Tag Archive | Forest Fires

Save Orangutans and The Tripa Peat Swamp Forest

December 2012: The Sumatran orangutan is losing habitat fast. Pristine forest in Indonesia is being carved up, set on fire and converted into palm oil plantations at a shocking pace. The drive for profit is seeing palm oil companies also move into areas of protected forest – like the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest in Aceh. Home to many iconic species, including the densest population of the last remaining 6,600 Sumatran orangutans, Tripa is also a critical carbon storehouse for the planet.

The destruction of Tripa is having disastrous consequences: for the wildlife and biodiversity which is perishing with it, for the local communities whose livelihoods depend upon it, and for all the rest of us as carbon emissions escalate. Tragically, over 80% of orangutans in Tripa forest are estimated to have perished as a result of this habitat destruction.

But in a case that could make history, two palm oil companies are now facing court for operating illegally in Tripa. The tireless efforts of local and international NGOs have pushed this issue forward and it is about to become a real test case for Indonesia. If the law is upheld and the law-breakers are punished then there is hope for protecting other areas of forest in Indonesia in the future. If not, the law loses even more ground and greed gets the green light. International public pressure is urgently needed to help uphold Indonesia’s environmental laws and to take a stand against this blatant exploitation for the benefit of so few. Please add your voice and help show that the world is watching this case.

What you can do right now:

1. Sign this petition to demand that the law be upheld in the Tripa case:

2. Find out more and donate to the campaign at:

3. Like and Share this video as widely as possible.

State Attorney Lawyers File The Legal Case of Tripa Peat Swamp This Week


JAKARTA – Deputy V heading the Legal Division of the Ministry of Environment, Sudariono, explained that a team of State Attorney Lawyers will file a lawsuit in the case of the Tripa Peat Swamp this week.

“The plan is at the beginning of this month, and within one to three days, the team of State Attorney Lawyers, as the legal representatives of the Minister of the Environment, will depart for Aceh,” said Sudariono during a press conference after a Coordination Meeting on Environmental Law Enforcement in 2012 in Jakarta, last Tuesday morning, November 6, 2012.

He said, there are two lawsuits to be filed: a criminal case and a civil case related to PT. Kallista Alam (KA) and PT. Surya Panen Subur (SPS) 2. For PT. KA the case will be filed in Nagan Raya, Aceh Barat, namely the District Court of Meulaboh.

While for PT. SPS-2 the case will be filed in the District Court of Jakarta. But, Sudariono did not declare exactly which court. “In accordance with the deed,” he claimed.

Sudariono said that for the criminal case, the team of State Attorney Lawyers is prepared with an Order of Appoinment for the Public Prosecutor to Observe the Development of the Investigation of the Crime, also known as P 16.

“The criminal charges are compiled together with BPLN LH, so hopefully,” added Sudariono.

Currently, the Ministry of Environment ,with the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, are applying a Certification Programme for Environmental Judges.

The goal of this programme is to improve the legal handling of environmental cases at all court levels, including the Administrative Court, to better fulfill the sense of justice for litigants involved, and also to support efforts in environmental protection.

“There are still laws that are unclear, so this certification programme is important in order to build a common perception,” said the Head of the Supreme Court, Hatta Ali.

Hatta Ali said that the enforcement of  environmental law so far strictly refers to Law No. 32/ 2009, but there are still obstacles on the field. “Concerning expert witnesses, for example, what is the criteria? Does it fulfill the requirements for filing a “legal standing?” said Ali.

The Ministry of Environment indicated that the Certification Programme for Environmental Judges will be carried out for two months. This programme prioritises the judges in charge in the regions with the most severe envrionmental destruction, namely Sumatera, Java and Kalimantan.(bna)


EPA Visit, Let’s Have A Look At Oil Palm Plantations in Indonesia

By Sapariah Saturi,  October 22, 2012 9:59 pm | Free translation by Adji Darsoyo

Aerial image taken on Tuesday, 27 March 2012

“If the world refuses oil palm, that’s not fair. I die hard there. I talked to Greenpeace, telling that there is no environmental destructing oil palm in Indonesia.” That was Presiden SBY’s statement by the end of June 2012 in Rion De Janeiro, Brazil, as quoted by Investor Daily. 

