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EarthDay to #SaveAceh

Hadiri dialog publik bertema EarthDay to #SaveAceh, diselenggarakan oleh change.org, Public Virtue,  Humanitarian Forum Indonesia bersama endoftheicons

Hadiri dialog publik bertema EarthDay to #SaveAceh, diselenggarakan oleh change.org, Public Virtue, Humanitarian Forum Indonesia bersama endoftheicons

This is a public event and invitation open to everyone

please find media invite below

 Media Invitation – Diskusi Publik Selamatkan Hutan Aceh

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Press Release : CANADIAN MINING COMPANY ANNOUNCES INVOLVEMENT IN ACEH GOVERNMENT PLANS

PRESS RELEASE 

18/04/2013

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CANADIAN MINING COMPANY ANNOUNCES INVOLVEMENT IN ACEH GOVERNMENT PLAN TO CLEAR OVER 1.2 MILLION HECTARES OF SUMATRA’S PROTECTED FORESTS AND RELATIONSHIP WITH FORMER INDONESIAN MINISTER NAMED AS CORRUPTION SUSPECT

East Asia Minerals admits key role in ‘illegal process’ and claims “good progress” in attempt to ‘reclassify’ over 1 million hectares of ‘protected forests.’ The mining company also claims to have hired Dr. Fadel Muhammad, a former senior Indonesian government official facing corruption charges, “to help them with these efforts.”

Aceh has world-renowned biodiversity, including critically endangered orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers. This change would also undermine its incalculable value as a major carbon sink.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia –  A Canadian mining company announced Tuesday that it expects the governor of Sumatra’s Aceh province to allow it and other extractive industries to destroy 1.2 million hectares of valuable and currently protected rainforest.

The company, East Asian Minerals, claims in a press release to be working closely with government officials and to have staff in Aceh lobbying to reclassify large tracts of the province from “protected forest” to “production forest.”  The company’s website also states that it has hired a senior government official, former Golkar Deputy Chairman Fadel Muhammad “to help them with these efforts.”

Fadel, former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and former Governor of Gorontalo Province, in addition to being the former Deputy Chairman of Indonesia’s’ Golkar Party, was re-named as a corruption suspect by the Attorney General’s office last week after several previous investigations over recent years. He is accused of misusing Rp 5.4 billion (US$ 567,000) from the 2001 provincial budget during his tenure as Gorontalo’s governor. Edward Rochette, the Canadian mining company’s CEO, said, “In his advisory role, Bapak Dr. Fadel will provide invaluable assistance to enable the projects in Indonesia to move forward in a timely and sustainable manner.” He appears either unaware or unconcerned regarding the charges facing Dr. Fadel.

“This spatial plan is being developed via a highly ‘unhealthy’ process, in which foreign corporations are intervening and driving local policy”. said Dedi Ratih, Spatial Planning Campaigner for WALHI  Indonesia (Friends of The Earth Indonesia) “Reclassification of these forests is clearly not in the best interests of Aceh’s local communities, but instead in the interests of massive natural resources exploitation. This plan should be rejected immediately”

Opening these areas to mining, logging, and palm oil production would have disastrous consequences for the people of Aceh and huge areas of rainforest habitat of global importance for its exceptional biodiversity. These forests are home to critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants.

“This world renowned protected area -the Leuser Ecosystem – is the only place on earth where orangutans, rhinos, tigers and elephants are found side by side and the least real hope for the survival of viable populations of each of them. Not to mention the myriad of other threatened species residing there” said Dr Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “If these plans proceed, their future is in immediate jeopardy.”

According to the statement from East Asia Minerals, Tgk. Anwar, chairman of the Aceh Provincial Government’s Spatial Planning Committee, “Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry has accepted ‘almost 100 percent’ of the province’s new spatial plan, which would zone large blocks of previously protected forest for mineral extraction, timber concessions and oil palm plantations.” He goes on to admit that “Aceh has the most forest cover of any province in Sumatra, but has lost more than a third of its forests in the past 20 years.”

East Asia Minerals has already been drilling and mining at its Miwah mine in Aceh, one of its three operations in the province. The company noted that the reclassification “will allow it to fully exploit the area’s mining potential and expand exploratory drilling – pushing into areas that are currently protected.”

It also explained how it is “working closely with Government officials in the country and has representatives on the ground in Aceh to obtain reclassification of the forestry zone from from “protected forest” to a “production forest”.” The company states on its website that it plans to expand its excavations in all directions from the Moon River, which flows near to the Miwah site.

Land Already Viewed as “Too Dangerous for Logging”

Areas of the forest that have previously been identified as too high or too steep to be converted for palm oil – or having inappropriate soil to grow oil palms – have already been identified for protection under existing planning laws. These same areas are likewise completely inappropriate for other extractive uses, including logging and mining.

Illegal logging and mining is already taking place in these concessions – with terrible consequences for both the forest and the incredible biodiversity it supports. As East Asia Minerals itself acknowledges, Aceh has already lost more than a third of its forests in the past two decades alone. The new plan would also approve an extensive new network of roads, which would open up the area to yet more forest destruction and encroachment leading to catastrophic consequences for communities and agriculture downstream. The region is already prone to natural disasters that cause hundreds of deaths and huge economic losses each year.

“This is a dangerous move,” said Graham Usher, a landscape protection specialist who worked on a major review of Aceh’s forestry sector for the previous Governor. “Aceh’s people have experienced countless devastating landslides already in the past that were caused by exactly this kind of forest clearing and disregard for planning laws. This will result in yet more lives lost in coming years and immeasurable losses to local economies.”

Usher added “the East Asia Minerals press release is one of the strangest that I have ever seen. It essentially suggests that they and other extractive companies are effectively driving public policy, namely spatial planning, in Aceh. Not only is this a shocking admission of flawed governance, but the company even seems proud of it! Spatial planning should be based on sound scientific analysis of land suitability and environmental risks: not the profit margins of foreign companies!”

Singleton noted the plan would result in the highly publicised Tripa peat swamp forest losing its protected status and the loss of their potentially extremely valuable carbon stocks, that could be traded in international markets. Peat swamps capture and store carbon at higher rates than other forests, and are particularly valuable in mitigating the effects of climate change. “Aceh would be far better off in the future if instead of trashing the resources it has left to the benefit of the highest bidder, it worked towards a more sustainable economy,” he concluded.

*  *  *

Note to editors:

For further comment:

Dr Ian Singleton

e: mokko123@gmail.com

m: +62 811 65 0491

Conservation Director

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program

Graham Usher

e: kimabajo1@gmail.com

m: +62 877 6639 4260

Landscape Protection Specialist

Dedi Ratih

e: ube.hitar@gmail.com

m:+62 812 5080 7757

Spatial Planning Campaigner

Walhi National (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)

Tgk. Anwar

m: +62 8116 80708

Head of Spatial Planning Committee

Aceh Parliament (DPRA)

Further sources:

Miwah gold project closer to reclassification in Aceh, Indonesia

http://www.eaminerals.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=581007&_Type=News-Releases&_Title=Miwah-gold-project-closer-to-reclassification-in-Aceh-Indonesia

East Asia Minerals Enters Into Strategic Advisor Agreement With Dr. Fadel Muhammad

http://www.eaminerals.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=548626&_Type=News-Releases&_Title=East-Asia-Minerals-Enters-Into-Strategic-Advisor-Agreement-With-Dr.-Fadel-M

Fadel continues with candidacy despite corruption case

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/04/10/fadel-continues-with-candidacy-despite-corruption-case.html

PRESS RELEASE: Aceh plans to clear 1.2 million hectares of protected forest trigger alarm over increase in landslides, floods and other natural disasters.

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Aceh plans to clear 1.2 million hectares of protected forest trigger alarm over increase in landslides, floods and other natural disasters.

13/03/13

[JAKARTA] An alarming admission from the chairman of the Aceh Government’s Spatial Planning Committee is fuelling serious concern over the potential illegal loss of 1.2 million hectares of Aceh’s protected forests, as was explained in detail at a press conference today in Jakarta.

Tgk. Anwar, today, in the Aceh Post, stated that the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry has accepted ‘almost 100%’ of the Aceh Government’s new spatial plan proposal. Earlier, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that Aceh was preparing to reduce its protected forest area from 68% to 45%, meaning the loss of 1.2 million hectares.

“The proposed changes have been wholly rejected by Aceh’s community and environmental non-governmental organisations,” explained Efendi, spokesperson for the Coalition of people Concerned for Aceh’s Forests (KPHA), “Despite our best efforts, communities and NGO’s have been completely excluded from the development process of the new spatial plan, which has totally lacked transparency and accountability.  One week ago a coalition of 18 local and International NGO’s sent a letter to the Ministry of Forestry calling on him to reject the proposed downgrading of the protected status of several wildlife reserves, protected forests, and hunting parks, to “other land use”, which we naturally suspect is closely linked to planned expansion of palm oil plantations and mining. There is an inevitable belief that the proposal is simply to legalize illegal activities already taking place as several mining and palm oil concessions overlap the areas scheduled for downgrading. The plan also includes creating a new transmigration site within the UNESCO Sumatra Tropical Rainforest World Heritage Site. Furthermore, the new plan makes absolutely no mention of the legally and nationally protected Leuser Ecosystem, a National Strategic Area for its environmental function, and the abolishment of the Ulu Masen’s designation as a Provincial Strategic Area.”

The plan to transform huge areas of Aceh forest into mining and palm oil plantations has also been promoted by academic adviser to the Aceh government, Dr Irfan, who declared that under the new plan ”there are more areas given for the community”. Yet on further examination, the area to be allocated to community is only slightly over 1% of the planned new opening of forest (14,704 hectares), whilst by far the largest allocations go to mining (slightly less than 1,000,000 hectares) logging concessions (416,086 hectares), and palm oil concessions  (256,250 hectares). The latter also includes plans to remove the protected status of the entire Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, an area that has received massive international attention due to illegal activities by palm oil companies destroying a global priority habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, which are  still subject to ongoing Ministry of Environment and National Police legal action. In addition to these proposed new  large-scale exploitive industrial developments, the new spatial plan also gives approval for an extensive new road network that will cut through currently protected forests, further disrupting wildlife and watersheds in the region and opening up even more forests for exploitation, both legal and illegal. Famously once known as the ‘Ladia Galaska’ road network, or the ‘Spider Web’, for its appearance, the plan is once again being resurrected, despite being rejected in the past by popular demand due to the severe environmental damage it would bring.

“Areas that had previously been identified as being too high or too steep for conversion, or as having inappropriate soil types and heavy rainfall, so that under existing Indonesian regulations they should be Protected Forests (Hutan Lindung), have now been identified as targets for logging concessions, roads, mining concessions and palm oil plantations, ” explained Graham Usher, a landscape protection specialist who has worked in Indonesia for almost 30 years and was previously involved in the Tipereska forest data review and mapping process for Aceh under the previous Governor. “Opening up such forests is an extremely dangerous move.  Aceh’s people know very well that removal of forests on such steep and unstable soils results in devastating landslides and floods during the heavy rains that Aceh receives every year. Taking three case studies, we can easily map and predict serious long term threats to communities from reduced food security, soil impacts, landslides and flooding. The plan to clear these forests is a serious mistake that will result in the loss of yet more innocent lives and huge economic losses for the province.”

