Plantation Permit for PT. Kalista Alam in the village of Pulo Kruet, Nagan Raya District, Aceh Province.
The meeting was attended by journalists, academicians from Unsyiah, local community and NGOs members of TKPRT as well as team for Jakarta consisting of UKP4, REDD+ Task Force, Crime Division of the National Police, Staff of MoE, Banda Aceh Legal Aid organization and Government officials from BPKEL.
Adnan NS, on behalf of the Tripa community and YEL, complaint about the sluggish law enforcement process in this case. This contributes to accelerated destruction of the ecosystem of Tripa Peat Swamp. Similar statement was addressed by Halim G regarding the increasing pressure felt on the field during the case of Tripa Peat Swamp, especially towards local community leaders, among others Ibduh, who was intimidated by the military in Darul Makmur Sub district. The pressure towards Ibduh came from third party through cellular phone. The military official introduced as DANRAMIL (Sub district Military Commander) of Darul Makmur has called Ibduh over his cellular phone to come to the Sub district Military Headquarter and started there with interrogation related to Ibduh’s report to the Central Police in Jakarta.
Firmed statement has been addressed by the Executive Director of WALHI Aceh, TM Zulfikar, to the Task Force’s team concerning the weak law enforcement that reflects the rule of the blade: dull on top and sharp at the bottom, which also means that the real actor is still untouched. National economic development, which should have focused on the welfare of the community, turned out to be more for the favour of big companies’ economic welfare. In fact, in the efforts to achieve 26% emission reduction created more emotions in its implementation.
The spokesperson of TKPRT hoped that the team of the Task Force and the UKP4 currently working in the case of Tripa to not only stand still during the investigation process. It is clear that the team, as published in the REDD Task Force’s press release of April 13, 2012, has identified 3 violations of the laws through the issuance of the permit with the most important note stating that the law has to be enforced. From the findings of the Task Force, there are 3 violations of the Laws No. 18/2004 on Plantation, No. 32/2009 on the Protection and the Management of the Environment and No. 26/2007 on the Spatial Planning in conjunction with the Presidential Decree No. 32/1990 on the Management of Protected Areas.
“Based on these finding, we hope that there will be prosecution or conviction of the (former) Governor of Aceh and his cronies involved in the issuance of the permit, as it was published in the media. TKPRT’s investigation identified 24 violations of the permit to legal regulations, illegal activities as well as abuse of authority and official position. We therefore ask the team to apply corruption clause to incur deterrent effect and to avoid other officials to do the same error,” said the spokesperson of TKPRT, Irsadi Aristora.
Listening to the critics and inputs from the attendants, the team replied to each of the question started by the staf of MoE explaining that the letter from KPU4 to the MoE to be immediately responded, proven by their visit (to Tripa) in the beginning of April. “Currently, the team of MoE have identified the indications of 2 legal violations: 1. Crime against the environment; 2. Civil rights violation re the loss caused by environmental destruction through clearing by burning,” said the staf of MoE.
“Currently we are applying the full package together with the General Attorney in looking directly at the forest fires of both companies SPS2 and KA. At the beginning of May directly with an expert from IPB, Basuki Wasis, we intensively interrogated witnesses from the company, Government Offices, National Land Office and Ministry of Forestry as well as community. The process is still ongoing, especially related to the EIA and it hopefully will be finalised as soon as possible, and we need support from quickly and carefully,” he added.
Insp. Gen. Gatot from the Criminal Division of the National Police addressed that investigation is currently carried out by the Police at province level in Aceh with direct backup from the Central Police. At the field level, we have identified that the company has cleared the area prior to the issuance of the plantation permit. “Currently we are about to investigate through witnesses and plantation expert, which we requested to send 3 experts, but still not realised. The plants have been planted before the issuance of plantation permit that was then issued in August 2011, even there was irregularities related to the permit,” he said.
Deputy VI of UKP4, Mas Achmad Santosa, through R. Samadji concluded that there are 6 points to be addressed to the Governor:
- The Spatial Plan of the Leuser Ecosystem to be restructured through a multi-party commitment that will be endorsed from all sides;
- Complete moratorium of the utilisation of Tripa Peat Swamp, through blocking the drainage canals and ceasing peat fires;
- To conduct scientific research on the biodiversity of Tripa Peat Swamp;
- Restoration and rehabilitation of Tripa ecosystem;
- To restore community’s trust in the security officials in Aceh;
- Political will to revoke all palm oil permit within Tripa Peat Swamp;
As delivered to AtjehLINK by the spokesperson of TKPRT, Irsadi Aristora, on Tuesday (10/7).
The Atjeh Post
Muhajir Abdul Aziz – Free translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – The restoration of destroyed ecosystem of Tripa Peat Swamp has been requested by the Presidential Working Unit and the Ministry of Environment to the Governor of Aceh.
This was said by Mas Achmad Santosa, Head of the Working Group for Regulation and Law Enforcement Analysis of the Task Force REDD+ in Banda Aceh on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
According to Mas Achmad, restoration means the reorganisation of the spatial plan of Aceh as well as the bio-ecosystem of and moratorium of land use on Tripa Peat Swamp. Moratorium, he said, is very important to stop the on-going destruction of Tripa Peat Swamp.