Who knows, may be the Presiden was too busy to read or to receive reports on the issues around the operation of oil palm plantations in this country. The statement contradicts the report of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claiming that the production of Crude Palm Oil from Indonesia is environmentally unfriendly. EPA replied by visiting this country to look closer at the oil palm plantation.

Before visiting the plantations, EPA’s representative attended a 1-day workshop with the topic Sustainable Palm Oil Related to GHG Emission in Jakarta. This event was initiated by ISPO Commission in collaboratio with the Indonesian Oil Palm Council (DMSI), Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture.

source: YEL/SOCP/PanEco

Let us have a glimpse look at some excerpts of events showing how “unclean” the oil palm plantations in this country, be it of the members of Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or not. Still fresh in our memory, by the end of September 2012, as Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah revoked the permit of PT. Kalista Alam over 1,605 ha oil palm plantation in Aceh’s Tripa Peat Swamp. The permit issued by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf in August 2011 was included within the area of moratorium.

This permit was not only violating the procedure – which was legally challenged by WALHI Aceh and granted by the Administrative High Court of Medan, the land clearing was done by burning. For the clearing by burning, the Presiden Director of PT Kalista Alam became a suspect.

Is Tripa Peat Swamp free from destruction? The answer is: No. Why? There are still oil palm companies remaining within this peat swamp forest area, which is part of Leuser Ecosystem. By the end of 2012, smokes were still observed within the areas of several oil palm concessions.

Data from Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL) obtained from satellite images until September 2012, the highest number of hotspots were identified within two olil palm concession areas, which are 134 in the area of PT Surya Panen Subur and 55 of PT Dua Perkasa Lestari. “It turns out that whilst fussing about PT Kalista Alam, the others took the chance to continue their action,” said Riswan Zen, a researche of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL), by the beginnig of October 2012.

Another case, within the plantation of PT Bumi Pratama Khatulistiwa (PT BPK) of Wilmar International Group. By the end of August 2012 in the village of Sungai Enau, Sub district Kuala Mandor b of the District Kubu Raya in West Kalimantan, farmers have been protesting against this oil palm company, member of RSPO. This is not the first time. They repeatedly demanded the company to fulfil its promises, among others to improve the access road and to employ the surrounding community.

Those to points are parts of the agreement between the company and the community as the condition for the community to release their lands. This agreement has been reviewed many times, the last was due in the mid of August. Since there was no realisation, the community reclaimed their land of around 4,000 ha. This is only one of a number of the issues resulted through the presence of oil palm companies in this area.

Investigation of WALHI West Kalimantan in April 2012 shows that the company has ignored the social aspect and the aspect of sustainable management of the environment. The company also ignored a number of regulations related to the obligations to fulfil as being member of RSPO and the IFC’s standard of performance.

The standard regulations of RSPO are among others commitment to transparency, complying with existing laws and regulations, commitment to long term economic and financial viability. Then, targeted best management practices of the plantation and the mill, environmental responsibilty, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as responsibility upon workers, individuals and community affected by the plantation and the mill.

Standard criteria of IFC are among others assessment on social, environmental, management and labor systems and working condition, mitigation to pollution, utilisation, health and community’s safety and security. Then, land acquisition and resettlement as well as sustainable conservation of biodiversity and natural resources, indigenous community and culutural heritage.

According to Hendrikus Adam, Research and Communication Coordinator of WALHI West Kalimantan, WALHI’s findings  are among others that the community does not experience any social responsibility of the company. If there was, it was based on the request of the community, not based on the company’s initiative. And then also that the company grabs the land from the community during the expansion of the plantation.

Conflict potensial in the field related to the presence of the company are still existing. This is visible through sign boards installed by the community restricting the company to work on the land within the company’s plantation area. “The community has been demonstrating demanding company’s righteousness. The community has claimed the land, plasma  Potensi konflik di lapangan, terkait kehadiran perusahaan masih ada. Kondisi ini, terlihat dari pemasangan sejumlah plang oleh warga sebagai tanda perusahaan dilarang mengerjakan lahan di areal perkebunan PT. BPK.  “Warga pernah demonstrasi menuntut keadilan kepada PT. BPK. Banyak lahan diklaim masyarakat, plasma plantation was managed by the company and never divided amongst the farmers,” he said mid September 2012.

The company was considered not trasparent in the management of the plantation. The clearing of the plantation land of PT. BPK also destroyed the forest in the surrounding of community’s settlement. “This totally eliminates the biodiversity and existing wild life as well as traditional medicine plants.”

Waiting for The Rescue of Tripa Peat Swamp

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,

Environment Ministry Targets Plantation Firms Accused of Sumatra Forest Clearing

The Jakarta Globe | Fidelis E. Satriastanti | July 23, 2012

Fires continued to be set in Tripa’s peat forestl, 13 June 2012, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia. According to a field team from the coalition of NGO’s to protect Tripa, that visited the area. Fires are continuing to be lit in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest for palm oil plantations 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. Photo: Paul Hilton/SOCP/YEL (HANDOUT PHOTO, EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

The Environment Ministry is investigating eight plantation companies in Sumatra for allegedly clearing nearly 4,000 hectares of forest using slash-and-burn methods.

Arief Yuwono, the minister’s deputy for environmental damage control and climate change, said on Sunday that the companies were believed to have burned down more than 3,800 hectares of forest.

“Two of the companies are in Riau, four are in South Sumatra and two are in Aceh,” he said.

He added that the ministry was also investigating some local officials involved in issuing permits to the companies.

The investigation comes as the Environment Ministry prioritizes measures to prevent haze as a result of forest fires on the island and particularly in Riau, which is set to host the 18th National Games in September.

Purwasto Saroprayogi, head of the ministry’s forest fire monitoring department, said the areas of top priority were Pelalawan and Rokan Hilir districts in Riau.

“We’re giving priority to these two regions because the number of forest fire hot spots detected there is quite high,” Purwasto said.

He added that there was a risk of more fires spreading in the province because of the hot spots.

He said that under the ministry’s Fire Danger Rating System, officials now had a better understanding of how the fires were spreading.

“Whereas before we could only monitor once every seven days, now we can do it once every three days,” Purwasto said.

As of July 15, there were 2,643 hot spots detected in Riau this year, or more than half of the 4,876 detected across Indonesia by a US satellite. South Sumatra accounted for 1,180 hot spots, while West Kalimantan had 1,053.

In Riau, most of the hot spots were concentrated in Pelalawan district, with 527, followed by Bengkalis and Rokan Hilir.

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya warned that the number of fires would increase as the dry season continued, fanned in part by the “El Nino” phenomenon in October.

“Based on the information from the FDRS and predictions of decreased rainfall, there will be a high potential of forest fires in the eight most prone provinces of North and South Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, and [all of] Kalimantan,” he said as quoted by environmental website MongaBay.co.id.

Black Trail of The Green Governor

This article originally published in TEMPO Magazine in July 17, 2012
Free translation by Adji Darsoyo

Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, one of the many “treasures” of Aceh Province, is on the edge of total destruction. Joint Forces form Jakarta continue investigating the legal violation leading to the destruction.

Amongst the scattered tree trunks and branches burnt into charcoal, Basuki Wasis again asked his staff to drill the soil with a pipe. The first pipe went into the ground. The second and the third pipes, both connected to the first one, each of 1 m long, drilled in without any resistance. Only the fourth pipe left 40 cm above the ground surface.

After collecting sample from the drill bit, Basuki made a note in his note book:  peat depth in that area measured 3.6 m. “This is the evidence of violation of the regulation restricting planting on peatland,” said the researchers from the Lab for Forest Influence of the Forest Ecology Division of IPB Bogor to Tempo, following the drilling, on Thursday two weeks ago.

