By Chris Lang, REDD Monitor | 22nd March 2013
More details about the Province of Aceh’s proposed spatial plan are emerging. The Jakarta Post reported this week that if the plan were approved in its current form, an area of 1.2 million hectares of forest would be converted “into plantation and mining areas and other purposes”.
The plan proposes the creation of a transmigration site inside the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This covers a total area of 2.5 million hectares and consists of three national parks, including Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh. The proposed spatial plan makes no mention of either the Leuser Ecosystem or of the Ulu Masen REDD project.
According to a press release from conservationists in Aceh, an area of slightly less than one million hectares is proposed to be allocated as mining concessions. Logging concessions would cover 416,086 hectares and oil palm plantations a further 256,250 hectares.
The protected status of the Tripa Peat Swamp would be removed. An extensive road network would be revived under the plan. Known locally as the “spider’s web”, the plan was previously rejected because of the impact it would have on Aceh’s forests. Meanwhile, only 14,704 hectares is proposed to be allocated to communities.
Earlier this week, environmentalists protested outside the Hermes Hotel in Banda Aceh, demanding that the government cancel the proposed spatial plan.
An on-line petition has been set up, which already has more than 16,000 signatures, asking Zaini Abdullah, the Govenor of Aceh, to reject the plan to convert 1.2 million hectares of Aceh’s forests and to review the spatial plan. The petition also asks the governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland “to assist with the funding and technical support for the Aceh Government to revisit and revise this potential disaster”. Sign the petition here, or click on the image below:
An interesting question is whether Aceh’s proposals are in breach of the US$1 billion Indonesia-Norway REDD deal. Obviously, they are in breach of the spirit of REDD, because the proposals will increase emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The Letter of Intent between Norway and Indonesia, signed in May 2010 states that,
The purpose of the Partnership is to contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland conversion.
This is supposed to be achieved by “Conducting a policy dialogue on international climate change policy,” in particular on REDD, and “Collaboration in supporting the development and implementation of Indonesia’s REDD+ strategy.”
According to the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force website, completing the spatial plan was part of “Aceh’s 2011 Operational Framework for REDD+ Implementation”. Although it was not completed in 2011, presumably the spatial plan for Aceh remains under the framework of Indonesia’s REDD programme.
But whether the Norwegian Government (or any of the other REDD initiatives in Indonesia) will do or say anything to stop the destruction of Aceh’s forests is another matter. If the Aceh government were allocating new concessions in areas of primary forest, then it would be in breach of the moratorium under the Indonesia-Norway deal. But if the forest is secondary, or the concessions existed before the moratorium came into effect, then the Indonesia-Norway deal has nothing to say. In any case there are no real sanctions under the moratorium. And in a few week’s time the moratorium is set to expire.
The Letter of Intent makes no mention of free, prior and informed consent, but does include the following principle on participation:
Give all relevant stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society, subject to national legislation, and, where applicable,
international instruments, the opportunity of full and effective participation in REDD+ planning and implementation.
Efendi, a spokesperson for the Coalition of people Concerned for Aceh’s Forests (KPHA),explains that the spatial plan has been produced without consultation with local communities and NGOs:
“Despite our best efforts, communities and NGOs have been completely excluded from the development process of the new spatial plan, which has totally lacked transparency and accountability.”
One “success story” of the Indonesia-Norway deal is the fact that the maps showing the moratorium area are publicly available. AMAN, Indonesia’s indigenous peoples alliance, is attempting using this “One Map” policy as an opportunity to promote its initiative of mapping indigenous territory. In November 2012, 265 maps of indigenous peoples land were handed to the REDD+ Task Force, with a request that these maps be included in the official “One Map”.
But even this “One Map” policy is not a complete success. Down To Earth commented recently that,
[W]hen DTE tried to access some of the maps mid-February  many of the map layers were not accessible and there was not an obvious means of accessing information about, say, mining and oil and gas concessions. This information is also not accessible via the most obvious place – the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry website. In contrast, there is a whole wealth of maps publicly available via the Forestry Ministry’s website, including archives as well as the moratorium maps in all four versions.
Earlier this month, Norway’s Ambassador, Stig Traavik, visited Central Kalimantan. On itswebsite, the Norwegian Embassy explains that the purpose of the visit was “to observe progresses on REDD+ preparation and implementation in the REDD+ Pilot Province”. Of course, the Embassy makes no mention of the problems with the Australian-funded Kalimantan Forest Climate Project, or the vast (and increasing) area of oil palm plantations in the province.
Neither does the Embassy refer to the fact that the Letter of Intent refers to a second province-wide pilot which “could be chosen by late 2011 and implemented by early 2012″. Of course, this has not happened. Along with many other things that were agreed under the Indonesia-Norway deal. In an recent statement, Greenpeace Indonesia comments that,
[L]ittle progress has been made so far on the moratorium and the key outputs agreed as part of the US$1 bn Indonesia-Norway forest protection deal; the establishment of the REDD Agency, and the financial and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) institutions, have not yet been achieved. The main roadblocks to more progress have been poor governance, outdated maps and data, the lack of clear social and environmental safeguards and the definition of degraded land.
