Minister decides to review logging permit in Bornean orangutan habitat
JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya has received an investigative report from her team concerning the operations of logging concession PT MPK which include the construction of new canals - despite the issuance of a revised government regulation on peat protection which was signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year.
In fact, the President’s administration, by means of a ministerial circular letter released in November 2015, has banned forestry and plantation companies from undertaking any new peat development, including the construction of new canals.
Since receiving the investigative report, the minister has taken several important measures, including the immediate imposition of sanctions on the company, a review of the logging concession's permit, as well as the preparation of a number of effective options for managing the peatland ecosystem in the logging concession, which also forms part of the habitat of the Bornean orangutan.
At a meeting held at the minister's official residence in Jakarta (Mar 28), she outlined the extent of the new canal construction and made a vociferous appeal for the practice to be ended.
“The total length of canals built by PT MPK in 2016 and early 2017 amounts to 8.1 km of a planned 60 km. Most of these canals were developed in 2016. All of this has to be stopped.”
The meeting was attended by the Ministry’s Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance San Afri Awang as well as the Ministry’s Director General of Law Enforcement Rasio “Roy” Ridho Sani, together with their team. Also present was Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia.
The following video depicts the canals constructed throughout 2016 and into early 2017, as reported by Director General San Afri who was directly in charge of the investigation into the PT MPK logging concession. This concession is located in Ketapang regency, West Kalimantan province.
Having studied all the administrative details along with the facts on the ground, the minister confirmed that there is no legal basis whatsoever for PT MPK's operations with respect to the company's target of developing up to 60 km of new canals.
“As such, PT MPK has been given a government-imposed sanction compelling the company to terminate all its operations, including the restoration of any canals already built by it,” the minister reaffirmed.
These photos below show the new canals constructed in 2016 and early 2017.
Minister Siti Nurbaya also reiterated that she is in the process of reviewing the permit of the PT MPK logging concession, considering that in February this year most of the concession was designated as peat protection zones by a ministerial decree.
“As a legal consequence of the designation of the majority of the PT MPK logging concession as peat protection zones, the permit granted to the company needs to be reviewed,” the minister explained.
The permit for the PT MPK logging concession was granted in mid-2008, allowing for a concession area of more than 48,000 hectares. After boundary marking was carried out in the field (Jul 2016), the area was reduced to 37,000 hectares because part of the concession earmarked as non-state forest areas by the previous government was excluded.
“What we are currently doing involves correcting the regulations and policies of the previous government by emphasizing the reform of peat protection efforts, and most notably relevant law enforcement actions, in a consistent manner,” the minister pointed out.
Bulk of land cover remains good
Minister Siti Nurbaya also highlighted the fact that the bulk of the forested peatlands found in the PT MPK concession are still relatively intact.
The following photos illustrate the good condition of the forested peatlands which make up most of the land cover in the PT MPK logging concession. This area also forms one of the last remaining habitats of the Bornean orangutan.
“The best options with respect to managing the peatland ecosystem in the PT MPK concession are being explored. The purpose of this is to ensure that comprehensive protection is provided to the peatlands there which include the Bornean orangutan habitat.”
The minister went on to echo the uncompromising stance of the Jokowi administration when it comes to peat exploitation. “There is to be no logging and no peat development in this logging concession. The best management options will be announced to the public at a later stage.”
President Joko Widodo has proven to be unwilling to make any compromises with peat violators and has been remarkably consistent in applying the peat regulations and policies put into place by the government.
This reflects the determination of the President’s administration to make sure that peat protection always remains a top priority policy, even and especially when dealing with investments that disregard peat protection efforts.