Dr Ian Singleton, of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program added his concern, “Despite the ongoing legal action against palm oil companies brought by NGOs, the Ministry of the Environment and the National Police, it is now being proposed that Tripa lose its currently protected status altogether, and for this unique peat swamp ecosystem and all its biodiversity and potentially hugely valuable carbon stock to be handed over to the palm oil companies for final, total obliteration. And now its not just Tripa and orangutans either. The new spatial plan does not even acknowledge the existence of the world renowned Leuser Ecosystem protected area or the fact that the forests they intend to “unprotect” are the last main hope for the long-term survival of iconic Sumatran endemic species such as the sumatran tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. The future of each of these species, and countless others, will be placed in immediate jeopardy if the plans are allowed to proceed. The Leuser Ecosystem is protected by National Spatial Planning law as a National Strategic Area for it’s Environmental Function. Ignoring the Leuser Ecosystem and these species’ habitat is absurd, and must surely be rejected by the Ministry of Forestry, who had given such praise to the previous Spatial Plan for Aceh, that in contrast to the new one was based on sound scientific and community impact studies. Its ironic that Aceh’s forests have received tens of millions of dollars from donor countries over recent decades for their protection, including major funds from the Multi Donor Fund after the 2004 tsunami, and yet after all that the Provincial Government now plans to trash them for roads, new mines, timber and oil palm concessions.”

Legal scrutiny of the new Aceh Spatial Plan and the process of its promotion to date also indicates that shortcuts have been made and people are being misled, such that it is highly likely that a number of national laws have been breached. If found to be true, this would put Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah and others within his government at risk of legal repercussions. The local community of Aceh Tamiang have in fact already expressed their alarm and issued a legal warning letter, or ‘somasi’, threatening legal action if the plans are allowed to go ahead. This illustrates very clearly that the new plan does not have the support of Aceh’s people.

2013 Future for Nature Award winner, Rudi Putra, the first Indonesian citizen to win this major international award in it’s 30-year history, has been working with the community of Aceh Tamiang and the local police on law enforcement activities to seize and destroy oil palms illegally planted in the protected Leuser Ecosystem. “In the last 3 years we’ve shut down 24 illegal palm oil plantations, and cut down the  illegal palms themselves and restore and regenerate the natural forest, to restore the natural function of the forest to protect the communities, with great success. The community understand very well from previous devastating flash floods in the area, most notably in 2006, that clearing the forests upstream has a direct impact on the river flow and their own safety downstream. The people of Aceh are no fools, we know that when these unstable areas are cut, it directly leads to increasing natural disasters. If even the villagers know this why do the Aceh Government’s advisors not comprehend this simple connection. To protect the communities of Aceh, their safety and their livelihoods, we must protect the forests of Aceh and keep watersheds intact. It is not difficult to understand.” He reiterated.

“Aceh’s forests and the Leuser Ecosystem are the only place in the world where we have Sumatran rhinos, tigers, elephants and orangutans all living in the same area. Next week there is a major international conference on Asian Tropical Biodiversity taking place in Banda Aceh too, with hundreds of international and national scientists attending. How can this be happening at the same time that our provincial government is planning to wipe out our rich and unique biodiversity with this new spatial plan. It simply MUST be rejected immediately for the benefit of all of us.” he added.

 

For further question or comment:

Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation, PanEco Foundation/Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. Tel: +62-811-650491, Email mokko123@gmail.com.

Graham Usher, Lanscape Protection Specialist

Tel: +62-877-66394260, Email kimabajo1@gmail.com

Rudy Putra, 2013 Future for Nature Award Winner

Tel: +62-812-6435929, Email: rhinoleuser@gmail.com

Effendi Isma, KPHA Spokeperson

Tel: +62-813-60160055, Email: elang030108@gmail.com

 

Note to editors:

To download both presentation materian and hi-res images please use this link:   https://www.dropbox.com/sm/create/Press%20Conference%20Jakarta%20March%2013%202013

 

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

PRESS RELEASE

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 – ube.hitar@gmail.com

Spatial Planning Campaigner, Walhi Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)

Yuyun Indradiyuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org

Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia

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.

Press Release – 27/11/2012 – For International Distribution

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.

[Meulaboh] Today the Court of Meulaboh, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, held its first hearing of a civil case brought by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Attorney General’s Office vs the palm oil company, PT Kallista Alam, for crimes conducted in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.

