December 2012: The Sumatran orangutan is losing habitat fast. Pristine forest in Indonesia is being carved up, set on fire and converted into palm oil plantations at a shocking pace. The drive for profit is seeing palm oil companies also move into areas of protected forest – like the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest in Aceh. Home to many iconic species, including the densest population of the last remaining 6,600 Sumatran orangutans, Tripa is also a critical carbon storehouse for the planet.
The destruction of Tripa is having disastrous consequences: for the wildlife and biodiversity which is perishing with it, for the local communities whose livelihoods depend upon it, and for all the rest of us as carbon emissions escalate. Tragically, over 80% of orangutans in Tripa forest are estimated to have perished as a result of this habitat destruction.
But in a case that could make history, two palm oil companies are now facing court for operating illegally in Tripa. The tireless efforts of local and international NGOs have pushed this issue forward and it is about to become a real test case for Indonesia. If the law is upheld and the law-breakers are punished then there is hope for protecting other areas of forest in Indonesia in the future. If not, the law loses even more ground and greed gets the green light. International public pressure is urgently needed to help uphold Indonesia’s environmental laws and to take a stand against this blatant exploitation for the benefit of so few. Please add your voice and help show that the world is watching this case.
What you can do right now:
1. Sign this petition to demand that the law be upheld in the Tripa case:
2. Find out more and donate to the campaign at:
3. Like and Share this video as widely as possible.
PRESS RELEASE: Walhi makes historic legal intervention as rogue palm oil company tries to sue Governor of Aceh over cancellation of controversial palm oil permit in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest
14/12/2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Walhi makes historic legal intervention as rogue palm oil company tries to sue Governor of Aceh over cancellation of controversial palm oil permit in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest
[Banda Aceh] In an unprecedented legal move, on Thursday 13th December in the Administration court of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Walhi Aceh (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) motioned to join the Governor of Aceh Province as a co-defendent in a lawsuit brought against him by palm oil company PT. Kallista Alam, whose controversial palm oil concession in the Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh he recently cancelled after law courts found clear legal infractions in the issuance of its plantation permit.
“WALHI’s move to intervene like this is the first ever of its kind in Indonesia, and serves to emphasise just how serious we are in our support for the Governor’s strong stance in upholding the law against illegal permits in the province”, stated Walhi Aceh Executive Director, TM Zulfiker. “In regard to the intervention”, he continued, “WALHI indeed have a serious interest in this case and wish to be represented in court. We must ensure the Administrational Court in Banda Aceh fully understands the legal processes that have led to this new case being filed, in particular the course of events that followed after Walhi won the appeal in its case against the company at the Administration Court in Medan, which led directly to the Governor taking action and revoking the company’s permit”.
Luhut MP Pangaribuan, head of the legal team representing PT Kallista Alam, objected to the motion, stating that WALHI Aceh have no interest in the case but Zuhri, the lawyer working for WALHI Aceh, immediately refuted this, stating that “The motion to join the case is based on the legal precedent and actions of the case filed by WALHI against the previous Governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf, and the company PT Kalista Alam, for legal irregularities in the now revoked permit. The permit was revoked by Aceh’s current Governor, Zaini Abdullah, after a court order requesting him to do so was issued by the Administration Court in Medan. This is precisely why we wish to stand by that decision and support the Governor for taking the correct legal course of action in revoking the permit”.
Today there are several ongoing legal cases related to the company PT Kallista Alam, as explained by Kamaruddin, a lawyer representing Tripa Community. “Firstly, there was the original case filed by WALHI Aceh against the company and former Governor for the issuance of the illegal permit. In this case, the judges in the administrational court of Medan agreed with WALHI Aceh, that there were indeed a number of legal infractions in the issuance of the permit. It was this decision that resulted in the current Governor cancelling the permit. Now the company is attempting to appeal this earlier decision with the Supreme Court in Jakarta”.
“Secondly, and in a separate case, PT Kallista Alam is attempting to sue the new Governor over the permit’s cancellation in the administrational court of Banda Aceh, even though it was revoked in full compliance with the law, as clearly demonstrated by the judges decision in the case described above. It is this new lawsuit in which WALHI is seeking to intervene and join, as a co-defendant standing alongside Governor Zaini Abdullah.”
“Thirdly, also in a seperate case, the Ministry of Environment and the Attourney Generals Office are taking legal action against the PT Kallista Alam for legal infringements in the field, at the district court of Meulaboh, in West Aceh.”. Kamaruddin went on to explain, “the main problem for all of us is that whilst these lengthy court battles are ongoing, the destruction of the unique Tripa peat swamp forests by Kallista Alam and other companies is continuing unchecked. All of the companies in Tripa are still actively commiting crimes in the field, and PT Kallista seems to be deliberately trying to prolong proceedings and slow down the cases against them”.