Indonesia has several REDD initiatives running in parallel. There’s the US$1 billion Indonesia-Norway REDD deal. The World Bank has its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and Forest Investment Programme. Then there’s the UN Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (the replacement for the UN-REDD Indonesia programme, that closed its office in January 2013). But will any of them attempt to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Aceh?
As Indonesia’s president talks of “sustainable growth with equity”, Tripa continues to burn | REDD Monitor
By Chris Lang, 13th June 2012
Today, Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is giving a policy address at CIFOR on the theme “Forests in the Future We Want”. He’s painting a rosy picture of the way Indonesia has addressed the problems that the forest sector caused in the past.
Yes, you read that correctly. The problems are in the past, according to Yudhoyono. “Environmental sustainability is at the heart of all long term plans,” Yudhoyono said. In his speech, he mentioned “sustainable growth with equity.” Exactly what this has to do with Indonesia’s booming coal mining sector is anyone’s guess.
Last week, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo met Yudhoyono. He invited him to go on Greenpeace’s new Rainbow Warrior ship while he’s at the Rio +20 meeting in Brazil. But, Naidoo decided not to remind the President of the uncomfortable truth of Indonesia’s continued deforestation. After the meeting, Naidoo said that,
“Greenpeace had a cordial and constructive meeting with the President. We remain committed to working with the Indonesian government to advance our joint goals of environmental protection and poverty alleviation… Greenpeace supports the existing forest moratorium and in our meeting we called on the President to extend it, and ensure it delivers on its intention of protecting Indonesia’s forests and the people who depend on it for their survival.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s forests continue to burn. Today, the Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Forest put out a press release about the continued destruction of peat swamp forests in Tripa, Aceh Province.
Tripa continues to burn as President Yudhoyono to give global policy address on future of Indonesia’s forests
Press Release 13/06/12
From: Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Forest
[Tripa – Aceh Province – Indonesia] A field team from the Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Swamp Forest visit in Indonesia’s Tripa Peat Forest has unearthed alarming evidence of fires continuing to be lit and burn in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest despite assurances from the Indonesian central government that ‘triple track’ legal action was underway and a small area of the Peat Forest had returned to the moratorium map central to the multibillion agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emission from burning the carbon dense Peat Forests.
Satellite information led the focus of the team to the eastern region in the 60,000 hectare Tripa Peat Forest, where fire hotspot alerts had recorded another increase in burning activity. Upon entering the area the ground team discovered fresh burns scars, and smouldering ashes from recently lit fires, and new fires being lit around 6.30pm yesterday evening.
“This is blatantly breaching Indonesian law” Said Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “Despite the joint Investigation currently taking place by the Ministry of Environment and the National Police, in areas right across Tripa, and indeed Indonesia, the National Laws continue to be flaunted.
“While a small area of Tripa has been returned to the moratorium map, there are 5 palm oil concessions in Tripa operating illegally inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem, yet only 2 of them are being investigated, and even in these destruction continues on the ground with drainage canals still drying the peat swamp.” Dedy Raith, Forest Campaigner for WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia explained, “The Ministry of Environment and National Police team needs to increase the scope to of the investigation to include all concessions and the full 60,000 hectares of Tripa.“
“The full path of the destruction of Tripa must be followed, to identify the responsible parties who allowed this to happen, and full legal prosections carried out. This is a very simple case. In August 2011 a permit was issued by the hand of former Aceh Governor Irwandi to palm oil company PT Kalista Alam to convert 1,605 hectares of protected peat forest into palm oil. The issuing of this permit very clearly breaches National Spatial planning law 26/2007, leaving both mentioned parties criminally liable. From the outset, the violation was clear for all to see. Pak Kuntoro has already labelled the concession illegal, return this small aspect of Tripa to REDD Moritorium map and demanded PT Kalista Alam restore any forest it has already damaged”. Explained Kamaruddin, the Acehnese Lawyer representing the community of Tripa.
“Sudariyono, the Indonesian Environmental Ministry’s head of law enforcement unit, recently said “We will investigate if the company have properly conducted an Amdal [environmental impact analysis] or has other environmental permits,”
“Yet, this investigation must include all companies operating inside the Tripa Peat Forests, protected by National Spatial Planning Law 26/2007. All companies in Tripa must be reviewed because each operation has indicated a degree of legal violation, which again is highlighted again by the fires burning today. To review all Amdal processes is simple and standard legal procedure, believe should result in prosecution of all parties responsible for violation of Indonesia law.” Kamaruddin concluded.
“Tripa is an important part of the the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the worlds most important conservation areas, home to Sumatran Orangutans, Rhinos, Elephants, Tigers and a whole host of other wildlife, there should be no permits and no destruction of this iconic and globally important area, it’s very clearly against Indonesian Law, it is protected by National Strategic Planning Law 26/2007, and Government Regulation 26/2008. Moratoriums may come and go, but it is National Spatial Planning that must be adhered to for the forests of Indonesia to have any chance of survival“ concluded Dr Singleton.
