In August 2011, Irwandi Yusuf, governor of Aceh, signed a permit for a palm oil concession in the Tripa Peat Swamp, part of the Leuser Ecosystem, that Wetlands International describes as “an area of outstanding, world-renowned biodiversity value”. The permit would allow PT Kallista Alam to convert 1,605 hectares of forest.
The Leuser Ecosystem was established as a Strategic National Area for Environmental Protection in Indonesia’s 2008 National Spatial Plan. The Tripa area supports the highest density of the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan on the island of Sumatra.
WALHI Aceh has filed a legal case against Governor Irwandi in the Aceh administrative court. WALHI Aceh’s press release about the legal case is below. WALHI Aceh argues that the palm oil concession is in breach of Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions, that was signed in May 2011.
A comparison of the moratorium forest map issued by the Ministry of Forestry and the concession map shows clearly that the concession area is marked as peatland and therefore that new concessions should not be issued on this land (at least during the two year moratorium). Below is the moratorium map, then the concession map, then a map produced by Tim Koalisi Penyelamatan Rawa Tripa (TKPRT – Coalition Team for the Rehabilitation of Tripa) of the concession overlaid on the moratorium map (click on the images for larger versions):
In fact, as TKPRT points out based on field work and this series of satellite images, PT Kallista Alam started clearing the forest well before Governor Irwandi signed the permit for the concession. The first land clearing started before January 2010. By October 2010, drainage canals had been dug, and an area of the forest had been cleared (click on the image for a larger version):
Re Legal case filed against illegal new palm oil plantation in Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23/11/2011
Indonesia’s renowned ‘Green Governor’, the Governor of Aceh Province, is creating pressure on Indonesian President SBY over the signing of an illegal approval for the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to convert Protected Peat Swamp Forest into Palm Oil Plantations.
Punishable under Indonesian criminal law, the Governor could face up to a maximum 5 years in jail for his role in the issuing of the illegal permit.
A team of lawyers, on behalf of environmental and social justice NGO today issued a lawsuit to the head of the Aceh administrative court against the Governor of Aceh.
Wahli Spokeperson, TM Zulfiker explained the WAHLI case:
“Palm Oil company, PT Kallista Alam, has received the Governor’s signature of approval on a new permit to convert 1,605 hectares of protected forests in the Tripa Peat Swamp, Nagan Raya District, into Palm Oil plantation, destroying forests and peatlands protected by National Spatial Planning Law, Government Regulation 26/2008, and Presidential Instruction 10/2011, issued in May this year, which forbids any new permits on primary forests and peatlands.
“Provincial government sources have stated that this ‘uncharacteristic’ signing of the approval document, dated August 25th, suggests he was either ‘very pressured to sign it’, or simply ‘may not have been fully aware of what he was signing’.
“Clearance of these forests will release huge amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, it threatens important populations of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan and Sumatran tiger, among other species, and it threatens the ecosystem services and livelihoods of numerous local communities in and around Tripa.
“Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 prohibits the issuance of any new licenses for conversion of primary forests or the development of peatlands and is one of the key deliverables forming part of a bilateral agreement, outlined in a Letter of Intent (LoI), between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway for ‘Cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’.
“This latest move put’s Indonesia’s commitment to the US$1 billion bilateral agreement with Norway under serious scrutiny, just days before the COP17 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) starting on 28th November in Durban, South Africa.
“The actions of PT Kalista Alam could come as a huge embarrassment, for the Indonesian President after he stressed the importance ‘to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk,’ at the recent Forestry Indonesia conference in Jakarta.” TM Zulfikar concluded.
For further questions or comment, please email:
WALHI Aceh Spokesperson