Representing the defendant are Luhut M.P Pangaribuan, Irianto Subiakto, Rebecca F. E Siahaan, Alfian C. Sarumaha and Firman Lubis.
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
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.
The Globe Journal,Firman Hidayat
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The countdown on the status of the large scale oil palm companies operating on this highly carbon absorbing swamp has started. At last, the Government of Aceh is involved through the establishment of an internal investigation team. In one step, Tripa Peat Swamp will either be restored or destroyed. The commitment of the Governor of Aceh will decide.
“The Governor of Aceh has the authority to withdraw all permits in Tripa Peat Swamp if those companies are still clearing by burning,” said the Head of the Legal Office of the Province Secretariat of Aceh, Makmur Ibrahim SH M Hum.
Interviewed by The Globe Journal after attending an internal meeting related to Tripa Peat Swamp on Tuesday afternoon (31/7), Makmur said that the meeting decide to send a joint team on Thursday (2/8) consisting of different offices such as Bapedal, BP2T, Government Offices of Aceh, the Police, Provincial Office of Forestry and Plantation,” he said.
“If companies in Tripa Peat Swamp are violating their permits, if there is any clauses within the permits, e.g. Operation and implementation not in accordance to the permits, both technically and administratively alligned with the existing regulation, as well as the Regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture No. 62/2007 containing statement forbidding clearing by burning, Which is also written in the Environmental Law,” added Makmur.
The clause stated that if companies conduct land clearing by burning, this is clearly violating the regulation and the permit could get revoked.
Further, all companies in Tripa Peat Swamp are obliged to frequently submit physical report. “Concerning the report, there is none up to now,” said Makmur convincing.
According to Makmur, the leter from UKP4 and from WALHI Aceh about the withdrawal of the permits of two companies in Tripa Peat Swamp can only be used as additional references. “If there is no violation, the letter is not strong enough, except it is decided through a legal process,” he said.
Currently, the Government of Aceh only focuses on the withdrawal of the permits of PT. Kalista Alam. “We will finalise one by one. PT. SPS-2 is also in our investigation list. This means, the team will submit their recommendation regarding the withdrawal of companies’ permits in Tripa Peat Swamp,” he said.
According to a liable source to The Globe Journal after the meeting, the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, stated that the permits of two companies are to be withdrawn, since they have violated the law through clearing by burning. I addition, those companies in Tripa Peat Swamp have never submitted their report, which is frequently due every six months.
Related to the burning, whether it is deliberately or accidentally, it is clear that the companies are obliged to control the fire, but the companies seem to be incapable to control the wide spreading fire. “So the permits of those companies in Tripa Peat Swamp will be withdrawn,” said the source to The Globe Journal, who also attended the meeting,
untuk bahasa indonesia klik disini
Over the past weeks you have helped us gather more than 3500 signatures at www.change.org/endoftheicons and it has prompted authorities to take action to #savetripa. Fires are still raging, drainage canals are still operating on behalf of the companies to drain the life of Tripa peat swamp, slowly and steadily killing the remaining forest and making the peat susceptible to fires. This must be stopped, all companies should receive order to halt all activities and those drainage canals must be blocked. All concession must be revoked and Tripa should be rehabilitated and restored.
Your support have made the difference and push the authorities to take action, now we need to remind them that a short overflight over Tripa is not enough to solve the problem. Tweet them and tell them what you want them to do.
Rainforest Action Network is helping us with twitter and facebook message to spread, tweet these and post them on facebook. Send them loud and clear message that we want Tripa restored and rehabilitated. Make #savetripa a trending topic on twitter!
share this on twitter
PHOTO: #Indonesia Prez: “#Forests management requires a reinvention of societies.” But #orangutans are dying now #SaveTripa http://ow.ly/i/L0wx via @RAN & @endoftheicons
post this photo on your facebook
Tell Investigation team from Department of Environment we support the investigation, and we want them to investigate all companies operating in Tripa (PT. Kallista Alam, PT. Surya Panen Subur 2, PT. Cemerlang Abadi, PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari dan PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur) and call for restoration of the whole of Tripa!
In June, Indonesian President SBY declared that forest management “will require a fundamental reinvention and reorganization of societies throughout the world.” Meanwhile, over the last 2 months, clearing of the Tripa rainforest for palm oil plantations continues with 86 illegal fire hotspots. Send President SBY a message right now asking him to save Tripa http://ow.ly/i/L0wx
Thanks @humasKLH for investigating SPS2 & KA, but we want all the permits revoked & the whole of Tripa restored! http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
REDD+ Task Force has received more than 15,000 emails in total and has been pushing for PT. Kallista Alam and PT. SPS 2 to be investigated and their permits to be revoked. However, peat swamp is one connected ecosystem, we need the whole of Tripa restored, and for that to happen we need all the companies investigated and their permit revoked!
