It’s the fire season in Indonesia. The haze is not as bad as last year, but once again Riau province in Sumatra was shrouded in smoke. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency has set itself the target of putting out the fires by October.
Last week, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo agreed to extend the country’s moratorium on new forestry concessions. Also last week, Jokowi visited Papua and relaunched the disastrous Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE).
PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ) is an Indonesian palm oil company, that is clearing forest in West Papua to make way for an oil palm plantation. George Tahija is a commissioner of PT ANJ and a member of both The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Indonesia Chapter Advisory Board and the TNC Asia Pacific Council.
PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ) is an Indonesian palm oil company, with a land bank of more than 140,000 hectares. Of this the plantable area is 96,528 hectares, of which 44,143 hectares has so far been planted. The company is currently clearing forest in West Papua to make way for a further 40,500 hectares of oil palm plantations.
A recent study revealed that the Indonesian government has been telling lies about its rate of forest loss. The study found that between 2000 and 2003 the rate of deforestation in Indonesia was about one million hectares per year. In the years 2011 and 2012, the rate doubled to about two million hectares per year.
A recent meeting in Indonesia addressed three important issues facing the future of the forests in the country: gazettement of state forest; exclusion of indigenous peoples’ forest from the state forest; and the resolution of forestry conflicts.
The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) industrial plantations project is having serious impacts on people and forests in Papua province, Indonesia. Forest Peoples Programme’s Sophie Chao visited the project area earlier this year and reports that “disease and undernourishment are rampant”.
“In order to be both effective and equitable, REDD+ will require large areas of land with clear tenure arrangements. Yet many developing countries suffer from conflicts over land ownership and continue to exclude local communities from land use decisions. How will REDD+ impact peace and security in these countries?”
Yesterday, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled that indigenous peoples’ customary forests should not be classed as “State Forest Areas”. This is a landmark ruling and an important step for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in Indonesia.
Yesterday in Jakarta, a coalition of NGOs held a press conference to demand that the Indonesian government takes meaningful action to protect Indonesia’s remaining forests. Among their demands is that the two-year moratorium on new forest concessions should be extended beyond May 2013.
On 13 September 2007, the Indonesian Government adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Five years later, Survival International announced that “Indonesia treats its indigenous and tribal people, especially in West Papua, worse than any other country in the world.” What went wrong?
Indonesia is now half way through its two-year moratorium on forest concessions. The moratorium was implemented as part of a US$1 billion REDD deal between Indonesia and Norway. Most of Norway’s money is to be performance based, and given the results so far, it doesn’t look like Norway will be handing over much cash any time soon.