On that day, Basuki and his team drilled on 6 different spots within the Village Aloe Batang Bruek of the Sub district Darul Makmur in Aceh’s Nagan Raya District. From that particular area within the concession of PT. Kallista Alam, the team also collected samples of burnt trees, charcoal and ashes. “Those are evidences for the lawsuit against Kallista,” said Bayu Hardjanto, an investigator from the Ministry of Environment.

This is the x-time that investigators from Jakarte “flew over” to Tripa Peat Swamp. The first visit on last May 4, investigators from the Central Police and from the Attorney General joined the team. After the inferno of the destruction of thousands of hectares in Tripa was published both in national and international media, joint investigator team from Jakarta moved back and forth to Tripa. They acted directly under the supervision of UKP4.

Now, Tripa Peat Swamp Forest is on the edge of total destruction. In the early 80’s, this particular peat swamp forest areas on the west coast of Aceh covered no less than 62,000 ha. Now, it remains not more than 17,000 ha only. And continues to shrink, since a number of companies continue relentlessly to burn the forest and turn it in oil palm plantations.

Even at the time Tripa was struggling, the Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf has issued a permit for additional 1, 605 plantation area to PT Kallista Alam. PT Kallista is the most active company in Tripa after the peace agreement of Aceh in 2005.

And this despite the Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 issued by SBY, known as “Inpres Moratorium”, just several months before Irwandi issued the permit. Through the instruction dated on May 20, 2011, the President instructed all Ministries and related agencies to temporarily halt any permit to clear peat swamp forest.

So, according to the Head of UKP4, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the area of Tripa Peat Swamp has been included in the moratorium map. “The status of Tripa has been determined as a non-convertible area,” said Kuntoro, who was also the Head of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency for Aceh and Nias.

Irwandi’s move breaching the moratorium has confused many circles. Because, he was well known as the “green” figure or pro-environment. In 2010, for example, Irwandi received an award from the Ministry of Environment based on his dedication towards the environment.

WALHI refer to the case of Tripa as a portrait representing various cases of Indonesian forest destructions. “There is collusion between top officials and private companies to claim community’s land, abandoning the importance of the environment,” said Executive Director of WALHI Aceh, T.M. Zulfikar.

On November 23, 2011, WALHI filed a lawsuit against the issuance of the permit for PT. Kallista Alam by Irwandi. But the panel of Judges rejected the case last April with the reason that both parties have previously not undergo a mediation process outside the court room.

Environmental activist also pointed out that the police and the national military are behind Kallista. According to Halim Gurning, the Coordinator of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari in Nagan Raya, the field office and the plantation area of Kallista are so far protected by the police and the military. They also forbid the community and environmental activist from entering the area of PT. Kallista Alam. Their commander threatened us and he sent his men to spy on our office,” said Halim.

According to Tempo’s source, the “trace” of those forces was still smelled during the visit of the joint investigators. At that time, there were three gate huts standing in a row, the Mobile Brigade on the left, the military in the middle and the police on the right. In front of those huts stood a signboard “Police and Military Post”. Besides, the team of investigators has also found an official military vehicle. But, as Tempo visited two weeks ago, the police and military attributes have already been cleaned up.

The team of investigators has presenter their findings before the Head of UKP4 consisting of 5 different kinds of legal violations in Tripa. The investigators stated that they’ve found the fact that PT Kallista Alam has conducted land clearing before granted with plantation permit by Irwandi. This is considered to be a violation against the Law on Plantation.

To the investigators, the legal staff of Kallista Alam admitted that the company has started clearing the land since 2009. A year after they start planting oil palm saplings. Same confession has been addressed by Kallista’s field staff to the Ministry of Forestry and the Vice Chairman of the People Assembly, Farhan Hamid, who is originally from Aceh, during their site visit last May.

The next violation is that Kallista carried out clearing by burning activities. According to an investigator, clearing by burning is much cheaper, since the company only pays for IDR 2 million per ha. In the contrary, appropriate land clearing in accordance with the regulation can cost IDDR 60 million per ha. Even though it is cheap, clearing by burning violates Plantation and Environmental Laws. According to the investigators, the 1,605 ha of Kallista also lies within Leuser Ecosystem, which is appointed as National Strategic Area. Land clearing within this area also violates the Law on Spatial Planning.