For further media comment or interview, please contact:
Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation / Sumatran Orangutan Conservation programme
Deddy Ratih, Forest Campaigner, WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia
- Tripa continues to burn as President Yudhoyono to give global policy address on future of Indonesia’s forests (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
“We are in coordination with the Coordination Agency of National Survey and Mapping, National Land Agency and Ministry of Agriculture in the compilation of this revision. We collected issued permits and licenses before the Presidential Instruction was published,” said Bambang Soepijanto, Director of Urban Design of the Ministry of Forestry on Saturday (19/5) in Jakarta.
The areas in the moratorium maps changes in numbers. When all data are collected and mapped, Bambang continued, the areas of primary natural and peat forest, on which no existing permit, will be identified.
Separately, the Head of the Moratorium Monitoring Working Group of the Task Force REDD+, Tjokorda Nirarta Samadhi, said that the map has initially only used data from the Ministry of Forestry. In November 2011, through the inclusion of data from other agencies, the first revision of the moratorium map was established.
According to Nirarta, each point of changes within the second revision would be marked with description on how it has changed. “So it will be traceable, why it has changed and based on what, e.g. permit of what number for the particular area,” he said.
Condition of Peatlands
The second revision would include data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The second revision would reduce the amount of peatlands of 49,000 ha based on various land use scheme. Ground verification identified an increase on the amount of protected/conservation areas of 500,000 ha.
Nirarta requested the public for not to stick on numbers, since the numbers can change based on the synchronisation and on cross checking between ministries.
“Don’t just look at the numbers but at the process of the compilation of the numbers. Through this moratorium map, each ministry is connected and communicate to each other even by heavy argument and hard discussion. I expect that here there is a standard procedure for the issuance of permits,” he said.
- The Case of Tripa Peat Swamp: Entry Point To Revision Of Moratorium Map | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Ministry of Foresty Sent Letter To Aceh Governor Re Tripa Peat Swamp | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Next Week, Hearing of Witnesses | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Forests remain under threat from acquisitive industries | The Jakarta Post (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Suspect In The Case of Tripa Peat Swamp Subject to Criminal and Civil Lawsuit | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
Several protected areas across the archipelago remain under threat of deforestation apparently due to the ineffective moratorium program launched by the government last year, environmental groups say.
The environmental groups have witnessed continuing forest destruction by several companies despite the moratorium.
They estimate that 4.9 million hectares of primary forests and peatland, out of a total 71.01 million hectares covered by the moratorium, will be lost to palm-oil industries, coal mines and other forest conversions by the end of this month.
“The data shows that the forests and peatland are still at risk,” said Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia’s political campaigner.
The three largest protected areas are located in Kalimantan, with 1.9 million hectares; followed by Papua, with 1.7 million hectares; and Sumatra, with 775,371 hectares.
In Central Kalimantan, the regions worst affected by the industries are Pulang Pisau and South Lamandau. Meanwhile, the most endangered areas in Riau are Pulau Padang, Kerumutan, Kampar peninsula and Senepis forest. They are all known for their extensive peatland coverage.
In its efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), the Indonesian government issued a presidential decree in May 2011, ordering a two-year suspension on new concession permits on primary forests and peatland.
At the time, the government said it would review the moratorium every six months. In November 2011, it published a revision, in which some areas were removed from the moratorium map, including the Tripa peat swamp in Aceh. The total area covered in the revision was 65.37 million hectares.
Forestry Ministry spokesman Sumarto Suharno told The Jakarta Post last month that one of the reasons behind Tripa’s removal was data from the National Land Agency (BPN) that indicated that those areas were suitable for commercial development.
The environmental groups have accused the government of turning a blind eye to ongoing deforestation by companies that were granted concessions before the decree was issued.
The environmental activists stated that those companies were “the ones that are continuing to destroy the environment”.
“It seems like the government condones these practices,” Muslim Rasyid, from the Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari), said.
Muslim added that palm-oil industries had also encroached further into the biosphere reserve in Bukit Kecil, Riau, adding that the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) knew exactly what was going on there, but had yet to offer any concrete solution.
Yuyun said that he and his fellow activists appreciated that several government agencies had sent investigative teams into the threatened areas.
However, he added that for the agencies, violations of environmental laws were unimportant.
“They issued recommendations, but what we really want them to do is to take stern measures to curb the ongoing deforestation. For the moment, they must stop the industries’ operations and review their permits,” he added.
The coalition concluded that by the end of this month, when the government is due to publish another moratorium revision, nothing much would have been achieved. (tas)
- Walhi, REDD task force fight forest clearing – The Jakarta Post (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Press release: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono being petitioned from around the world to uphold Indonesian Laws (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Faint ray of hope for Orangutans – Canberra Times (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Indonesia to investigate contested oil palm concession as governor loses election in Sumatra (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Researchers warn delays thwart efforts to save Indonesia’s environment (eco-business.com)
- SBY Aide Vows to Probe Aceh Forest Concession (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Oil palm surging source of greenhouse gas emissions (yubanet.com)
- SOCP Tripa Battle Call (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Governor of Aceh who signed palm oil permit: plantation in Tripa “morally wrong” (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Australian REDD Fail in Indonesia’s Kalimantan forests (radioaustralia.net.au)