The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment was represented by prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Indonesia. PT Kallista Alam, on the other hand, did not appear, causing the trial to be postponed since the judges were unable to address both parties.

One of the prosecution team, Lawyer Ryan Palasi, expressed disappointment over the company’s absence, “it suggests the defendant is not taking the proceedings seriously and not committed to settling the case,” he said after the hearing.

Conservation Director for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme said “We very much welcome this landmark action by the Ministry of Environment and will be monitoring the case closely, There continues to be a huge amount of international interest in the events in Tripa, building the momentum for multiple investigations and  this case to proceed. Earlier this year, the Administrational Court of Medan found that at least one concession owned by PT Kallista Alam in Tripa was illegal, resulting in Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah immediately showing strong leadership towards conservation by revoking the highly controversial permit. Tripa is indeed a high profile case  with considerable international interest in how the Indonesian Government’s current prosecutions progress” he added.

Chairman of Friends of the Earth Indonesia’s Aceh office (WALHI Aceh), TM Zulfikar, concurred, “Walhi Aceh applauds the determination shown by the Ministry of Environment in bringing this case to the law court in Meulaboh. We hope this case will help strengthen land use planning and illustrate consistency in natural resource management within the province. Improved governance and accountability of law breakers is urgently needed to ensure Aceh’s natural resources can be managed more sustainably in future for the numerous benefits they provide for Aceh’s people.  We would advice business operating in Aceh to disengage with environmentally destructive activities, much of the destruction of the Tripa ecosystem has be done illegally, and now its time to redress the balance and bring those responsible to account.”

continues

The Tripa Peat Swamp Forest comprises 61,000 hectares, within the larger 2.6 million hectare protected Leuser Ecosystem; one of South East Asia’s most important biodiversity hotspots and the only place on earth where the Sumatran Tiger, Rhino, Elephant and Orangutan can all be found living side by side.

The start of legal proceedings in this case coincides with a visit to Indonesia by the Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon Magnus, and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who according to press reports are interested in discussing environmental issues with President SBY whilst they are here. The Scandinavian country pledged a $1 billion assistance package to help protect Indonesian forests in 2010, on the condition that there is a verifiable reduction in deforestation and deforestation in Indonesia. Before the current wave of destruction by oil palm companies began in Tripa, these swamps provided abundant fresh clean water for local communities, and even today is a carbon store of global importance in the battle against climate change.  In fact, large tracts of Tripa are also off limits to new plantation developments under a moratorium on new plantations in primary forests and peat swamps established by President SBY as part of the Government’s commitment under its 1 billion dollar agreement with Norway.

“Satellite imagery and community reports identify at least three companies operating in Tripa that have clearly breached the moratorium and other government legislation. These include concessions claimed by PT Kallista Alam, PT Surya Panen Subur 2 and PT Dua Perkasa Lestari,” said Deddy Ratih, Spatial Planning Advocacy Manager for WAHLI Indonesia. “We would like to invite Crown Prince Magnus and Indonesian President SBY to visit Tripa so they can see first hand the continuing deforestation, including those areas clearly off limits under the agreement between the two countries, to alert them to the realities on the ground and the fact that forest clearance and drainage of the peatlands is still continuing despite the legal processes now ongoing. All the palm oil companies in Tripa need to be reviewed to ensure they abide by the permits, and if the permits do not follow the law, they should be immediately revoked, the law of Indonesia needs to be followed”  he added.

These sentiments were echoed by a local community member who wished to remain anonymous, due to fears of retribution from the companies concerned.  “We are happy to see the Government’s efforts to help us save and restore Tripa, but are also concerned as the destruction of Tripa is still continuing on the ground, even today. These companies keep setting new fires to clear the forest, new canals are still being dug to drain the swamps, and the area is still dying as a result. Even though this case has now been brought to court something urgently needs to be done to stop activities on the ground immediately, or we will still lose Tripa forever,” he continued.

