Jakarta, May 21st 2014. The next Indonesian leader must demonstrate a stronger commitment to save forests and peat land as well as guarantee indigenous people and local communities’ rights and livelihood, urged Civil Society Coalition to Save Indonesian Forests and the Global Climate in their Press Conference at Puri Denpasar Hotel, Jakarta, on May 21st 2014 in the commemoration of 3 years implementation of forest moratorium policy.
To optimize forests and peat land governance reform, the Coalition insists that the next throne must close many leakages in the forest moratorium policy, which still render destruction of natural forests and peat land legal. The Government must also strengthen oversight and law enforcement, and revisit development policies that threaten the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, such as the Master plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI).
The Coalition expresses disappointment because moratorium policy that is supposed to delay issuance of new licenses and improve governance of primary natural forests and peat land has not yet been able to fully protect natural forests and peat land, despite its impending end of implementation next year. The government has not yet demonstrated genuine willingness to save the remaining Indonesian natural forests and peat land and instead is taking advantage of various legal gaps in the policy, which does not have any legal force because it is only a Presidential Instruction.
“In 2014, we have seen a massive wildfire on peat land that the moratorium should have prevented” Teguh Surya, Greenpeace Forest Political Campaigner said. “Until February 2014, extensive peat fires had occurred in Riau Province, which 38.02% of fire spots are located within the moratorium map rev 5.” This reflects trivial concern of the Government regarding forests and peat land protection even though it is clearly obligated by law that the Government and concession holders must protect forests and prevent forests and peat fires in their concession areas.
In addition to wildfire, Indonesian forests are also threatened by massive change of forest function and forest area relinquishment in many provinces and districts to facilitate mega projects, which put indigenous people and local communities’ rights in danger. “Exceptions in the moratorium policy are being misused for the interests of large scale plantation projects,” Franky Samperante from Pusaka Foundation said. “In the case of MIFEE in Merauke District, primary forest, swamp forest and savanna, living space and home of Marind indigenous people have been grabbed, annexed, and converted into agro-industrial development and large scale plantation reaching the size of 1.553.462 hectares, disguised in the name of food and energy security.”
Papua Barat forests are also under threat. In 2013, Provincial Government of West Papua had suggested a revision on Provincial Spatial Plan (RTRWP) in order to relinquish forest area of 952.683 hectares as well as change function of forest area of 874.914 hectares, a fantastic number that will aggravate deforestation rate in Indonesia.
Abu Meridian from Forest Watch Indonesia added that, “Not only West Papua, Aru Islands that belong to the category of small islands are also endangered by the plan to convert forest area into non-forest area for sugarcane plantation development, which is still allowed by the Presidential Instruction.” Although the plan had been cancelled verbally by the Minister of Forestry, the threat still exists due to a plan to open palm oil plantation by PT Nusa Ina.”
Meanwhile, in Central Sulawesi, the location UN-REDD pilot province, moratorium seems to be paralyzed. According to Azmi Sirajuddin from Merah Putih Foundation in Palu, head of districts continue issuing plantation and mining concessions despite the Presidential Instruction. “Since the Instruction was first issued in 2011, mining concessions in forest area increased from 279 covering the size of more than 900,000 hectares to 443 in 2014 with the size of 1.3 million hectares.”
Moratorium bows its head to the interests of large scale business. “Instead of denying concessions and revising the Regional Spatial Plan according to the moratorium map, the Government continues compromising it to smoothen issuance of large-scale concessions in Central Kalimantan,” said Ode Rakhman from WALHI.
“During the period of moratorium implementation in Central Kalimantan, that now holds the status of being a REDD+ Pioneer Province, 12 new concessions were issued within the moratorium area. It can be more due to weak control and lack of transparency in license issuance,” said Arie Rompas, the Director of Walhi Central Kalimantan. “The Head of District of Kotawaringin Barat clearly violated the moratorium by issuing licenses to PT ASMR on peat land in the area of Tanjung Puting National Park after the Presidential Instruction was issued. Without law enforcement and the end of moratorium next year, you can imagine impending forest destruction in Central Kalimantan,” he added.
The Coalition views that the central and regional government still try to convert natural forests using the mechanism of Spatial Planning revision that change forest function and relinquish forest area in the name of implementing MP3EI. “MP3EI is the main driver of Indonesia’s deforestation today and in the future. The plan clearly contradicts the President’s goal to save forests and is likely to increase the number of conflicts in Indonesia, that are still largely unresolved,” he added.
With regards to forestry conflict resolution, the Government seems very slow in responding to the interests of indigenous people and local communities whose rights are violated. “Forestry conflicts will never be resolved while forests ownership and control is still very unequal. Communities only legally control less than 2% of forests while large scale concessions control more than 98%. Therefore, the Government must review all concessions that overlap with communities’ land and management area,” said Henky Satrio from AMAN.
The Coalition also demands immediate ratification of the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples Rights Bill and operationalization of the Constitutional Court No. 35 that recognizes customary forests as being owned by indigenous peoples, the process of which is very sluggish. “The Government must immediately sign into law the Umbrella Act to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and also legally recognize customary forests as the first step to restore indigenous people’s rights to forest,” he added.
Meanwhile, Anggalia Putri from HuMa added that the acceleration of forest estate gazettement must be used as a momentum to resolve forestry conflicts and restoration of indigenous peoples and local community’s rights. “The Minister of Forestry that insists to gazette 60% of forest estates that are still laden with conflicts threatens the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities so the plan must be canceled,” she urged. [END]
1. Anggalia Putri, HuMa (08562118997)
2. Teguh Surya, Greenpeace (081915191979), firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Henky Satrio, AMAN (081225225480), email@example.com
4. Abu Meridian, FWI (085715766732), firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Franky Samperante, Yayasan Pusaka (081317286019), email@example.com
6. Azmi Sirajuddin, Yayasan Merah Putih Palu (081245038678), firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Ode Rakhman, WALHI (087846777631), email@example.com
8. Arie Rompas, WALHI Kalteng (081388446422), firstname.lastname@example.org