As the court was settling for Tuesday’s hearing in Banda Aceh, an angry protest was heard outside the courtroom, “PT Kallista Alam has destroyed Tripa and is selling out our country”, Fery, a protester from the coalition of students and community for Tripa, shouted through a megaphone to a mob of over 50 university students who had gathered, chanting, singing and carrying placards, to affirm their support for Aceh’s Governor and his stance against law breakers.
“It’s blatantly obvious there have been numerous crimes committed in Tripa relating to spatial planning law, environmental law, and forestry plantation law. There have also been clear breaches of the Indonesian Government’s moratorium on new plantations in primary forests and peatlands, which resulted from the billion dollar agreement between Indonesia and Norway”, stated Deddy Ratih, Spatial Planning Campaigner for WALHI Indonesia. “While WALHI is taking action in support of Aceh’s Governor, illegal actions in the field must also be halted by direct intervention of the police and both Provincial and National Government. Even today, despite all the legal wrangling in the courts, canals continue to drain the last of the life from Tripa’s protected peat swamps and PT Kallista Alam is simply playing games, as it tries to prolong and delay implementation of the law. The reality is that every day plantation activities in the field are slowing killing Tripa. All of the companies operating there must be reviewed and have their permits cancelled if they are not in full compliance with the letter of the law. Activities must be stopped and all drainage canals blocked immediately if this critically important and unique ecosystem is to have any chance of recovery”.
“No matter what the eventual outcomes of the various legal process taking place, it will all be meaningless unless strong and decisive action is taken right now on the ground, all the permits should be revoked immediately and work begin to restore the damaged areas”, he reiterated.
Public information on the appeal lodged by PT Kallista Alam with the Supreme Court is limited, and a decision on whether the appeal will be allowed to proceed or not is considered likely to take place ‘in camera’ (behind closed doors).
For further comment or information please contact:
Deddy Raith – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spatial Planning Campaigner, Walhi Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)
Yuyun Indradi – email@example.com
Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia
- PT. Kallista Alam suing Aceh Government in regard to revoking permit (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Palm Oil company PT Kallista Alam fails to show in court case filed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment over destruction of world renowned Sumatran Orangutan stronghold, the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest. (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- District court of Meulaboh delay Kallista hearing for the second time (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Tomorrow, The Civil Trial for Tripa Case Will Be Held In Meulaboh (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- State Attorney Lawyers File The Legal Case of Tripa Peat Swamp This Week (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
October 01, 2012
Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah officially revoked the business permit for a company developing a controversial oil palm plantation in a peat swamp in Sumatra, concluding a case that had tested Indonesia’s commitment to a moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and rainforests.
Abdullah revoked palm oil company PT Kallista Alam’s permit on Thursday after an Indonesian court instructed him to do so. Earlier the central government’s REDD+ task force concluded the plantation in the Tripa peatland violated multiple regulations.
“This is the first in the history of the Government of Aceh,” said Makmur Ibrahim, Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat.
The permit allowing PT Kallista Alam to establish a 1,605-hectare plantation in the Tripa peat swamp was controversial because it violated a country-wide moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and primary forests issued in 2011 by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The concession was granted by the former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf more than three months after the moratorium went into effect.
A local environmental group — the Aceh chapter Walhi — filed suit against PT Kallista Alam and the Aceh government to test the central government’s commitment to the moratorium. The case garnered international interest for both its egregious nature — multiple regulations should have protected the land from conversion — and the presence of critically endangered orangutans. Local communities were also opposed to the plantation, bringing in a human rights element as well.
PT Kallista Alam is also the subject of a police investigation for illegal burning, according to The Jakarta Post.
Over the past 20 years Indonesia has had one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world, but in 2009 Indonesian Yudhoyono pledged to reduce deforestation as part of a commitment to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Under his “7/26″ plan, Indonesia aims to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent — and up to 41 percent with international support — by 2020 relative to a business-as-usual scenario. Norway has committed up to $1 billion to support the initiative.
Nurdin Hasan | September 28, 2012
Banda Aceh. Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah has revoked the business permit for a palm oil plantation in Rawa Dipa, a lush forest and peatland region in the province’s Nagan Raya district.
The move to close the estate, which is owned by plantation firm Kallista Alam, was hailed as a victory by environmentalists, who have sought to see the stretch of land protected.
Makmur Ibrahim, the Aceh administration’s legal and public relations bureau head, said that the governor signed the revocation letter on Thursday to comply with a ruling issued by the Medan High Court on Aug. 30, ordering the permit to be pulled.
“It’s not possible to file an appeal on the High Court’s ruling and that’s the basis of [our decision],” Makmur said on Friday. “All of PT Kallista’s activity on the 1,605-hectare plantation must stop. It will be a violation of the law if it continues to operate.”
