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.
[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:
Graham Usher, Lanscape Protection Specialist
Rudy Putra, 2013 Future for Nature Award Winner
Effendi Isma, KPHA Spokeperson
Note to editors:
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- URGENT CALL FOR ACTION – 4 day “fax-a-thon” to save beyond 1.2 million hectares of forest in Aceh Province, Sumatra (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
Hotli Simajuntak | The Jakarta Post – Paper edition
Aceh’s title as a “green” province may likely end with the reactivation of production forest concessions (HPH) in Aceh by the new administration of Zaini Abdullah and Munakir Manaf.
“The Forestry Ministry is currently lobbying the new Aceh administration to reactivate the HPH, which was earlier suspended during Irwandi Yusuf’s administration,” said Greenomics Indonesia coordinator Vanda Mutia Dewi.
According to Vanda, Greenomics recorded around 10 production forest concessions from the previous Aceh administration.
Greenomics Indonesia has strongly criticized the planned reactivation of the 10 HPH permits in Aceh by the Forestry Ministry.
“We strongly criticize the plan to reactivate the HPH operation licenses, which were earlier imposed as a moratorium by previous governor Irwandi Yusuf,” said Vanda.
Vanda urged the current Aceh Governor Zaini not to commit to a political compromise by agreeing to reactivate HPH operations in Aceh.
According to her, Zaini should continue the moratorium and seek an alternative to curb illegal logging effectively and ensure the supply of timber for development and the housing needs of people.
Vanda said Greenomics Indonesia had given several reasons why it had been firm in requiring the stoppage of HPH operations in Aceh, such as the 10 HPH permits covering 819,892 hectares, which were located within and around the Leuser ecosystem.
Besides that, nearly 300,000 hectares of the forest concession areas are in the form of protected forests and conservation areas.
“The 10 production forest concessions are located in 15 regencies and mayoralties that are ecologically at risk of natural disasters, such as floods and landslides,” said Vanda.
Vanda urged Zaini to study the facts carefully and not mix particular political agendas to reactivate the HPH in Aceh.
The Aceh Indonesia Environmental Forum said that the planned issuance of HPH permits in Aceh was a step backward in efforts to save the environment, especially conservation forests in Aceh.
The Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) even deemed that the numerous logging moratorium programs in Aceh had not been fully implemented by the former administration and had become a burden for the new administration.
“The new administration should be extra careful in issuing HPH or mining permits again as they could damage the forests in Aceh,” said Aceh Walhi coordinator Teuku Zulfikar.
- Extinction risk as Aceh opens forests for logging (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Large blocks of Sumatra’s endangered rainforest may be put up for mining, logging (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Indigenous leader speaks out on Ulu Masen: “We’ve never seen anything from REDD. It’s like the wind. We can’t see it, can’t touch it” (climate-connections.org)
- “If companies are stealing the timber, why should I be a bystander?” Notes from a visit to Ulu Masen, Aceh (climate-connections.org)
- Indonesia’s Aceh Province: Now Open for Logging. Say Goodbye to Orangutans (gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com)
- Leuser Ecosystem Under Serious Threat (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
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
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spatial Planning Campaigner, Walhi Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)
Yuyun Indradi – email@example.com
Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia
- PT. Kallista Alam suing Aceh Government in regard to revoking permit (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- 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. (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- District court of Meulaboh delay Kallista hearing for the second time (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Tomorrow, The Civil Trial for Tripa Case Will Be Held In Meulaboh (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- State Attorney Lawyers File The Legal Case of Tripa Peat Swamp This Week (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)
Senin, 24 September 2012 14:30 WIB
MURDANI ABDULLAH | Free translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat, Makmur Ibrahim, said that the plan to withdraw Klaista Alam’s permit by the Government of Aceh under Zaini Abdullah is the first within the whole history of Aceh. This is considered important and to show high commitment of the current Government of Aceh to protect forest conservation, especially in Tripa Peat Swamp. “This is the first in the history of the Government of Aceh,” said Makmur on Monday, September 24, 2012. Makmur continued that being staff member he is ready to implement the Governor’s instruction and will immediately process the plan. He hopes that this will be accepted by all parties in Aceh. As reported earlier, the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, requested the head of BP2T on Monday September 24, 2012 to immediately prepare a draft for the revocation of Kalista Alam’s permit, which relates to the recently announced decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan. The Governor of Aceh, through the Head of Legal and PR Office, Makmur Ibrahim, also said that this decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan is final. “We wait for the draft of the revocation from BP2T. If this can be process within 2 days, then we will also withdraw in 2 days,” said Makmur.
DENNY AFFANDI | Foto : DOK THE ATJEH POST, free translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah said that he would bring the criminal case allegedly conducted by PT Kalista Alam in Tripa Peat Swamp.
“I think we will discuss this matter (the case of Tripa Peat Swamp) as soon as possible,” said Zaini Abdullah after inaugurating Banda Aceh’s Meyer and his Deputy, Mawardi Nurdin-Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, at the City’s Parliament Building today, Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
Governor Zaini also regretted the criminal act destructing Tripa Peat Swamp.
“This not supposed to happen and has to be seriously taken care of to avoid escalation,” said Zaini.
Now, the process of the case of Tripa Peat Swamp was led by the Presidential Working Unit and the team of the Central Police. The collaborated team will conduct site visit tomorrow. 
- Kuntoro Requests The Governor of Aceh to Revoke Plantation Permit in Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- UKP4 requested the withdrawal of palm oil plantation permits in Tripa | KOMPAS (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Government Applies Triple Track to Stop Permit on Tripa Peat Swamp | Berita Satu (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)