Peat Swamp Deforestation
Support our cause! Join Rumah Pohon as a volunteer now!
Help support Rumah Pohon with sponsorships/donations!
Links to similar stories
Partners of Rumah Pohon
Das Baumhaus e.V. consists of concerned citizens that inspire to support the development of our global communities to make it a better world.
Treehouse Asia is the Asian partner of Das Baumhaus e.V based in Europe. Treehouse Asia desires to engage communities in Asia and identify projects that support the organic development of communities in need.
A recent legal victory by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment has been hailed as heralding a new era for conservation efforts in Indonesia.
In August 2011, the governor of Aceh granted a permit to palm oil company Kalista Alam to clear 1,605 hectares of peatland in the Rawa Tripa forest. The legality of the permit was subsequently challenged by the Indonesia group, known as Wahli, and its ally, Friends of the Earth, whose representatives argued that the permit violated the area’s protected status. On Aug. 30 this year, the Medan Administrative High Court ordered the Aceh administration to revoke the permit issued to Kalista.
It is well known that most cases of deforestation in Indonesia are linked to bribery at ministry and local government levels. This fact is recognized by the “Green Carbon, Black Trade” report by the UN Environment Program. The report says that estimates for illegal logging in Indonesia alone range from $600 million to $8.7 billion per year. Most illegal logging takes place in regions characterized by widespread corruption, and permits for illegal logging are obtained by bribing state officials — “a common practice in Indonesia,” as the report puts it.
Bribes and corruption are the primary challenges in combating illegal logging, the report says. However, being an (inter)governmental organization itself, the UNEP fails to grasp the ramifications of the state failure that is the root cause of the problem. To the contrary, the UNEP suggests more governmental regulation and stricter enforcement, thus arguing in favor of increased state powers. More power, however, will not reduce the abuse thereof. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton put it.
If more government is not the answer, what then is the solution to the problem of preserving a clean environment during Indonesia’s industrialization?
The first problem in addressing the downsides of development lies in defining what constitutes a negative consequence of development. Everyone agrees that pollution in itself is a bad thing, but how much of it is necessary or acceptable to achieve a higher living standard? How much deforestation is too much? How does one strike a balance between preserving a pristine environment and modernization/urbanization?
During their industrialization, Western countries have resolved those conflicts largely in favor of modernization. As an aside, the world’s worst polluters still are China, the United States, Russia and most of the Group of Eight countries and not emerging markets such as Indonesia, which ranks only 16th in a UN study.
It must be recognized that despite its bad reputation, the forestry sector represents an important pillar of Indonesia’s economy. Policies proposed by overzealous environmental NGOs and Western governments — such as through standards discriminating against forest product operators in developing countries — tend to ignore the economic benefits of exploiting natural resources in developing countries.
Thousands of jobs and livelihoods depend on this income and their destruction would not only be economically disastrous but also inhumane. Moreover, environmental NGOs and Western governments proclaiming to serve the “common good” often further the weal of vested interests.
As for how much development is good and how much is too much for Indonesia, no one knows. As Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek has pointed out, the basic problem with central planning is a lack of knowledge. As long as there is no free interplay between supply and demand, societal preferences — expressed in prices — are impossible to know.
In other words, the conflict between preserving the natural state of the environment and human development can only be resolved by society itself through the institutions of private property and the freedom to buy and sell it. If demand for nature is high, customers will be willing to pay for it and sellers will be eager to provide the demanded goods.
Support Coalition for Community Struggle of Kepulauan Meranti urges President SBY to immidiately acts to solve forestry case in Riau especially in Pulau Padang, Kepulauan Meranti district to prevent self-immolation by 10 members of the local community from Pulau Padang. We call on engagement with all stakeholders with PT RAPP to be supported to be one of the solutions that has to be taken by government and gives time for aconflict resolution between company and community.
Coalition assess action of Self-burning by community is not appropriate. However this extreme decision is the result of frustation of the community who losses hope. Effort of conflict resolution that is still in process by government that only is in the interest of company. The industry is always prioritized putting the community in injustice position.
“The President has to take responsibility to stop this extreme decision by community of conflict victims of forestry in Riau and other area. This is a good opportunity for president to restructure the forestry ministry,” Said Riko Kurniawan, Speakers of coalition.
Conflict of community in Pulau Padang, Merbau sub-district, Kepulauan Meranti district with PT RAPP (APRIL Group) took place since the issued of Forestry Minister Decree 327/2009. This decree is declaring the expanding area of PT RAPP concession and most of the land are peat area in Pulau Padang and Kampar Peninsula.
“Law distortion in the issued of 327/2009 at least occured in the process of administration, area confirmation, environment impact assessment and violates other rules. By these violations its obvious the people will protest because it is regarding their land from their generation,” said Riko Kurniawan.
Beside, Pulau padang is supposed to categorized as small island and formed by peat dome which fragile against large scale forest conversion. By traditional management scheme, Pulau Padang is experiencing subsidence of its peat surface for 1 meter last few years.
In the other hand, sago farmers which the main sector economy for Pulau Padang community will be disturbed because of peat forest conversion that will dried the land. Other condition are worst of the abration on the coast area. In the other side the local community depends on the forest.
Not only environment and economy sectors but also the society are impacted of this 327/2009 also harm. Since the permit issued, integrity of community no longer exists. Unilaterally conflict resolution and pro-industry interests has increasing the social restlesness.
“Pulau Padang community that were live peaceful by farming and sago and rubber started disturbed when PT RAPP came and convert 40.000 hectares of natural forest of 110.000 hectares of Pulau Padang for Acacia Plantation,” said Riko.
Support Coalition for People Struggle of Kepulauan Meranti: Walhi Riau, STR, PRD Riau, JMGR, Jikalahari, Greenpeace, Kabut, TII Riau, Scale Up, Rumah Pohon
“RAPP together with Teluk Binjai villagers managed Tree Planting” Press Release title by PT RAPP Public Relation in several media in Riau on March 9 2012.
Since the permit of Timber Plantation (HTI) in Kampar Peninsula, Riau, Indonesia on 2009 given to PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), this company has to mobilize many resources in order to accept as the company that put commitment to the environment and law.
To create an image that this company accepted by the community, not only cost financially in Public Relation activity, PT RAPP also manage ways to create an impression of “well accepted” by the community and government.
After three years of the Timber Plantation permit granted, recently this pulp and paper company managed “Tree Planting” activity in their program of supporting the central government program “Planting 1 million trees”. This Tree Planting was took place at Teluk Binjai village, Teluk Meranti Sub-district, Riau by planting Bintaro tree for 5,6 kilometer.
This Super Extra “effort” has to be taken by company that owned by Tanoto Sukanto because of their controverse permit which is on Protected peat swamp forest of Kampar Peninsula. Even the “hard work” has been started since this company operates, when International NGO Greenpeace and Local Environment NGOs in Riau such as Jikalahari managed demonstration in the forest that was just being clear cutted.
Strong resistance also came from a community group of Teluk Meranti village, Pelalawan, Riau. This group made a citizen lawsuit at Pelalawan State Court which then rejected because the judge considered the case was not at the right court level.
Ironically, Teluk Binjai villagers, where the Tree Planting took place two months ago by PT RAPP comes for a protests. This morning (16/5/2012) approximately 200 Teluk Binjai villagers manage peace action at Small Harbour of PT RAPP at Teluk Binjai.
This action is planned by the villagers after they feel cheated by PT RAPP that not keep the promise as stated in the memo of understanding in 2010. In their effort of getting acceptance from all villages around its operation area, two years ago PT RAPP made a MoU of providing 6.000 hectares of its concession for rubber plant which they called as Trees for Community (Tanaman Kehidupan).
Those Trees for Community will be submitted to the locals after 6 years. Land of 1.222 hectares of rubber plantation will be submitted to Teluk Binjai villagers, 2.300 hectares for Teluk Meranti villagers and 3.000 hectares for Pulau Muda villagers.
However after 2 years, PT RAPP does not keep its promise. According to Buyung Siliwangi, Teluk Binjai villager, only 800 hectares of the land being planted by rubber. “those 800 hectares of rubber plantation is not well maintained,” said Buyung.
That’s one of the reason of Teluk Binjai villagers to urge PT RAPP to keep its promise. This action is one of dozen actions by Teluk Binjai villagers.
Dozen of people from Teluk Meranti, Pelalawan, which most of them were women “shield” their mouths by black duct tape. They stood in silence and then walked slow from the parking lot towards court room of Pelalawan and stretched written posters, “Judge’s Voice, People’s Voice?”
Daylight, Wednesday (21/3), the people from Teluk Meranti Riau is hoping for justice to the state law. For over 3 years they are fighting to defend Kampar Peninsula Peat Forest, from people’s meeting, meeting with the company until met the Indonesia Forestry Minister. But still the forest that they are fighting for is still detroyed by PT RAPP (Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper) APRIL group that based in Singapore and owned by pulp and paper tycoon, Sukanto Tanoto.
Suffering of forfeit the forest as their source of livelihood in generations was caused by the Forestry Minister Policy that issued Timber Plantation Permit (IUPHHKT) in Kampar Peninsula. The Forestry Minister Decree 327/2009 is giving rights to PT RAPP to convert carbon rich-peat forest for 43 thousands hectares become Acacia Plantation.
“We disappointed. Government don’t care about us. We’ve tried everything. We fight since 2009. The judge decision has extremely tortured us,” said Zul Efendi, one of the Teluk Meranti people who joint the silent action.
That day the law was not taking side to the people of Teluk Meranti. Citizen lawsuit against Forestry Minister and District head of Pelalawan for their policy of issuing 327/2009 has finished. Judge evaluated that citizen lawsuit is not their authority and consider as civil case and not criminal.
“Since the beginning the object of our lawsuit is not state administration, but the against the law act tort by forestry minister and Pelalawan Head District. We deeply regrets this interlocutary because the judge is not looking closely at the object of the lawsuit,” said Suryadi, the Teluk Meranti people’s attorney and also known as Director of Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Pekanbaru.
According to Suryadi, citizen lawsuit by the Teluk Meranti to resolve legal disputes is one of the good example in citizenship. Suryadi regrets the negligence of the judges to see the lawsuit object.
Citizen Lawsuit of Teluk Meranti was registered on 26 October 2011 and this citizen lawsuit is getting support form local NGOs in Riau including Greenpeace. Greenpeace was managed action in the middle of PT RAPP concession by stretched a big banner and written “Obama You Can Stop This”. And this action got serious attention from Indonesia Government and other countries. Even one of the buyers of PT RAPP paper from Finland is terminating billion Rupiah of contract.
In 2010, with local NGOs, the community also conduct seed restoration as a form of resistance because the government and company were still clear cutting the forest and on the contrary the community were planting. But now those planted seeds are destroyed by the PT RAPP heavy equipments.
“This is hurt. We don’t know what to do. The law is no longer belongs to the people. But we are still going to defending the forest for our future. About the method, we will discuss it with the other community,” said Zul Efendi.