Field investigation also proved that the permit of Kallista Alam does not fulfil the requirements, since the permit was issued for an area of peat more than 3 m deep. In this case, the joint investigation suspected that the permit documents were manipulated.

Even though the case is bright and clear, no suspect has been announce by the investigators. According to Deputy VI of the Ministry of Environment, Sudarijono, so far they’ve just interrogated a number of witnesses. “They are either from the Office of Forestry, plantation manager or from the community, who all have witnessed the fires,” he said.

One of Kallista’s project leader, Alvis, said that his company has fulfilled all procedural requirements to obtain the land clearing permit in Tripa Peat Swamp. Concerning the shrinking area of Tripa, he complained why only Kallista was exposed. “There are many companies operating here,” said Alvis.

Irwandi has indeed not been investigated. Since he failed in the last April’s governor election, he spent more time in Malaysia. Before leaving for Malaysia, he told to a number of journalists that he has rejected Kallista request many times. He claimed that he knows that the plot of land requested by Kallista is situated within Leuser Ecosystem. Irwandi signed the permit after having the recommendation from various parties, such as the Bupati, the Office of Forestry and the Police.

Therefore, from the legal perspective, he is sure that the permit for Kallista was not problematic. But, “Personally,  I prefer to revoke the permit,” said the former high rank figure of the Free Aceh Movement as quoted by Modus Aceh Magazine of June 10. “At that time, I acted against my own conscience.”

The Central Police’s Crime Director, Brig. Gen. Gatot Subiyaktoro, considered that the permit issued by Irwandy was stained with awkwardness. For example, Governor Irwandi issued the permit based on the principle license issue by the Bupati of Nagan Raya on February 5, 2008, which was expired on February 5, 2011. “How come he referred to expired license?” said Gatot, who visited Aceh wo weeks ago.

Roasted in Tripa Peat Swamp | TEMPO Magazine

This article was published in TEMPO Magazine on July 17, 2012.
Free translation by Adji Darsoyo

Roasted In Tripa Peat Swamp

Not only orangutans are displaced through the burning of peatland. Community from the surrounding areas also became hostile towards the environment of Tripa Peat Swamp.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta–The skull of the primate simply lied under a burnt trunk of a tree, measuring not more than 1 1/2 times of a tennis ball. Tempo took the opportunity to take picture of the also burnt skull from top to bottom. Until then, nobody commented.

But, we attempt to lift it, two guys who were in silece, firmly reminded. “Don’t remove it. It is evidence,” said Indriyanto, an activist from Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari, who has been accompanying Tempo exploring Tripa Peat Swamp of Nagan Raya, Aceh.

Indriyanto and Suratman, local community members guiding the path, were convinced that the skull belonged to burnt orangutan infant, since two weeks earlier they still saw two orangutans in that peat swamp area, that was about to be converted into oil palm plantation. At that particular time, trees were still stanging within the area occupied by PT. Kallista Alam and PT. Surya Panen Subur.

Within 2011-2012, Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari and the Agency for Natural Concervation – Aceh has evacuated 6 orangutans from Tripa Peat Swamp. Indriyanto, together with Suratman, have brought those scarce animas to an intact forest area in Aceh Tengah.

Currently, Tripa Peat Swamp can hardly appear as home for orangutan. As far eyes can see, tree trunks and branches are scattered, turned into charcoal. Smoke was still rising in many places. To avoid sinking into collapsed peat caused by burning, one had to step on the remaining trunks and roots. In the middle of this ocean of charcoal, GPS was very useful to determine the direction. “In the past, I used to put bamboo fish trap under these trunks and roots to catch catfish,” recalled Suratman.

