Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Swamp Forest: Historic Cancellation of Oil Palm Permit Opens Door for Prosecution of Companies' Crimes
Latest Satellite Image shows company still burning protected peatlands
JAKARTA - Less than
one week after history was made as the Aceh Government revoked the first
industrial palm oil permit from the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, a coalition of
NGO’s known as ‘Save Tripa Peat Forest’ highlighted today in a press briefing additional
clear breaches of Indonesia's multi million dollar forest protection agreement
with Norway, only kilometers from the first location, and demanded National
Police increase their activities to quickly bring these crimes to trial.
Deddy Ratih, Forest Campaigner for Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) explained “This continues to be the leading test case for a National problem. While the revocation of PT Kallista Alam is a step in the right direction, there is still much more action required by police and Government to resolve the problems in Tripa. The Ministry of Environment continues to investigate a raft of the environmental crimes in Tripa with no end in sight. Meanwhile, the legal testimonies of local communities to the National Police continue to be ignored”
Kamarrudin, the lawyer representing local people and the environment in the Tripa case, said, “There are strong indications that the enforcement of the law in the Tripa case has been “hijacked” by the financial power of corporations operating in the Tripa peat swamps. This can be seen in the less than optimal work of the provincial and national police, and the investigators of the Ministry of the Environment. We request that the National Police Chief and the Ministry of the Environment immediately evaluate the investigative processes to date, and move forward with a thorough investigation of the criminal crimes against spatial planning, plantation and environmental laws and regulations in the Tripa peat swamps. We hope that this case, that has drawn national and international attention, will not be frozen by those with vested interests in the law enforcement and government agencies. We also hold the Ministry of the Environment to its promise to launch criminal and administrative against companies that have committed serious environmental crimes in the Tripa peat swamps”.
In an impassioned address, Adnan NS, a prominent Community leader from Aceh stressed, “Despite the recent cancellation of the PT Kallista Alam permit, and ongoing investigations into violations of the law by this and other companies in Tripa, on the ground nothing has changed yet. Community livelihoods continue to be destroyed, even though local community leaders traveled all the way to Jakarta to report this to the national police back in November 2011. We are still waiting for action and demand to know why their testimonies have been ignored”.
“Over the last two months I’ve been on speaking tours of both the USA and Australia, and all around the world people are continually asking me about the situation in Tripa.” Said Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation Director of the Sumatran Conservation Programme. “International interest in the governance of Indonesia's remaining forests and rapidly declining wild species populations is extremely high, and to them my message is clear - anyone with a computer can now check on forest clearance in Indonesia, measure and quantify it, and get daily updates on illegal fires, and circulate that information globally. As individuals we have never before had access to so much quantifiable information in other parts of the world or the ability to share it so widely and people around the world continue to be extremely alarmed and concerned about Tripa, as what they see is that so far nothing has yet changed. Unless the destruction is halted very very quickly, we are still likely to see the local extinction of Sumatran Orangutans from Tripa in the very near future.
“The forest concession known as Dua Perkasa Lestari (DPL) has been marked as off-limits in all three releases of the Government’s moratorium map, a tool designed to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation, but satellite imagery from last week clearly show that burning and illegal clearing of Tripa’s peat swamp forests is still taking place. Furthermore, the DPL area has no clear HGU permit, it clearly lies within the Leuser Ecosystem protected by National Spatial Planning law 26/2007, and it contains peat over 3m deep. There are three companies that have been the major burning culprits, namely PT.SPS2, PT DPL and PT KA. We should pay greater attention to this because it is in violation of Law No. 32/2009 on the Environmental Protection and Management” explained Riswan Zen, a Senior GIS mapping expert from the Univeristy of North Sumatra.
“Over 25,000 people have already signed a petition calling for immediate action to halt the destruction of Tripa’s unique ecosystem, from within Tripa itself, from Aceh, from Indonesia, and from all over the world, contributing to the recent closure of the illegal PT Kallista Alam concession. Now we, together with the local community, are launching a new petition (at http://www.change.org/savetripa2) calling on Indonesia’s National Police to support the findings of the REDD+ Taskforce and the Ministry of Environment, and immediately escalate the cases under investigation to formal prosecutions. Much more still needs to be done to protect the remaining forests of Tripa, Aceh, and Indonesia as a whole. But the recent cancellation of the illegal PT Kallista Alam concession is an historic legal precedent for the country and it now needs to be followed up with the investigation and processing of all law breakers, and prosecution for their offences” Said Usman Hamid of Change.org Indonesia.
Its up to all of us to take action to protect the environment, and it can be as simple as signing a petition online, sharing it with your friends, tweeting and using social media to make our country a better place for all Indonesians,” said Melanie Subono. “I’m proud to have signed the petition to save Tripa and to see our laws finally being enforced. In fact, it is our duty as citizens to demand that our laws be upheld, especially those protecting the environment we all live in. Very soon I plan to visit Tripa and see the Orangutans, the forests, and the destruction still taking place with my own eyes. I’ll be going in close to 4 weeks time, and sincerely hope that before I get there, the National Police will have finally begun to take action on this globally important issue”
For further media comment or information, please contact:
Dr Ian Singleton
Director of Conservation, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programmokko123@gmail.com
Forest Campaigner, WALHI Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)
Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia