Aceh Deputy Governor lauds new moves taken to protect Leuser Ecosystem

(foresthints.news) - Muzakir Manaf, Deputy Governor of Aceh, has given a very positive response to the issuance of a radiogram dated 14 June 2016 from the Minister of the Environment and Forestry requesting that the Governor of Aceh shut down all land-clearing operations for the expansion of plantations, including palm oil plantations located within the Leuser Ecosystem.

The Deputy Governor also stated that the circular letter from the head of the Aceh forestry office, issued on behalf of the Governor of Aceh on 17 June 2016 as a follow up to the radiogram, was also the right move.

The circular letter in question was addressed to all holders of HGU (Land Cultivation Rights) permits/plantation permits in the Leuser Ecosystem, demanding that they stop all land-clearing operations while awaiting the issuance and nationwide enforcement of a presidential instruction on the palm oil plantation and mining expansion moratorium.

“The distribution of this circular letter means that on-the-ground monitoring can be conducted and action can be taken on a parallel basis against companies in breach of the rules. This is a good thing. I fully support this circular,” Muzakir told foresthints.news on Sunday night (Jun 19) during discussions held in Jakarta facilitated by Greenomics Indonesia.

The Deputy Governor praised the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, for sending the radiogram which then led to the issuance of the circular letter.  

“Without this circular letter, it would be difficult in a legal sense to execute the termination of land-clearing being carried out by companies whose concessions lie in the Leuser Ecosystem,” Muzakir explained.

Rigorous field inspections, he added, could now be made using the circular letter as a legal basis. The Deputy Governor was also enthusiastic that the circular letter had been forwarded to all regents/mayors as well as all heads of forestry and plantation offices in every regency/city whose jurisdiction falls within the Leuser Ecosystem.

“We really expect this circular letter to make our efforts in the field much more effective. I’m giving my full backing to achieving this.”

During the discussions which took place on Sunday night, Muzakir also had the opportunity to watch a video portraying land-clearing operations being conducted by PT ABN in the Leuser Ecosystem. This video is the product of joint monitoring performed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry and Greenomics Indonesia.

PT ABN has continued its land-clearing operations in spite of the declaration of a moratorium on palm oil and mining expansion in the Leuser Ecosystem on 19 April 2016.

This declaration was made in reaction to the announcement by President Joko Widodo in mid-April in which he gave a directive for such a moratorium to be imposed.

Using International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) data, the spatial analysis conducted by Greenomics Indonesia demonstrate that PT ABN's palm oil concession in the Leuser Ecosystem represents a habitat for the region’s remaining Sumatran elephants.

Furthermore, a preliminary field assessment performed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry revealed that approximately 22 elephants can be found within PT ABN's concession.

The Leuser Ecosystem is home to critically endangered species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos, all of which live together in this one ecosystem. In fact, the Leuser Ecosystem is the only place on earth where all these species coexist.



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