March 22, 2013
A group of biologists and conservation scientists meeting in Sumatra warned that potential changes to Aceh’s spatial plan could undermine some of the ecological services that underpin the Indonesian province’s economy and well-being of its citizens. After its meeting from March 18-22 in Banda Aceh, the Asia chapter of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) issued a declaration [PDF] highlighting the importance of the region’s tropical forest ecosystem, which is potentially at risk due to proposed changes to its spatial plan or system of land-use zoning.
Under the new spatial plan, more than 150,000 hectares of previously protected forest land would be given over for logging and conversion to plantations. Nearly a million hectares of mining exploration licenses would be granted.
One concern is that some concessions are located in steep watersheds that sustain lowland rice production. Another worry, highlighted by environmental groups, is that substantial blocks of surviving lowland habitats for orangutans would be put up for logging and oil palm plantations, putting the critically endangered species at increased risk. Aceh is one the only place on Earth where orangutans, rhinos, tigers, and elephants can be found living in the same forest.
The ATBC resolution notes some of these concerns. “Aceh forests are essential for food security, regulating water flows in both the monsoon and drought seasons to irrigate rice fields and other cash crops,” states the declaration. “Forest disruption in Aceh’s upland areas will increase the risk of destructive flooding for people living downstream in the coastal lowlands.”
ATBC says that the proposed spatial plan “will elevate the risk of serious local environmental problems, a loss of key nature hydrological functions, and serious disruption of lowland river systems and fisheries, which could negatively affect human livelihoods and biodiversity.” It adds that “further conversion of lowland forest will increase conflicts between people and surviving wild elephants, posing a significant threat to farming livelihoods.”
The group, which is the largest association of tropical conservation scientists, therefore recommended that Aceh’s spatial plan “be based on the extensive, high-quality spatial data that are available within the Government of Aceh agencies, especially maps on watershed forest areas, environmental risk, soil types, geological hazards, human population centers, rainfall and the distribution of Aceh’s wildlife.” It also called for action against illegal logging, forest conservation, and road construction.
ATBC-Asia urged the Aceh government to adopt an economic development model that “prioritizes clean development and payments for environmental services, while limiting unsustainable natural resource extraction.
Aceh has the most extensive forest cover of any province in Sumatra. It has had a moratorium on logging since 2007, although the new spatial plan would effectively end the logging ban.
- Sciencists urged to stand up for Aceh’s biodiversity (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 09:47 WIB | Free translation by Adji Darsoyo
* Regents Aceh Barat and Nagan Raya inaugurated
JEURAM – Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah requested to the newly inaugurated Regent and Vice-Regent of Nagan Raya to protect and preserve Leuser Ecosystem, especially the conservation of Tripa Peat Swamp in the Sub district of Darul Makmur, which is adjacent to Aceh Barat District.
This has been addressed by Aceh Governor after the ceremonial inaugurated Drs. HT Zulkarnaini and HM Jamin Idham, both as Regent and the Vice-Regent of Nagan Raya for the period of 2012 to 2017 during a Special Plenary Session of the District Parliament of Nagan Raya on Monday afternoon (08/10).
The next morning, Aceh Governor inaugurated HT Alaidinsyah and H Rachmat Fitri HD, both as Regent and Vice-Regent of Aceh Barat District for the period of 2012 to 2017. The ceremony was held during a Special Plenary Session of the District Parliament of Aceh Barat.
The Governor stated the importance and the relevance to the protection and preservation of Tripa Peat Swamp, since the Government of Aceh will evaluate all existing policies related to this protected peat swamp, so that there will be no more policy of the provincial government that leads to the destruction of this particular peat swamp ecosystem.
“Nagan Raya consists of forest area within Leuser Ecosystem. Therefore, we hope that the District Government of Nagan Raya supports the Government of Aceh in the protection of the particular ecosystem including Tripa Peat Swamp,” said Governor Zaini.
On the other hand, as a new-born district of 10 years old of age, the development of this regency is, based on the data on economic achievement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has been praised as relatively successful. This appraisal was based on various factors, among others the relatively well Regional Income.
But, Zaini reminded that this appraisal should not drive the District Government of Nagan Raya to be vainglorious, since from the potential point of view, the Regional Income still needs to be increased.
Moreover, the economic development is relatively unsatisfying, only around 3.9% annually. He hopes that in the coming several years, the economic development can be increased in line with the economic development of the province, which is approx.. 6.5%.
The Governor also reminded that Nagan Raya possesses various kinds of natural resources, such as marine and mining products, natural gas and other natural resources. “All this richness can surely be managed properly through involvement of investors,” said Zaini.
During the inauguration of the Regent and Vice-Regent of Aceh Barat District, Governor Zaini Abdullah requested both officials to build a good functioning team work in leading the district. “I need to remind this, since some regency leaders in Aceh broke their partnership after being elected,” said the Governor of Aceh.
According to the Governor, once the Regent and his Vice broke their partnership, it will trigger unrest amongst the regency officials that leads to a not solid leadership and development programme will fall apart. “I ask both of you to maintain your partnership. If there is any dispute, please report immediately for not to protract the issue,” advised Zaini.
The Governor appraise the community of Aceh Barat for being mature in the democracy. The Governor also asked the leading couple to maintain mutual communication with all stakeholders in Aceh Barat District. With good spirit and well maintained communication, all existing issue in the development process of Aceh Barat District can be solved in a good manner.
The inauguration of the Regent and Vice-Regent of Aceh Barat District was also attended by the Commander District Military 012/Teuku Umar, civil and military officials and thousands of invitees including attendants from adjacent districts, the Government of Aceh and Jakarta.
Meanwhile, during the opening ceremony of the Special Plenary Session of the District Parliament of Nagan Raya, the Chairman of the District Parliament, Samsuardi, requested the leading couple to submit more community oriented working programmes for the next five years. Including building houses for the poor each year.
“We hope that the welfare of the community of Nagan Raya will improved in accordance with the programme of the Government of Aceh targeting 100,000 houses for the poor in Aceh,” said Samsuardi, who is also known as Juragan. (edi/riz)
October 01, 2012
Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah officially revoked the business permit for a company developing a controversial oil palm plantation in a peat swamp in Sumatra, concluding a case that had tested Indonesia’s commitment to a moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and rainforests.
Abdullah revoked palm oil company PT Kallista Alam’s permit on Thursday after an Indonesian court instructed him to do so. Earlier the central government’s REDD+ task force concluded the plantation in the Tripa peatland violated multiple regulations.
“This is the first in the history of the Government of Aceh,” said Makmur Ibrahim, Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat.
The permit allowing PT Kallista Alam to establish a 1,605-hectare plantation in the Tripa peat swamp was controversial because it violated a country-wide moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and primary forests issued in 2011 by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The concession was granted by the former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf more than three months after the moratorium went into effect.
A local environmental group — the Aceh chapter Walhi — filed suit against PT Kallista Alam and the Aceh government to test the central government’s commitment to the moratorium. The case garnered international interest for both its egregious nature — multiple regulations should have protected the land from conversion — and the presence of critically endangered orangutans. Local communities were also opposed to the plantation, bringing in a human rights element as well.
PT Kallista Alam is also the subject of a police investigation for illegal burning, according to The Jakarta Post.
Over the past 20 years Indonesia has had one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world, but in 2009 Indonesian Yudhoyono pledged to reduce deforestation as part of a commitment to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Under his “7/26” plan, Indonesia aims to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent — and up to 41 percent with international support — by 2020 relative to a business-as-usual scenario. Norway has committed up to $1 billion to support the initiative.