@SatgasREDD thanks for your work so far,but we want all the destructive activities to stop & tripa restored http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
President SBY was talking about the “Future we want” and how “deforestation is the thing of the past” yet Tripa peatswamp continues to drained and burned. We want him to order immediate halt on all destructive activities in Tripa, save the remaining forest and restore the rest.
Dear President @soesilobambang order immediate halt on all destructive activities in Tripa! Restore and #savetripa http://ow.ly/c6UM0
Dear President @presidentSBY order immediate halt on all destructive activities in Tripa! Restore and #savetripa http://ow.ly/c6UM0
The Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan is responsible on deciding for what forests to stays and what forests get cut down by whom. He have stated that he wants Tripa restored and rehabilitated, but destruction still continues! Remind him again that problem is not yet solved!
Dear @zul_hasan you have to make sure all destructive activities in Tripa halted & the peatswamp restored! http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
Agus Purnomo is the Chairman of National Council of Climate Change, Tripa peatswamp destruction is a climate disaster, burning and drying of peat through the drainage canals emits thousands tons of carbon to the atmosphere. These palm oil companies are undermining Indonesian government efforts to reduce emissions. Tell them to stop!
@AgusPurnomo order immediate halt on all destructive activities in Tripa! Demand for the canals to be blocked! http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
UNDP and UN-REDD oversee the financial flow of Norway REDD+ funds to Indonesia, tell them about what had happened in Tripa and we want the Tripa peat swamp rehabilitated and restored!
@UNDP ensure the laws are being enforced & moratorium respected http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
@unredd ensure the laws are being enforced & moratorium respected http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
Executive director of UNEP was with SBY during Rio 20+ meeting as Indonesia President delivering sweet words on Indonesia achievement to reduce deforestation and picturing the “Future We Want”. In addition to that, GRASP UNEP has designated Tripa as priority site for great apes conservation. GRASP patron has historically support this campaign and request SBY to save tripa. Tell them the truth, laws still need to be enforced in Tripa!
@UNEP ensure the laws are being enforced and moratorium respected http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
@graspunep ensure the laws are being enforced! priority site for great apes conservation should be restored & rehabilitated! http://ow.ly/c6UM0 #savetripa
Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf is the newly inaugurated governor and vice governor of Aceh, they have the authority to revoked permits of ALL plantations in Tripa. Tell them we want all the permits in Tripa to be revoked and Tripa to be restored to its original state.
@zaini_abdullah order immediate halt on operation & revoke all palm oil plantation permits in Tripa, restore & #savetripa http://ow.ly/c6UM0
@MuzakirManaf order immediate halt on operation & revoke all palm oil plantation permits in Tripa, restore & #savetripa http://ow.ly/c6UM0
- The Condition of Tripa Peat Swamp Is Critical, All Drainage Canals Should Be Blocked (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- [PRESS RELEASE] Increase in fires burning in Tripa highlights Indonesian Government failing to cease deforestation (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Graft suspected in palm oil conversion (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
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)
Smoke rising from several spots scattered throughout more than 61,000 hectares of carbon-rich Tripa peat swamp forests in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, could be easily seen from a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft flying low above the area on Thursday last week.
Onboard the airplane were a number of top officials from agencies tasked with investigating a case involving palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, which was alleged to be responsible for the fires that have threatened the ecosystem of about 200 orangutans living in the area.
The case also caught the attention of the global community and has tainted the reputation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has only recently returned from the Rio +20 Summit where he touted his green initiatives, which include programs like a moratorium on deforestation.
A petition signed by concerned individuals from around the world, questioning the Indonesian government’s ability to halt the environmental destruction at Tripa, have prompted the authorities to take action.
The police, the Environment Ministry and the Forestry Ministry are all on the case, with the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) pushing for action.
The UKP4’s visit to the site was part of a move to examine the situation on the ground and collect evidence against the palm oil company.
Technicalities in the law, however, have hamstrung the investigation.
Aerial photographs of the Tripa peat swamp, for example, cannot be used as evidence by the investigation team.
“Based on the Information and Transaction Law, photographs can be only be used as evidence if they are backed up by an official report from the investigation and direct [confirmation and] testimonies from employees from the company who joined the trip,” the Environment Ministry’s investigation division head, Shaifuddin Akbar, said at the Cut Nyak Dien airport in Nagan Raya last week after wrapping up the aerial inspection. PT Kallista Alam’s employees were unavailable to take part in the task force’s investigative fly-over.
Akbar added that the team also had conducted a ground check to complete their investigative report.
Environment Ministry’s head investigator Sudariyono said that his team found strong indications that PT Kallista Alam, had deliberately burned the peat swamp to convert the area to an oil palm plantation.