He added that Aceh’s Forestry and Plantation Agency will monitor the company to ensure that it complies with the order.
The company obtained the permit to open the plantation from then governor Irwandi Yusuf in August 2011.
But the governor’s decision was met with protests by environmental activists who said that the area was the habitat of Sumatran orangutans, which are critically endangered, and other rare animals.
The Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) dragged the governor to the Aceh state administrative court but the court rejected Walhi’s suit on April 3. Walhi then appealed the ruling to the Medan High Court.
Walhi Aceh praised the governor’s willingness to comply with the law.
“The order from the Medan High Court is clear that the Aceh governor has to revoke the permit for PT Kallista’s 1,605 hectare plantation in Rawa Tripa,” Walhi Aceh director T. Muhammad Zulfikar said. “The Aceh administration has to execute the ruling because if not, it will be in violation of the law.”
Zulfikar said that Rawa Tripa is part of the Leuser Ecosystem Area, which is considered a strategic national zone that is protected.
The permit originally allowed the firm to set up shop in the Tripa peat area, which was within the boundary of a deforestation moratorium area on a map that had been published in 2011. Critics claim that the permit should not have been issued because companies aren’t allowed to do damage to protected areas.
A government-formed task force later concluded that Kallista Alam had violated regulations by turning the swamp forest into a plantation.
Senin, 24 September 2012 14:30 WIB
MURDANI ABDULLAH | Free translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat, Makmur Ibrahim, said that the plan to withdraw Klaista Alam’s permit by the Government of Aceh under Zaini Abdullah is the first within the whole history of Aceh. This is considered important and to show high commitment of the current Government of Aceh to protect forest conservation, especially in Tripa Peat Swamp. “This is the first in the history of the Government of Aceh,” said Makmur on Monday, September 24, 2012. Makmur continued that being staff member he is ready to implement the Governor’s instruction and will immediately process the plan. He hopes that this will be accepted by all parties in Aceh. As reported earlier, the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, requested the head of BP2T on Monday September 24, 2012 to immediately prepare a draft for the revocation of Kalista Alam’s permit, which relates to the recently announced decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan. The Governor of Aceh, through the Head of Legal and PR Office, Makmur Ibrahim, also said that this decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan is final. “We wait for the draft of the revocation from BP2T. If this can be process within 2 days, then we will also withdraw in 2 days,” said Makmur.
Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah has been instructed to revoke a legally problematic business permit owned by oil company, PT Kallista Alam, which operates in the carbon-rich Tripa peat swamps in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, by the Medan Administrative Court after granting an appeal filed by the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).
The permit was granted to the company by former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf on Aug. 25, 2011, contradicting Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on the moratorium of new permits in primary forests and peatland conversion areas.
Walhi Aceh’s executive director, Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar, applauded the verdict, which was signed by a panel of judges led by Arpani Mansur on Aug. 30, saying it was an important ruling supporting efforts to protect more than 61,000 hectares of Tripa peatland.
“We urge the Aceh governor to immediately follow up the verdict by revoking the company’s permit, as well as evaluating all permits owned by other oil palm companies operating in the area,” Zulfikar said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post Digital on Wednesday.
Tripa peat swamp is peatland with a depth of three meters or more, meaning it is protected under a 1990 presidential decree.
PT Kallista Alam is also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the National Police for allegedly illegally burning the protected peat swamp to convert the area into an oil palm plantation, further threatening the ecosystem of about 200 orangutans that live in the area.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
free translatation by Gunung Gea – original text in Bahasa Indonesia is available here
Banda Aceh – Head of Aceh Integrated Licensing and Service Board (BP2T) M. Yahya was reported to the Aceh Provincial Police in connection with suspected falsification of the data in a position paper prepared for the Governor of Aceh on 27th October 2010. In the said position paper, it was written that the peat depth in the Tripa Peat Swamps was between 0.5 to 1.5 metres.
“As a result of this position paper, the then-Governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf (Governor from 2007 – 2012) issued a ‘permit in principle’ to PT Kallista Alam in the Tripa swamps. Whereas the position paper contradicted PT Kallista Alam’s own 2010 Environmental documentation (UKL/UPL) prepared by their environmental consultation that stated that the peat depth averages over 3 metres (page III-6)” said the spokesperson for the Coaltion Team for Saving the Tripa Swamps (TKPRT), Irsadi Aristora, who was making the report to the police.
He told the Globe Journal in Wednesday (29/8) that investigators from the Ministry of the Environment had also measured the peat depth in Tripa to be greater than 3 metres. The report from TPKRT was recorded by the Aceh Police as report number BL/188/VIII/2012/SPKT, signed by Aipda Khairuddin.