“Perhaps the biggest crime”, concluded an impassioned Dr Singleton, “is that despite all the

continues

investigations, the court proceedings, and some successes so far, we may well end up with justice in the courts, but still lose the unique Tripa peat swamp forest ecosystem and its globally important Sumatran Orangutan population. Time is running out, and stopping illegal activities in the field and closing the drainage canals in Tripa has to be the number one priority. For the companies representatives to not even appear before the court when summoned today shows an all time low to the respect to courts, law and Government of Indonesia by the palm oil companies who operate in Tripa, they really must just believe the rules do not apply”.

The next hearing in this high profile environmental case is scheduled to be held in the district court of Meulaboh, Aceh Province, on 12th December.

ENDS

For further comment please contact:

Dr. Ian Singleton

Director of Conservation, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program

Email: mokko123@gmail.com

Deddy Ratih

Spatial Planning Advocacy Manager, WALHI (Friends of the Earth) Indonesia

Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com

Yuyun Indradi

Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia

Email: yuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org

PRESS RELEASE: LARGE MALE ORANGUTAN RESCUED FROM THREATENED TRIPA PEAT SWAMP FORESTS, ACEH, INDONESIA

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

A large male orangutan rescued from shrinking habitat through palm oil plantation. Palm oil expansion has pushed this iconic wildlife to the brink of extinction.
“The process of rehabilitating an Orangutan is dangerous and costly, we cant keep taking these orangutan out and rehabilitate them. It’s not the orangutans that should be leaving this area, it is the palm oil companies who are breaking the law” – Dr. Ian Singleton

 

Medan, October 15, 2012

A large, fully adult male Sumatran Orangutan weighing around 90 kg was rescued yesterday (14/10/12) from an isolated forest fragment in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forests in the Nagan Raya District of Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, as illegal destruction of this unique ecosystem by rogue palm oil companies continues.

Thanks to the cooperation of a team of experts from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Department of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), the orangutan, later named Seuneam after the nearest village to where he was found, was evacuated safely and later released early on Monday morning (15/10/12) at the SOCP’s specialist Orangutan Reintroduction Centre in the Jantho Pine Nature Reserve in northern Aceh. Seuneam had been monitored in the field by SOCP staff for several days and had to be rescued as he was trapped in a small fragment of forest surrounded by palm oil plantations, isolated from the rest of the Tripa swamp forests and the rest of Tripa’s surviving orangutan population, estimated today to be only around 200 individuals, and declining fast. Local informants even stated that there was a plan to poison him very soon if he continued to destroy young palm oil seedlings.

The team in the field comprised SOCP veterinarians, staff of BKSDA Aceh (the Government’s provincial Conservation Agency), staff of the Indonesian Sustainable Ecosystem Foundation (Yayasan Ekosistem lestari, or YEL) and local community members.

Head of BKSDA Aceh, Mr Amon Zamora MSc, stated on Sunday evening “BKSDA Aceh strongly supports this orangutan rescue and I hope that other orangutans facing similar threats in Tripa can also be rescued before they are killed, or die of malnutrition. Evacuation efforts like this are essential to our efforts to save the Sumatran orangutan and reduce conflicts with local communities. It’s a sad fact that orangutans are often regarded as pests by people and plantation companies, as when they have no other food to eat they can and do eat and damage agricultural crops.

Meanwhile, head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, Dr Ian Singleton stated “We are always happy to see a successful rescue take place, but these activities are expensive, logistically challenging and also dangerous, for both staff and the orangutans themselves. There is always a serious risk of injury to the animals during capture, especially when they fall from the trees after being anaesthetized.  We would much prefer not to have to intervene in this way and in reality we should not be having to rescue orangutans from Tripa, as it is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, now a protected area under National Spatial Planning laws. In fact, several of the palm oil companies operating in Tripa are already under investigation for breaking Indonesian Law and one plantation has even be cancelled. But regrettably, forest clearance, drainage of the peatlands and burning of the land continue unabated, so we have no choice but to rescue orangutans when they will clearly die if we don’t”.

“Both locally, and Globally, people were inspired recently by the strong leadership of new Aceh Governor, Dr Zaini Abdullah, when the Aceh Government revoked an illegal oil palm plantation permit granted to PT Kalista Alam. But despite this, it is still clear to see that rogue palm oil companies are continuing to destroy Tripa’s remaining forests, creating more conflicts between human and orangutan, and other wildlife.” Dr Singleton added.   


Drh Yenny Saraswati reiterated during a quiet moment after Seuneam’s eventual return to the wild. “Rescues like this are not something we enjoy. There are serious risks of injury and even death to an orangutan like this during capture, however good modern equipment and drugs are these days. No matter what you do, orangutans climb higher when afraid, and then fall all the way to the ground. We have had several break bones in the past as a result of falls, even though we always try to get a capture net underneath them beforehand. As a veterinarian, its not pleasant to have to take such risks with an animal’s welfare”.

The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP; www.sumatranorangutan.org) is a collaborative programme involving the Swiss based PanEco Foundation (www.paneco.ch), Indonesia’s Yayasan Ecosystem Lestari (www.yelweb.org) and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (DitJen PHKA; www.dephut.go.id)

Main activities of the SOCP include:-

1.     Confiscation, quarantine, and reintroduction to the wild of illegal pet Sumatran orangutans
2.     Research and monitoring of remaining wild Sumatran orangutan populations
3.     Habitat protection and conservation
4.     Conservation education and awareness raising

To date the SOCP as returned to the wild more than 180 illegal captive orangutans and rescued a number of orangutans in similar situations to Seuneam.

For further information contact:-

1.     Mr Amon Zamora, MSc, Kepala BKSDA Aceh,
Tel: +6282169313999, Email: amonzamora@gmail.com

2.     Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation PanEco Foundation / Head of SOCP,
Tel: +62811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com

Ian Singleton, Ph.D Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, PanEco-YEL Jl. K.H. Wahid Hasyim No 51/74 Medan Baru Medan 20154 North Sumatra Indonesia Tel: +62-61-4514360 Fax: +62-61-4514749 Mobile: +62-811-650491 Email: mokko123@gmail.com
Skypename: Mokko123 Website: www.sumatranorangutan.org Website: www.paneco.ch
Blog: IanSingletonSOCP.wordpress.com/

Historic Cancellation of Oil Palm Permit Opens Door for Prosecution of Companies Crimes

 

03 October 2012

INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Swamp Forest

“Historic Cancellation of Oil Palm Permit Opens Door for Prosecution of Companies Crimes

Latest Satellite Image shows company still burning protected peatlands”

JAKARTA – Less than one week after history was made as the Aceh Government revoked the first industrial palm oil permit from the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, a coalition of NGO’s known as ‘Save Tripa Peat Forest’ highlighted today in a press briefing additional clear breaches of Indonesia’s multi million dollar forest protection agreement with Norway, only kilometers from the first location, and demanded National Police increase their activities to quickly bring these crimes to trial.

Deddy Ratih, Forest Campaigner for Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) explained “This continues to be a the leading test case for a National problem. While the revocation of PT Kallista Alam is a step in the right direction, there is still much more action required by police and Government to resolve the problems in Tripa. The Ministry of Environment continues to investigate a raft of the envrionmental crimes in Tripa with no end in sight, meanwhile, the legal testomonies of local communities to the National Police continue to be ignored”

Kamarrudin, the lawyer representing local people and the environment in the Tripa case, said, “There are strong indications that the enforcement of the law in the Tripa case has been “hijacked” by the financial power of corporations operating in the Tripa peat swamps. This can be seen in the less than optimal work of the provincial and national police, and the investigators of the Ministry of the Environment. We request that the National Police Chief and the Ministry of the Environment immediately evaluate the investigative processes to date, and move forward with a thorough investigation of the criminal crimes against spatial planning, plantation and environmental laws and regulations in the Tripa peat swamps. We hope that this case, that has drawn national and international attention, will not be frozen by those with vested interests in the law enforcement and government agencies. We also hold the Ministry of the Environment to its promise to launch criminal and administrative against companies that have committed serious environmental crimes in the Tripa peat swamps”.