“First, an aerial view showed a pattern to the burning of the forest, a strong indication that it was planned. Second, we could see that the company had done nothing to put out the fire, let alone implement preventive measures against fire. We found no personnel or fire fighting equipment stationed in the area.
Sudariyono said that all offenses were found in peatland protected by a governmental regulation.
“Our ground check found that Rawa Tripa was a peatland with a depth of three meters or more, meaning that it is protected under a 1990 presidential decree,” Sudariyono said.
He said that the investigation team was expected to file a criminal and civil suit against PT Kallista Alam and seek damages for causing environmental destruction in the area.
National Police director for special crimes Brig. Gen. Gatot Subiyaktoro said that preliminary findings indicated that the company had violated Law No. 18/2004 on plantations by conducting illegal land clearing, burning land and planting oil palms without permits.
He added that the police also found irregularities in the issuance of the plantation’s permit.
Then Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf granted the permit to the company on Aug. 25, 2011, contradicting Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on the moratorium for new permits in primary forests and peatland
Gatot said that Irwandi, who recently lost the local election in April to Zaini Abdullah, likely broke the law by overstepping his legal authority, as the issuance of such permit only needed approval from a regent.
“To pursue our investigation, we will question experts on plantation and state administration soon,” Gatot said.
The UKP4 has recommended PT Kallista Alam’s permit be revoked.
Representatives from several NGOs, including the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Aceh Legal Aid Institute, Wetlands International as well as representatives from the Leuser Ecosystem Management Authority (BPKEL), have demanded the government shut down drainage canals in Tripa peatswamp that were used by the company to drain the peat in order to prevent further degradation of the peatland.
The Tripa peat swamp was included in the Forestry Ministry’s latest “Indicative Moratorium Map” of 65,282,006 hectares of natural forests and peatland that are considered off-limits for commercial activities.
The map serves as a guideline for local administrations when issuing licenses for forest clearance for commercial purposes.
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
The Environment Ministry has found indications of arson in recent fires at the protected Tripa peat forest in Aceh, a senior ministry official said on Sunday.
“It baffles me. We are still investigating, but these fires keep occurring,” said Sudariyono, the ministry’s deputy for legal compliance.
“We have a strong suspicion that the fires are not accidental, judging by how they are shaped. When viewed from above it is very irregular. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a mitigation system, in the sense that no one’s trying to put them out.”
A moratorium map published by the ministry identified Tripa as protected area. Tripa is also part of Leuser Ecosystem, a national strategic area for environmental protection. There is also a law in place that is meant to prohibit the issuance of new concessions on land with peat layers more than three meters deep.
Despite this, two companies, Kallista Alam and Surya Panen Subur 2, received concessions in Tripa.
Kallista’s permit, issued by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, is currently the subject of a legal challenge by activists.
Sudariyono said Surya Panen “was suspected of burning some 1,183 hectares” of land inside the Tripa peat swamp from March 19 to 24 this year.
Kallista, he said, was believed to have burned some 30 hectares of its 1,605-hectare concession in the peat swamp.
The ministry has not concluded its investigation but Sudariyono said his office was already mulling legal action against Kallista and Surya Panen. The companies “could be charged in criminal court over the fires and they could face lawsuits for damaging the forest,” he said.
The Environment Ministry has questioned witnesses from the two companies, nongovernmental organizations, residents and local government offices.
- The Condition of Tripa Peat Swamp Is Critical, All Drainage Canals Should Be Blocked (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Fires threaten to ‘extinguish’ critical Indonesian orangutan population (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
SUKA MAKMUE – Top officials and representatives of UKP4, REDD+ Task Force National Police, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forestry and Leuser Ecosystem Management Authority conducted over flight to monitor Tripa Peat Swamp during their visit on Thursday, July 5, 2012.
Nirarta Samadhi, said that the Deputy V of UKP only observed the current condition of Tripa Peat Swamp from the air to complete several final steps related to the case of permits for oil palm plantation in the area.
Besides, to apply moratorium for all activities in Tripa, to request for multi-party support including from the Local Government and to conduct scientific research to identify the condition and the chemical substance of the swamp, added Nirarta.
“Also to ask the government to review the existing permits, since these are issued based on various reasons,” said Nirarta confirming to The Atjeh Post via cellular phone.
Those steps, she said, are to finalise the case and to restore Tripa Peat Swamp into protected area.
“From those several steps, we request for a good solution to avoid any error in the future,” said Nirarta.
Beforehand, based on information gathered by The Atjeh Post, the team has stopped by Cut Nyak Dhien Air Field in Nagan Raya at aroung 9:30 in the morning of Thursday, July 5, 2012 before flying over Tripa.