The Globe unsuccessfully tried to contact the head of BP2T, as he did not answer repeated calls to his cell phone. When he finally answered his phone he claimed “I am sorry, I cannot hear you on my cell phone, the Cell phone is not functioning”.
At midday, Gustav Leo from the Public Relations section of the Aceh Police, when contacted, promised to follow-up the report. “I will check the report, I am at ‘SPKT (Sentra Pelayanan Kepolisian Terpadu/Integrated Police Service Centre)’, but it will definitely be followed up” he said.
“It will definitely be followed-up, hopefully members of the public can provide strong evidence” he reiterated.
The Director of Walhi Aceh, TM Zulfikar stated that the head of Aceh Police must pursue this case to its conclusion. The report from TKPRT and the public in the Tripa swamps must follow-up until it goes to court. “Don’t just stop with the report and then there is no follow-up” said Zulfikar, while also saying that Walhi Aceh together with the TKPRT, will continually monitor developments with this case until it goes to court.
Jakarta, KOMPAS – Restoration of Tripa Peat Swamp Forest within the Aceh’s Leuser Ecosystem, which is damaged through clearing by burning, is the responsibility of the company operating in the area. The damage is currently being calculated by the Ministry of Environment and experts from Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB).
“The result from the lab is estimated to be finalised,” said Basuki Wasuki from the Lab of Forest Influence of the forest ecology of IPB, Tuesday (22/5) in Jakarta.
Together with Hero Suharjo (Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and Head of the Lab for Forest Fire and Agriculural Land), he (remarks: Basuki) was requested by the Ministry of Environment to join the analysis of the case of Tripa Peat Swamp.
Basuki explained that he took some samples several weeks ago from and conducted observation in Tripa. He concluded that peat fires of more than 500 ha occurred for the purpose of oil palm plantation.
Visual observation was then continued with lab analysis to support legal evidence and environmental damage calculation.
Through lab analysis, the rate of peat dryness, loss of flora and fauna as well as other damage can by concluded. The reference for the calculation is the Regulation of the Minister of Environment No. 13/2011 on the Financial Indemnity for Damage caused by Pollution and/or Environmental Destruction.
Details of the value are the indemnity for damage caused by unfulfilled responsibility, indemnity to verification and environmental observation cost(survey and lab), indemnity to rehabilitation cost and environmental damage.
Deputy of Environmental Planning, Sudariyono, explained that the cost and the effort for the rehabilitation of Tripa Peat Swamp, according to the laws, are the responsibility of the company or of the company’s individual. This is based on the Article 116 and 108 of the Law No. 32/2009 on the Protection and Management of the Environment.
“The risk for the perpetrator of environmental destruction is the deprivation of profits and withdrawal of the concession permit as well as cessation of palm oil activities.
Besides indemnity to the environmental damage and recovery cost, crime lawsuit is also to be filed. Last Tuesday, two persons, each representing one company, have been interrogated by civil investigator.
JAKARTA, KOMPAS – Civil investigator from the Ministry of Environment on Tuesday (22/05) afternoon started hearing of witnesses of the burning of Leuser Ecosystem’s Tripa Peat Swamp in Aceh’s Nagan Raya District. The witnesses are from the management of PT Kalista Alam and PT Surya Panen Subur 2.
“This hearing is the follow-up on the onsite investigation conducted several times ago. Two witnesses from the companies attended the hearing. Next week we are going to invite witnesses from the local government, such as from the District Office of Forestry, Agriculture and other related offices,” said Deputy of Environmental Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment, Sudariyono, in Jakarta.
While in Nagan Raya, the team has interview the witnesses from local community, filed to strengthen the findings of the investigator.
Sudariyono put forward that the investigator team has found that area of Tripa Peat Swamp was cleared by burning for oil palm plantation. The burning violates the Article 108 of the Law No. 32/2009 on the Environmental Protection and Management, charge with the minimum of 3 years up to 10 years in prison and fined with the minimum of IDR 3 billion up to 10 billion.
Besides the criminal aspect, the investigator also applied civil rights, as there is environmental destruction caused by the fire resulting in state loss. “The indemnity is still being calculated. The civil process is in parallel to the criminal lawsuit,” said Sudariyono.
The case emerged after WALHI and several others NGOs in Aceh filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Aceh based on the issuance of a permit for 1,605 ha within the area of LEuser Ecosystem. The Administrative Court in Banda Aceh rejected to make a verdict.
The awkwardness of the permit issuance alerted the Development Supervision and Control Division of the Presidential Working Unit (UKP4).
Meanwhile, the Director of PT Surya Panen Subur, Eddy Sutjahyo Busiri, said that his company did not set the fire, but was a victim of the fire set by the neighbouring plantation. “We reported directly to the police and local environmentalists to witness the fire themselves,” he said