Jakarta, March 30th, 2012
In response to the much publicised devastating fires and orangutan tragedy currently unfolding in the Tripa Peat Swamps, The Coalition Team to Save the Tripa Swamps (TKPRT), their partners, and supporters around the world have launched a global online petition asking that Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyo, support legal action against those accountable for the illegal destruction of the UNEP/UNESCO recognized and legally protected Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh, Indonesia.
The petition will be delivered to:
The President of the Republic of Indonesia (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), Head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force (Kuntoro Mangkusubroto), Chairman of the REDD+ task force working group (Mas Ahmad Santosa), Norway’s Ambassador to Indonesia (Ambassador Homme), Head of the Indonesian National Police (Jenderal [Pol] Timur Pradopo), Minister of Forestry (Zulkifly Hasan), Minister for Foreign Affairs (Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa), Minister of Agriculture (Dr. Ir. H. Suswono, MMA).
A legal case is currently ongoing in the administrative court in Banda Aceh, contesting the legality of a plantation concession permit issued to PT. Kallista Alam by the then Governor of Aceh, as it contravenes the National Spatial Plan issued in 2008, in which the entire Leuser Ecosystem, of which Tripa is an integral part, is a designated National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection. The final ruling in the case is due on April 3rd.
Hadi Daryanto, secretary-general of the Ministry of Forestry, told the Jakarta Post that this permit should not have been issued under the terms of a Moratorium on New Permits in Primary Forests and Peatlands, issued by President Yudhoyono in May 2011 : “It’s clearly a violation because the area in question is a peat forest. On the moratorium map it’s clearly marked out as protected, but in the revision that followed, it was somehow excluded. That exclusion in itself is also a violation because it occurred after the moratorium went into effect.”
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the chairman of Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force, also gave this critical response to Reuters on hearing of the case :
"While we recognise the need for the palm oil industry to also grow, signing an agreement with a palm oil company to allow the conversion of protected peatland into palm oil plantations, very clearly breaks the moratorium.”
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself stated in 2011 that he would : “dedicate the last three years of my term as President to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia”.
A failure of Indonesia’s legal system in such an obviously clear-cut case, would represent a major global embarrassment for the country, not to mention its international partners, in its failure to fulfil its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
Furthermore, all last week numerous huge fires, deliberately and illegally lit by oil palm companies, swept through a significant area of the remaining peat swamp forests of Tripa.
Clearing peatlands using fire is highly illegal. Clearing forests containing Endangered species (HCVF1 category forests) also contravenes the Indonesian palm oil industry’s own legally required standards (ISPO) and unless immediate action is taken to halt and reverse the current wave of illegal destruction, Tripa’s population of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), could be extinct in a matter of months, even weeks if a prolonged dry spell were to set in. The strongest possible action must be taken against the companies responsible for the crisis, who are acting as if they think that they can break the law with impunity.
The Tripa peat swamp forests in Aceh have long been recognized as a UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership Priority Site for Great Ape Conservation, and in the early 90's these peat swamp forests are estimated to have contained between 2,000 and 3,000 Sumatran orangutans. But today, only a few hundred survive, and a tipping point has now been reached where just one more serious and uncontrolled fire event could easily wipe out the remaining survivors, and all other wildlife species in these forests, many of them also Endangered and legally protected under Indonesian law. Furthermore, these peat swamps are also critically important to both the local and even international human community, since they serve many vital environmental and ecological functions, such as providing food resources, regulating water supplies and limiting floods and droughts, and since they store huge quantities of carbon,
mitigating climate change. The continuing destruction of Tripa will further exacerbate chronic flooding and droughts, and cause massive carbon emissions from the exposed peat for many decades to come. We ask for your support in expressing your outrage at these events by joining the following online petition:
1. Deddy Ratih, Walhi / Friends of the Earth Indonesia; Mobile: +62-81250807757, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace/Forest Political Campaigner; Mobile: +62-812 2616 1759,Email: email@example.com
3. Ian Singleton, Ph.D, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme/Director of Conservation; Mobile: +62811650491, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Graham Usher, Landscape protection specialist: +6287766008476, Email: email@example.com
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