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Can REDD save the Tripa peatswamp forest in Indonesia?

Can REDD save the Tripa peatswamp forest in Indonesia?Indonesia’s Environment Ministry has announced that it will conduct an investigation into the awarding of an oil palm concession in the Tripa peastswamp forest in Aceh province in Indonesia.

The announcement follows a visit to Tripa by the REDD+ Task Force. The head of the REDD+ Task Force, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, said, “Opening a plantation inside a protected swamp area has clearly broken the law.”

Last week, the REDD+ Task Force put out a press release based on their investigation at the Tripa peatswamp. The press release mentions the online petition set up by a coalition of organisations working in Aceh (which now has more than 10,000 signatories) The Task Force lists three laws that it believes have been violated. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto “demands” an investigation by the Environment Ministry and the Head of the Indonesian Police.

The REDD+ Task Force press release is posted below in English and Bahasa Indonesian.

On the same day that the REDD+ Task Force put out its press release, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) wrote to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The letter is signed by Jane Goodall (Founder, Jane Goodall Institute, U.N. Messenger of Peace), Richard Leakey (Professor of Anthropology, Stonybrook University), Richard Wrangham (Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University) and Russell Mittermeier (President, Conservation International, Chair, IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group). In the letter, they “respectfully ask” the Indonesian Government to:

  • Enforce the laws that protect the orangutans and habitat of the Leuser Ecosystem
  • Suspend all activities by oil palm companies on recently cleared and burned lands in the Leuser Ecosystem
  • Ban further land drainage and forest clearing in the Tripa peat swamps
  • Honor commitments made through the 2005 Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes
  • Honor commitments made through the 1972 World Heritage Convention

In March 2012, Rainforest Action Network also set up an online petition about Tripa. “As a result of people around the world taking action on this page we were able to shut down the inboxes of the President and his advisors,” RAN writes on its petition website. “There is no doubt our message was heard.”

RAN has now set up a new online petition demanding that Cargill stops trading palm oil from Tripa and from companies profiting from the destruction of the Tripa forests and peatswamp. RAN has also put out a new report titled “Truth or Consequences: Palm Oil Plantations Push Unique Orangutan Population to Brink of Extinction”. The report documents the history and destruction of part of the Tripa peatswamp forest and exposes the companies behind the destruction.

If the Tripa peatswamp forest and the orangutans that live there are saved, it will be a result of several factors: the hard work of local and international NGOs; the national and international pressure through online petitions; the media coverage; and the fact that the ecosystem being destroyed is of global significance.

Whether REDD will have played a role is an interesting question. On the one hand, REDD has failed to make the forest in Tripa worth more standing than cleared. The moratorium, part of the US$1 billion Indonesia-Norway REDD deal, should have protected the forest. But then the moratorium map was amended to exclude an oil palm concession. On the other hand the REDD+ Task Force has responded to the crisis in Tripa and has demanded an investigation. Without REDD, this may never have happened.

Investigation Team of REDD+ Task Force
Report on Findings in Rawa Tripa

Jakarta April 13, 2012 – Towards the end of March 2012, the government of Indonesia was alerted over reports from the province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam about deliberate and systematic attempts at land clearance through forest fires in a certain area of Rawa Tripa that appeared to be not only in direct violation of the two-year suspension or Moratorium on new forest concessions but also included, more alarmingly, the deep peat land area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL) close to the Leuser National Park.
“The incident also resulted in national and international public outrage and concern at the wanton destruction caused to the ecosystem. This is based on the awareness on the importance of peatland conservation in prevention of disasters due to climate change that has negative impacts to mankind,” said the Head of Presidential Work Unit for Supervision and Development Monitoring (UKP 4) and Chairman of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto. The Head of the Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency explained that Rawa Tripa is an important habitat for the protected and nearly extinct animal species which include the orangutan. In a short period of time, an online petition successfully collected almost 10,000 supporters who demanded that the government of Indonesia, in particular President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Ministry of Forestry, the Head of Police Department of Indonesia as well as the Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, to take serious action in law enforcement and peatland protection in Kuala Tripa as well as protection of the orangutan within. Additionally, this petition was also addressed to the Ambassador of Norway and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.
The Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency has immediately instructed a holistic investigation to decide whether the land allocation has been made in accordance with the prevalent laws and governance systems, and to find whether the activities carried our by the plantation company is in line with the relevant national laws of the land. The finding of the investigation includes:

  1. There is a forest fire in the area of PT. Kalista Alam (PT.KA) and PT. Surya Panen Subur) located in the area that is adjacent with the concession area of PT.KA. From a naked eye observation, it appears that the forest fire has been ignited in a systematic and well-planned manner causing direct negative effect to the ecosystem. In our opinion, this activity voilates Law number 18/2004 concerning plantation as well as Regulation of Ministry of Agriculture number 26/Permentan/OT140/2/2007 concerning Guidance of Plantation Business Licensing, and Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management.
  2. We also found that the plantation area of PT. Kalista Alam (PT. KA) of 1.605 hectares is located in the Area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL). Some parts of the area have already been planted with Palm Oil and some are ready to be planted while some other parts are forested area. Hence, potentially, it will violate Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial Planning as well as Government Regulation number 26/2008 concerning National Spatial Planning.
  3. According to UKL/UPL (Environment Monitoring Action/Environment Management Actions), the activity of PT. KA is located above thick peatland (from the 6 sampling points, the thickness of 2 sampling points are less than 3 meters, one point has 3 meters thickness and three other points have more than 3 meters thickness). We will need to scrutinize carefully whether 70% of the licensed area mentioned above contains peat deposit. If that is confirmed, then the activity voilates Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial Planning as well as Presidential Decree number 32/1990 concerning Protected Area Management and Regulation of Ministry of Agriculture number 14/2009 concerning Guidance of Utilizing Peatland for Palm Oil Cultivation.
  4. There is a report that indicates that PT KA had initiated activities in the area prior to the issuance of Permit for Plantation (IUP) and Cultivation Rights Title (HGU) by the authorized agency. In this regard, the images form satellite taken on June 11, 2009 show the clearance in the area of PT KA had already taken place, and on the images from satellite taken on October 20, 2010 the land clearance is getting wider. This potentially violates Law number 18/2004 concerning Plantation and Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management, as well as Presidential Instruction Number 10/2011 concerning Moratorium on New License on Primary Natural Forest and Peatland and the attachment Indicative Map on Moratorium on New License (PIPIB)
  5. From the facts mentioned in the four points above, a Technical Team of PIPIB has been established as part of the Presidential Instruction Number 10/2011 which will include the area of PT. KA in the area of PIPIB in its second revision which will be published on May 20, 2012.

From the findings, the Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency believes that there are indications of violations of laws as follow:

  1. Law number 18/2004 concerning Plantation
  2. Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management
  3. Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial planning as well as Presidential Decree number 32/1990 concerning Protected Area Management.

The Head of the Task Force for the preparation of REDD+ Agency demands that the Ministry of Environment and the Head of the Indonesian Police conduct further investigation. Once legal evidences are found, he expects that the Ministry of Environment and the Police Department of Republic of Indonesia will take appropriate actions to bring a halt to these activities and to penalize and recover the loss caused by the ecosystem degradation in the Area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL).
For further information please contact:
Chandra Kirana, Leader of WG on Communication and Stakeholders’ Engagement



Siaran Pers

Tim Investigasi Satgas REDD+ Sampaikan Temuan di Rawa Tripa, Aceh

Jakarta, 13 April 2012 – Pada penghujung Maret 2012, Pemerintah Indonesia menerima laporan mengenai pembukaan lahan yang sistematis dan terencana melalui pembakaran hutan di Rawa Tripa yang berada di dalam Kawasan Ekosistem Leuser (KEL) dan berbatasan dengan Taman Nasional Leuser, di Propinsi Nangroe Aceh Darussalam.
“Kejadian ini menimbulkan keprihatinan dan kegusaran masyarakat di dalam dan di luar negeri. Hal ini didasari atas kesadaran mengenai peranan penting pelestarian lahan gambut dalam mencegah bencana perubahan iklim yang akan berakibat buruk bagi seluruh umat manusia,” ungkap Kepala Unit Kerja Presiden bidang Pengawasan dan Pengendalian Pembangunan (UKP4), selaku Ketua Satgas Persiapan Kelembagaan REDD+, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto. Ketua Satgas REDD+ menjelaskan bahwa Rawa Tripa juga merupakan habitat penting bagi satwa langka yang dilindungi termasuk orangutan. Dalam waktu singkat, sebuah petisi online berhasil mengumpulkan hampir 10.000 pendukung yang meminta pemerintah Indonesia, khususnya Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Menteri Kehutanan, Kepala Kepolisian Indonesia, serta Ketua Satgas REDD+ Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, untuk sungguh­‐sungguh menegakkan hukum dan melindungi rawa gambut Kuala Tripa beserta populasi orangutan yang tinggal di dalamnya. Selain itu, petisi ini juga dialamatkan kepada Duta Besar Norwegia dan Menteri Luar Negeri Indonesia.
Ketua Satgas REDD+ dengan segera telah memerintahkan investigasi yang menyeluruh untuk menentukan apakah alokasi lahan telah dibuat sesuai dengan hukum dan sistem tata kelola yang berlaku, dan juga untuk mengetahui apakah kegiatan yang dilakukan oleh perusahaan perkebunan ini sejalan dengan peraturan perundang­‐undangan nasional terkait. Temuan dari investigasi tersebut termasuk:

  1. Adanya kebakaran lahan di dalam wilayah Perusahaan PT Kalista Alam (PT KA) and PT Surya Panen Subur 2 – yang berada dalam wilayah yang bersebelahan dengan wilayah konsesi PT KA. Dari pengamatan kasat mata, kebakaran tersebut terkesan dilakukan secara teratur dan terencana sehingga menimbulkan dampak negatif terhadap ekosistem. Hal ini menurut hemat kami melanggar UU No. 18 tahun 2004 tentang Perkebunan yang berkaitan dengan (juncto) Peraturan Menteri Pertanian No. 26/Permentan/OT.140/2/2007 tentang Pedoman Perizinan Usaha Perkebunan, dan UU No. 32 tahun 2009 tentang Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup.
  2. Lahan perkebunan PT KA seluas 1.605 hektar berada dalam KEL. Sebagian sudah ditanami kelapa sawit dan selebihnya siap tanam dan sebagian terlihat masih berupa hutan. Hal ini berpotensi melanggar UU No. 26 tahun 2007 tentang Penataan Ruang juncto PP No.26 tahun 2008 tentang Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah Nasional.
  3. Berdasarkan Upaya Pengelolaan Lingkungan (UKL) dan Upaya Pengelolaan Lingkungan (UPL) Perusahaan, diketahui bahwa aktivitas PT KA berada di atas lahan gambut yang tebal (dari enam titik pengambilan sampling, dua titik memiliki ketebalan kurang dari 3 meter [2,75 & 2,80 m], satu titik berketebalan 3 meter dan tiga titik lainnya di atas 3 meter). Perlu diteliti lebih jauh apakah 70% dari wilayah tersebut terdiri dari gambut dalam. Apabila benar, maka hal tersebut melanggar UU No. 26 tahun 2007 tentang Penataan Ruang juncto Keputusan Presiden No. 32 tahun 1990 tentang pengelolaan Kawasan Lindung juncto Peraturan Menteri Pertanian No. 14 tahun 2009 tentang Pedoman Pemanfaatan Lahan Gambut untuk Budidaya Kelapa Sawit.
  4. Terdapat laporan yang mengindikasikan bahwa PT KA telah melakukan aktivitas di atas lahan sebelum Izin Usaha Perkebunan (IUP) dan Hak Guna Usaha (HGU) diterbitkan secara resmi oleh instansi yang berwenang. Terhadap hal ini, foto satelit yang diambil pada 11 Juni 2009 menunjukan pembukaan lahan pada wilayah PT KA sudah terjadi, dan pada foto satelit tertanggal 20 Oktober 2010 pembukaan lahan semakin meluas. Hal ini berpotensi melanggar UU No.18 tahun 2004 tentang Perkebunan, UU No.32 tahun 2009 tentang Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup, dan Inpres 10/2011 tentang Penundaan Ijin Baru pada Hutan Alam Primer dan Lahan Gambut dan lampirannya berupa Peta Indikatif Penundaan Ijin Baru (PIPIB).
  5. Atas fakta pada butir keempat tersebut, Tim Teknis PIPIB yang dibentuk sebagai bagian dari Inpres 10/2011 akan memasukkan kembali wilayah PT KA termasuk ke dalam wilayah PIPIB pada revisi keduanya yang akan terbit pada 20 Mei 2012.

Dari hasil temuan tersebut, Ketua Satgas REDD+ berpandangan terdapat indikasi bahwa telah terjadi pelanggaran peraturan perundang­‐undngan sebagai berikut:

  1. UU No. 18 tahun 2004 tentang Perkebunan;
  2. UU No. 32 tahun 2009 tentang Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup;
  3. UU No. 26 tahun 2007 tentang Penataan Ruang juncto Keputusan Presiden No. 32 tahun 1990 tentang Pengelolaan Kawasan Lindung.

Ketua Satgas REDD+ telah meminta Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kepala Kepolisian Indonesia untuk melakukan investigasi lanjutan. Ketua Satgas REDD+ juga mengharapkan bahwa apabila ditemukan bukti-bukti hukum, maka Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kepolisian Indonesia akan mengambil tindakan hukum yang tegas dan tepat serta mendapatkan pengembalian kerugian negara yang hilang akibat kerusakan ekosistem di areal KEL sesuai dengan peraturan dan perundangan yang berlaku.
Untuk informasi lebih lanjut, silahkan hubungi:
Chandra Kirana
Ketua Tim Kerja Komunikasi dan Pelibatan Para Pihak



PHOTO Credit: Carlos Quiles on flickr.

Leave a Reply

  1. An orangutan rescue was taking place in the Tripa peatswamp forest while I wrote this post. The following notice arrived by email:

    Wild Orangutan rescue taking place in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest – RIGHT NOW!
    [TRIPA – Aceh Province – Sumatra – INDONESIA]

    A specialist team including orangutan vets and government staff, made up of members of SOCP (Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program) YEL (Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari) and BKSDA (Nature and Natural resource conservation agency of Indonesian Government) has just left the Tripa base camp (1000am 18/04/12) in two 4wd vehicles, and is heading into the forest to rescue and relocate an Orangutan who is trapped in a small pocket of protected forest surrounded by encroaching palm oil plantations.

    The adult male orangutan has been identified as at high risk by the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest Field Team. The 1 hectare area he has been trapped in over the last months in no longer has the food to support his existence. For his immediate safety and survival he needs to be relocated to a larger forest area that can support his existence.

    Relocating this orangutan is a last resort. There is always dangers involved when attempting to sedate and relocate which the specialist and experienced team will be working to minimize throughout the day. The palm oil companies are operating illegally in the area and need to immediately stop destroying the protected forests before the habitat and food source for the orangutans is completely gone.

  2. Maybe the rescued orangutan should be named ‘Jens’, in order to honour the role of the Norwegian government in supporting REDD in Indonesia, and as a symbol of how, despite REDD, the threats to Indonesia’s forest ecosystems, especially from the palm oil companies, are still very real…

  3. @TreeFellas (#3) – I think you’re probably right. While the investigation may not have happened without REDD, it still may be too little too late. In a press release about the orangutan rescue Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme points out that:

    “The Tripa peat swamp forest supports the highest density of orangutans anywhere on earth, but is still being cleared by palm oil companies who think they are beyond the reach of the law. The situation is urgent and requires action, not words, to save Tripa’s remaining orangutans.”

  4. I was going to say that Redd may be relevant in emergency cases such as this, but if they have it implemented and it’s not working, then..

  5. In this case, I suppose, there’d have to be a reverse kind of REDD where the forest is offlimits to people who use it for palm oil..or has that already been put into place?