Tag Archive | Aceh Forest

[Press Release] Aceh Forests facing numerous threats

21/05/2013 -Press Release For Immediate distribution

Aceh Forests facing numerous threats
“the threats to Aceh forest are not as black and white as one plan”

[BANDA ACEH] “The threats to Aceh forest are not as ‘black and white’ as just one plan.” Explained Rudi Putra, Avaaz petition starter, “Acehs forests are facing numerous threats; illegal permits to open forests are being issued before the spatial plan is even agreed, land status is being downgraded, illegal logging continues, roads are being pushed through protected areas and poaching of protected wildlife continues in the field. The Government continues to push its agenda without transparency or opportunities to discuss the combined impacts of all the threats. Instead it seems to be responding to criticisms one by one, as only minor issues, in an attempt to mask the combined large scale and long term impacts that will result.” He continued.

In this last week over 1.2 million signatures have been added to an international petition calling on Indonesian President SBY and Aceh Governor Zaini to “reject the plan to cut down protected rainforests in Aceh.” Indonesia’s majestic forests are a global treasure, and we encourage engagement with the local community to develop a plan that prioritises sustainable development, and protects this fragile ecosystem and the animals that live there.” (1)

The campaign to protect and restore Aceh’s threatened forests continues to gather international attention after Head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development, Monitoring & Oversight (UKP-PPP), Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, issued a press release questioning the source for the figures used in the debate. (2)

Rudi Putra added, “Pak Kuntoro is right. I agree that the information of the scale of the threat is drawn from a comparison of the former spatial plan from 2010, that aimed to protect 68% of Aceh’s land cover as forest, and the new plan currently being pushed, that will reduce this area to just 45%. Chairman of the Aceh Parliament’s Spatial Planning Committee made this statement in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year (3), and since that time, many media, NGO reports and even company websites have used the same figure.

“What we must focus on here though”, Putra continued, “is the problems already being caused by clearance of Aceh’s forests, and the threats posed by any further destruction and clearing of these forests, which will make things even worse. Even without cutting the forest, natural landslides and flash floods occur in Aceh on a regular basis, and when forests are cleared these disasters occur much more often and are much more severe. This is already impacting the community of Aceh, we should be working to reduce these threats, not to increase them.

“The Leuser Ecosystem is already protected by Law on Governing Aceh, law No 11/2006 and National Spatial Planning Law No 26/2007 and Government Regulation No 26/2008 as a ‘National Strategic Area for its Environmental Protection Function’, meaning that any development within the Leuser Ecosystem that damages its environmental protection function is illegal. Leuser acts as a life support for approximately four million people living around it by providing a steady supply of water, soil fertility, flood control, climate regulation and pest mitigation. The provincial spatial plan for Aceh must comply with existing National Laws protecting the Leuser Ecosystem, you can not simply ignore these laws to open up the forests for logging and mining. We are also extremely concerned about reports that roads are already being built, before any construction permits have even be granted”. Concluded Putra

Over the last few weeks major flooding has seriously impacted many districts of Aceh. Vice-Governor Muzakir Manaf, who visited the affected areas in Aceh Singkil on Thursday 16 May, told Aceh newspapers reporters that “the cause of the flooding is illegal logging and encroachment of forests” (4)

Graham Usher, a Landscape Protection Specialist who was involved in the environmental sensitivity analysis conducted in 2008 as part of the development of the previous Aceh Government’s forestry redesign process, welcomes Pak Kuntoro’s recommendation that a Strategic Environmental Assessment be carried out. “Both our environmental analysis, and a similar exercise carried out by the Asian Development Bank, estimated that between 63% and 68% of Aceh is very sensitive to disturbance, and that maintaining intact primary and restoring degraded forest cover was the best strategy for avoiding future environmental disasters. At the time, our recommendation was that the smart strategy was to expand forest cover, by restoring already degraded areas, ensuring both maintenance of environmental services and guaranteeing safe sources of timber for the future. But now, the key aspect of the new Aceh Government’s spatial plan is how much of these very sensitive areas are to be threatened with expansion of logging, road building, plantations and mining, even if they officially classified as forests. Aceh’s people know very well that any disturbance of forests in these areas results in devastating landslides, floods and complete changes to river systems. I think over 1 million people signed this petition because they share the concerns of Aceh’s people, and because they care about the fate of tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos, the incredible biodiversity of Aceh’s forests, and global climate change. If the current Aceh Government is, as it appears to be, determined on reactivating logging concessions in sensitive areas, pushing new roads through intact forests, and breaking up the Leuser Ecosystem, then people are quite right to express their concerns.”

The latest study from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Indonesia found that the local administration in Aceh is the worst performer when it comes to protecting the country’s remaining forests. (5)
…ends

References:
(1) http://avaaz.org/en/the_plan_to_kill_orangutans_loc/?slideshow
(2) http://www.ukp.go.id/siaran-pers/120-tidak-ada-usulan-konversi-hutan-12-juta-hektar-di-provinsi-aceh
(3http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/extinction-risk-as-aceh-opens-forests-for-logging-20130114-2cpmr.html
(4) http://aceh.tribunnews.com/m/index.php/2013/05/16/wagub-illegal-logging-penyebab-banjir
(5) http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/04/30/aceh-performs-worst-forestry-protection-undp.html

For further media comment:

Rudi Putra
+62 813 6088 2455
lestenleuser@gmail.com
Avaaz Petition starter

Graham Usher
+62 877 6639 4260
kimabajo1@gmail.com
Landscape Protection Specialist

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[RELEASE] Over 1 million support worldwide to save Aceh forest.

PRESS RELEASE – 18 May 2013

MORE THAN 1,000,000 INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT URGE PRESIDENT YUDHOYONO TO SAVE ACEH FOREST

Jakarta – Today, an astounding progress for the #SaveAceh campaign; over one million have backed a campaign launched by Indonesian conservationist Rudi Putra, urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene in the Aceh forest rezoning plan that would put orangutans, rhinos, tigers, elephants and other critically endangered wildlife at risk.

Rudi says “The forests of Aceh, home to endangered Sumatran orangutans and rhinos, are already being decimated by poachers and illegal loggers — but this plan would be truly catastrophic. Right now Aceh is already suffering from environmental disasters, floods are claiming lives and destroy properties along the west coast. The President and Governor need to intervene to stop the deadly landslides and flash floods that a mining and logging free-for-all would let loose on local communities.”

One key area falling under the proposed provincial spatial rezoning plan, is the National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection Function the Leuser Ecosystem, protected under Law 26/2007 and Government Regulation 26/2008, which is home to around 5,800 of the remaining 6000 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, according to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. The Aceh provincial plan seeks to ignore National Spatial planning law 26/2007 Government Regulation 26/2008, resulting in the Leuser Ecosystem losing it’s protected status, which would allow extractive activity such as logging, mining and road building to take place.

Ian Bassin, Campaign Director of Avaaz said: “President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a choice: to leave a strong legacy of protecting Indonesia’s natural resources or trash his green record by greenlighting this deal. More than 1 million people are urging him to stop the gold miners and loggers from raping Aceh’s forests and wiping out Indonesia’s most iconic wildlife.”

According to Co-Founder of Change.org Indonesia Usman Hamid, over a million signatures for Rudi’s petition in Avaaz.org shows tremendous solidarity from the international community to the #SaveAceh movement to urge the Aceh governor to cancel the destructive spatial planning law.

Canadian company gets heat from Canadians on Aceh deforestation
The rezoning plan, which according to Canada based East Asia Minerals press release, http://www.eaminerals.com/press-releases/229.pdf “would open more than a million hectares of forest in Aceh Province for mining logging and palm oil production” In the same release, the company claims to be working closely with the Government officials to obtain reclassification of ‘protected forest’ to ‘production forests’.

East Asia Minerals applauded the destructive plan for Aceh through a press release which created a strong backlash and a surge of thousands of signatures from Canada through Change.org petition http://www.change.org/SaveAceh showing that it is now a rising issue in Canada as well.

Laura Burden from Burnaby, BC, Canada says “I want my government to stop exploiting other countries and protect our fragile world instead.”

While Fred Oliff from Cambridge, Canada says “Canadian companies operating in foreign countries should be held to the same restrictions they would be in their own country.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Arief Aziz. +62811195962. arief@change.org


Arief Aziz
Communications Director
Change.org
arief@change.org | +62811.195.962

Sciencists urged to stand up for Aceh’s biodiversity

The Jakarta Post | Hotli Simanjuntak and Ruslan Sangaji,

Banda Aceh/Palu | Archipelago | Wed, March 20 2013, 10:47 AM

Paper Edition | Page: 5

Institutions affiliated with the Aceh Spatial Planning Alliance have urged scientists and conservationists to push the Aceh provincial administration to amend the spatial planning bylaw (RTRW), which they say is potentially damaging and could reduce the region’s forests, threatening its biodiversity.

Aceh is regarded as having the largest biodiversity in Asia Pacific, especially with the Leuser Ecosystem, which is currently a giant laboratory for scientists from across the globe.

The region is also where many wildlife species can be found, such as the rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, orangutan and elephant.

According to Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) director TM Zulfikar, the Aceh RTRW is loaded with the interests of particular individuals and sacrifices the environment and sustainability of local communities living in the conservation area.

“We reject the proposed Aceh RTRW. Many people wish to take advantage of natural resources in Aceh, such as the forest in Aceh Tamiang, which will be turned into other areas in the planned RTRW,” said Zulfikar.

In the planned Aceh RTRW, the government plans to convert around 1.2 million hectares of forests into a limited forest production zone by converting it into plantation and mining areas and other purposes.

In the draft, drawn up in 2009, Aceh’s forested areas reached 3.57 million hectares, or around 63 percent of the total land area of Aceh. Should the proposed RTRW be accepted by the central government, Aceh could lose up to 2.5 million hectares of its forested areas.

Ian Singleton, from the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Program, said the change in forest area allocation proposed in the draft RTRW had the potential to shrink major water resources, such as rivers, that irrigated rice fields in Pidie regency, as well as bringing the threat of flash floods and landslides.

Meanwhile, biodiversity experts from 25 Asia Pacific nations are gathering in Banda Aceh, Aceh, to attend a conference on tropical biodiversity protection sponsored by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). The meeting is aimed at promoting research as well as raising people’s awareness about the importance of tropical biodiversity and conservation.

The conference is being facilitated by the Aceh provincial administration through Syiah Kuala University, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the Strategic Resources Institute, under the theme, “Linking Biodiversity Science to Policy and Conservation Action”.

The conference is taking place from March 18 to 22 and will be followed with a trip to Ulu Masen forest, one of the forests in Aceh that has the biggest biodiversity in the province.

Aceh was chosen to hold the meeting because of its biodiversity reputation.

“There’s no other place in the world like Aceh, where species live in the same area. That’s why we chose Aceh to hold this meeting,” said ATBC secretary Antony J. Lynam.

“One of the biggest problems faced by tropical diversity is the defragmentation and loss of forests. There’s so many cases where deforestation has contributed to the depletion of species like the rhino, tiger and orangutan,” said Lynam.

Separately, Central Sulawesi is also facing deforestation and environmental degradation. The province lost 600,000 hectares of a total of 4.3 million hectares of forest areas in 2012.

Central Sulawesi Forestry Office head Nahardi said critical forests were found in 10 regencies, such as Donggala (147,504 hectares), Poso (118,893 hectares) and Parigi Moutong (99,997 hectares).

Nahardi added that 220,288.33 hectares of the total forested area in Central Sulawesi had experienced deforestation and degradation.

He said the office had initiated several strategies, such as a rehabilitation and conservation program, to reduce the area of critical forests across the province.