“The restoration of the ecosystem of Tripa Peat Swamp is necessary for the sustainability of biological existence, scientific analysis about Tripa Peat Swamp ecosystem is also needed,” said Mas Achmad Santosa, who also known as Okta.
Besides, this team, he said, also requested the regional government to restore local community’s trust towards law enforcement officials in Aceh.
“We hoped that continuous discussion will be held in regards to the legal process in the case of Tripa Peat Swamp,” said Okta.
Before departing to Nagan Raya tomorrow to directly visit the ecosystem of Tripa Peat Swamp, the team met with the Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah in his official office room on Wednesday afternoon, July 4, 2012. 
- Kuntoro Requests The Governor of Aceh to Revoke Plantation Permit in Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- UKP4 requested the withdrawal of palm oil plantation permits in Tripa | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Tripa Peat Swamp Re-Included in the Moratorium (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Clearing of Tripa Peat Swamp Forest Threatening Orangutan | Koran Tempo (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
The Atjeh Post
Wednesday, July 04, 2012 22:45 WIB
MUHAJIR ABDUL AZIZ, Free Translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – Head of UKP4 , Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, requested the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, to revoke the permits of two companies operating in the Tripa Peat Swamp Ecosystem in Nagan Raya.
This request was addressed by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto in his capacity as the Head of UKP4 through an official letter to the the Governor on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
In the letter read by one of the Deuputies of UKP4, Mas Achmad Santosa, Kuntoro requested to the Governor to withdraw the permits Surya Panen Subur II and PT Kalista Alam.
But Achmad Santosa did not explain the reason of Kuntoro Mangkusubroto requesting the withdrawal of the permits of both companies. “We will first meet with the Governor,” said Achmad Santosa, or known also as Otta, to Atjeh Post.
Besides those two things, Otta also explained that Kuntoro requested the Governor to coordinate with the Aceh Provincial Police in the implementation of the withdrawal of those permits.
Previously, Zaini Abdullah told The Atjeh Post that the case of environmental destruction conducted by some companies in the Ecosystem of Tripa Peat Swamp has to be seriously taken into account. The Governor also regretted the destruction of that particular peat swamp area.
“This should have not happened, we will discuss in the very next opportunity,” said Zaini Abdullah after the inauguration process of the Banda Aceh’s Mayor and his Deputy on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
THE carbon-rich peat forests of northern Sumatra are burning again as palm oil companies break Indonesian law to clear the land for their plantations.
Environmental groups have warned that the local population of critically endangered orang-utans are ”doomed” unless the fires are stopped.
Also, smoke from the burning is at times engulfing cities in Malaysia and Thailand, prompting doctors in Kuala Lumpur recently to warn residents with respiratory problems to wear masks.
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Photographs from the Tripa peat forest in Aceh show widespread burning, which the head investigator of the Indonesian environment ministry, Syarifudin Akbar, estimates now covers almost 2000 hectares.
”This is a criminal case because the law says it’s a crime to open a land by burning,” Mr Akbar told the Herald.
Local environmentalists say the fires are lit by palm oil companies and threaten a population of about 200 orang-utans in this area – one of the densest populations in the world.
More than 3000 of the great apes once lived in the area that is being cleared. Now just 7000 live on the whole island of Sumatra, which has been hit in recent years with uncontrolled clearing of primary forests for palm oil plantations.
The latest fires were detected by satellites monitoring fire activity last week, and confirmed by field staff from local environmental groups.
The environment department, the national police and the government’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) taskforce are investigating.
A spokesman for the REDD taskforce, Achmad Santosa, agreed the forest burning was ”an issue of law enforcement” and that it was ”exactly the job of the REDD taskforce, that is to ensure the enforcement of the law”.
The head of the REDD taskforce, Kuntoro, visited Aceh yesterday to speak to the governor and check the situation on the ground.
But Kamaruddin, a lawyer for the Tripa community, said the investigations now under way were ”proving to be too little too late”, and called for the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to get involved.
”These companies simply have to be ordered to stop [clearing] immediately and that order to be strictly enforced, otherwise the peat forests and inhabitants of Tripa will be lost forever,” he said.
Dr Yudhoyono has won global applause for pro-conservation statements, the most recent at the Rio+20 summit, where he said: ”deforestation is a thing of the past” and that ”losing our tropical rainforests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster”.
But this has not stopped the annual ”burning season” of forests in Borneo and Sumatra – nor the smoke haze over Asia – as companies take advantage of dry weather to prepare the ground for new plantations.
”Despite all these words and statements and speeches about conserving orang-utans and peat lands and reducing carbon emissions … the evidence is there has been no change,” said the director of conservation at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, Ian Singleton.
Part of the area being burnt is owned by the palm oil company PT Kallista Allam, which was granted a concession now under challenge in the Indonesian courts. The former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf said he had granted the concession as a wake-up call to the international community over its inaction on a carbon pricing mechanism in Indonesian forests.
However, a company spokesman told the Herald that the fire had blown into their area from a neighbouring concession.
The owner of that land, PT Agro Maju Raya, could not be contacted.
- Illegal Indonesian fires threaten great apes (smh.com.au)
- Sumatra burns in palm oil rush (smh.com.au)
- Fires threaten to ‘extinguish’ critical Indonesian orangutan population (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Tripa continues to burn as President Yudhoyono to give global policy address on future of Indonesia’s forests (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)