In an impassioned address, Adnan NS, a prominent Community leader from Aceh stressed, “Despite the recent cancellation of the PT Kallista Alam permit, and ongoing investigations into violations of the law by this and other companies in Tripa, on the ground nothing has changed yet. Community livelihoods continue to be destroyed, even though local community leaders travelled all the way to Jakarta to report this to the national police back in November 2011. We are still waiting for action and demand to know why their testimonies have been ignored”.

“Over the last two months I’ve been on speaking tours of both the USA and Australia, and all around the world people are continually asking me about the situation in Tripa.” Said Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation Director of the Sumatran Conservation Programme. “International interest in the governance of Indonesia’s remaining forests and rapidly declining wild species populations is extremely high, and to them my message is clear – anyone with a computer can now check on forest clearance in Indonesia, measure and quantify it, and get daily updates on illegal fires, and circulate that information globally. As individuals we have never before had access to so much quantifiable information in other parts of the world or the ability to share it so widely and people around the world continue to be extremely alarmed and concerned about Tripa, as what they see is that so far nothing has yet changed. Unless the destruction is halted very very quickly, we are still likely to see the local extinction of Sumatran Orangutans from Tripa in the very near future.

“The forest concession known as Dua Perkasa Lestari (DPL) has been marked as off-limits in all three releases of the Government’s moratorium map, a tool designed to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation, but satellite imagery from last week clearly show that burning and illegal clearing of Tripa’s peat swamp forests is still taking place. Furthermore, the DPL area has no clear HGU permit, it clearly lies within the Leuser Ecosystem protected by National Spatial Planning law 26/2007, and it contains peat over 3m deep.   There are three companies that have been the major burning culprits, namely PT.SPS2, PT DPL and PT KA. We should pay greater attention to this because it is in violation of Law No. 32/2009 on the Environmental Protection and Management” explained Riswan Zen, a Senior GIS mapping expert from the Univeristy of North Sumatra.

“Over 25,000 people have already signed a petition calling for immediate action to halt the destruction of Tripa’s unique ecosystem, from within Tripa itself, from Aceh, from Indonesia, and from all over the world, contributing to the recent closure of the illegal PT Kallista Alam concession. Now we, together with the local community, are launching a new petition (at http://www.change.org/savetripa2) calling on Indonesia’s National Police to support the findings of the REDD+ Taskforce and the Ministry of Environment, and immediately escalate the cases under investigation to formal prosecutions. Much more still needs to be done to protect the remaining forests of Tripa, Aceh, and Indonesia as a whole. But the recent cancellation of the illegal PT Kallista Alam concession is an historic legal precedent for the country and it now needs to be followed up with the investigation and processing of all law breakers, and prosecution for their offences” Said Usman Hamid of Change.org Indonesia.

Its up to all of us to take action to protect the environment, and it can be as simple as signing a petition online, sharing it with your friends, tweeting and using social media to make our country a better place for all Indonesians,” said Melanie Subono. “I’m proud to have signed the petition to save Tripa and to see our laws finally being enforced. In fact, it is our duty as citizens to demand that our laws be upheld, especially those protecting the environment we all live in. Very soon I plan to visit Tripa and see the Orangutans, the forests, and the destruction still taking place with my own eyes. I’ll be going in close to 4 weeks time, and sincerely hope that before I get there, the National Police will have finally begun to take action on this globally important issue”

For further media comment or information, please contact:

Dr Ian Singleton

Director of Conservation, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program

mokko123@gmail.com

Deddy Raith

Forest Campaigner, WALHI Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)

ube.hitar@gmail.com

Yuyun Indradi

Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia

yuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org