After crossing a drainage canal of 5m wide seperating the area of  PT Kallista and PT Surya, Suratman stood on the pile of roots of a fallen tree. He pulled out a binoculars and observed the far lying obserrvation tower. “Empty,” he said. this means that we were saved to enter the hundreds hectares area that is divided into blocks through the drainage canals. In certain blocks, palm oil seedlings are seen growing up to 50 cm height.


Since last May, dozens of invesigators from the Central Police and from the Ministry of Environment continued to interrogate the management of  PT Kallista Alam and PT Surya Panen Subur. They are in terms of investigating two cases of legal violation: clearing by burning and planting in more than 3 m deep peat.

Oil palm plantations are the source of the peat destruction in Tripa and in other sites within Aceh. Before encroachment and transformation into oil palm plantation, in the 80s, this peatland in the west coast of Aceh has been preserving and regulating water, just like sponges. It absorbs water during rainy season to prevent from flood. Then, it releases the water bit by bit during dry season to prevent from drought.

Not less important, Tripa Peat Swamp forest was a comfortable living space for Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Most of the Sumatran orangutans’ population live in this particular coastal peat swamp of Aceh full of palms and rattans. The rest are distributed within the hinterland forest of Leuser Ecosystem and North Sumatra Province.

Until the beginning of the 90’s, the number of orangutans in this 62,000 ha of Tripa Peat Swamp reached up tp 1,000. Disaster occurred as the Indonesian Government of New Order era issued land concessions (HGU) to a number of private companies in 1991. Those companies cleared the peat forest and transformed it in oil palm plantations.

Now, 7 companies are in the possession of concession within Tripa Peat Swamp. Each occupies between 3,000 to 13,000 ha. Hence, the remaining peatland are around 17,000 ha. Orangutan experts considered that the remaining area is too small for around 280 orangutan estimated to surive in Tripa Peat Swamp.

According to Ian Singleton, the Conservation Director of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, most of the burning parts of Tripa Peat Swamp forest are orangutan habitat. “Before, we found many orangutans there,” he said. On the last June 10, Ian was taken by Suratman and Indriyanto to see the skull suspected to be of an orangutan. After showing its photo to a friend, a taxonomy, the skull was identified to be of a crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) or pig-tail macaque (Macaca nemestrina).

Tens of drainage canals constructed by oil palm plantations have absorbed the water from the peat. Even if it was not burnt, the trees producing fruits for the orangutan would die due to dryness. Refered to the last year’s research, Singleton estimated that the peat swamp forest and orangutan of Tripa will vanish in 2015.


Within the past recent years, Ali Basyiah always spent the day top-less. This villager of Kuala Seumayam in the Sub district of Darul Makmur, Nagan Raya, cannot stand the heat. Even at night, his wife and children sleeps with electric fan. “The temperature increased since oil palm companies operates here,” said Ali, whose village is situated on the edge of PT. Kalista Alam’s plantation areas.

According to temperature measurement of 14 November 2007, the temperature in the surrounding of Tripa Peat Swamp has increased drastically. At 9.30 am, the temperature is already 37 degree celcius. Within three hours, it increases to 43 degree. NOw, after 5 years, Ali feels that the temperature in his village became higher.

Ali did not only suffer because of the temperature alone. His income from fishing and from collecting sweet water shells is decreasing. As Tripa Peat Swamp forest was still intact, Ali only needed to install his bamboo fish trap under a tree within the forest. At that time, he could catch averagely 30 kg of catfish and 3 sacks of sweet water shells. Those times are now history. Now, Ali can only catch te maximum of 10 kg catfish in a day. And for that he had to search to the upstream.

Executive Director of WALHI Aceh, T.M. Zulfikar, said that the experience of the community in the surrounding of Tripa Peat Swamp in the past 5 years is the opposite to the Aceh Green programme launched by the former Governor Irwandi Yusuf after his inauguration i the beginning of 2007.

Zulfikar then revealed the data. Before 2007, forest distruction in Aceh was averagely 20,000 ha per year. After 2007, the forest destruction in Aceh increased between 23,000 and 40,000 ha per year. “The Government of Aceh appeared to have swallowed it own word,” said Adnan N.S. from the Supervisory Board of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari.