Decision on LiDAR mapping locations made solely by peat agency
JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - In two meetings of inter-related government institutions held in late June and mid-July last year, Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency Chief Nazir Foead stated that the agency’s LiDAR mapping could be used to the point where the accuracy of its data clashed with that of the companies concerned, at which stage it would be known which set of data was more precise.
Directions to that effect were clearly written in the minutes of these two meetings which were obtained by foresthints.news. The peat agency chief consistently spoke about this issue in the two meetings.
With reference to these directions, the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping should also have incorporated the locations of those concessions which had already been LiDAR mapped by the companies, thereby allowing for the accuracy of the two sets of data involved to be contrasted.
As it turns out, forestry concessions burned as a result of 2015’s peat fires, including both those already LiDAR mapped as well as those yet to be LiDAR mapped by the companies, did not form any part of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.
How is it possible then for the peat agency to have compared the accuracy of its LiDAR data with, for example, the LiDAR data of pulpwood concessions under the control of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), given that the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping did not extend to the APP concessions in South Sumatra province which were so extensively burned due to 2015’s peat fires?
What’s more, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Jun 20), the peat agency actually made a 180 degree turn by declaring that those concessions already LiDAR mapped by the companies, in this case APP’s concessions, were no longer a target of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.
What this means, therefore, is that there could be no contrasting of the accuracy of the peat agency’s LiDAR data with APP’s LiDAR data, for example, because the peat agency decided not to conduct LiDAR mapping of APP’s pulpwood concessions as this had already been done by APP prior to 2015’s peat fires.
It should be stressed, however, that APP’s LiDAR mapping only used a sampling/stripping method rather than a comprehensive one.
The following are photos from a palm concession (PT DGS) - located nearby an APP concession (PT BMH) in South Sumatra’s OKI regency - whose peat was burned in 2015’s peat fires yet was not included in the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.
As a result of this, while the burned peatlands from 2015 in the PT DGS concession were incorporated into the peat agency’s indicative targeted peat restoration map, new planting of these burned peatlands by the company went completely undetected by the peat agency.
No agreement whatsoever
Meanwhile, top officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry have confirmed that the ministry never made any kind of agreement with the peat agency concerning the determination of locations for LiDAR mapping.
“There was no agreement whatsoever, either written or verbal, about the locations of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping,” Bambang Hendroyono, the Ministry’s Secretary General, asserted to foresthints.news (June 16).
He went on to say that all the documents related to this, including minutes of meetings, had been checked, and they showed absolutely no indication of any agreement with the peat agency regarding locations for LiDAR mapping.
“All the authorized officials in our ministry have also stated that they never made any agreement on locations for the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping, either verbally or in writing, with the peat agency,” the secretary general reiterated.
Indeed, the ministry’s secretary general said that he was surprised, almost disbelieving, when he found out that forestry concessions severely burned in 2015’s peat fires had apparently been excluded from the locations of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.
“Our letter to the peat agency (Jun 12) clearly stated that forestry concessions extensively afflicted by 2015’s peat fires had not been covered by the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping,” he pointed out.
Moreover, in this letter, the ministry also stated that the peat agency had played no role in terms of technical contributions, based on the LiDAR mapping, in the process of revising the 10-year work plans of 99 pulpwood companies, particularly those included in the peat agency’s indicative targeted peat restoration map.
Peat Agency Chief Nazir Foead told foresthints.news (Jun 19) that in the July 2016 meeting, the technical mapping team he formed, whose members included ministry officials, recommended four peat hydrological units (KHG) as areas of interest for the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping. These areas did not include forestry concessions hit by 2015’s peat fires.
“This technical mapping team provided input, while the peat agency took the decisions,” he explained.
However, the ministry denies that the recommendation of these areas of interest involved ministry officials, re-emphasizing that no agreement whatsoever existed with the peat agency about locations for the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.
This denial is reinforced by the fact that no agreement on locations of areas of interest for the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping appears in the minutes of the meeting held last July.
If these areas of interest for the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping were indeed recommended or decided in July 2016, this raises further questions considering that the indicative peat restoration map had not been released at the time. In fact, the indicative map was only published, both legally and officially, in mid-September 2016.
Level of awareness uncertain
As also previously reported by foresthints.news (Jun 17), in early March this year, the peat agency announced that it had completed its LiDAR mapping encompassing 718,000 hectares, and would be using the data yielded to provide input to the ministry with respect to technical aspects of peat restoration in forestry concessions.
It remains a question as to what extent Peat Agency Chief Nazir Foead was aware that the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping did not actually cover forestry concessions seriously burned as a consequence of 2015’s widespread fires.
For example, why was he so forthcoming by announcing to the media that the results of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping would be used as input material for the ministry for the purpose of peat restoration in forestry concessions, when those concessions ravaged by 2015’s fires were not even covered by the mapping.
Given the peat agency’s inadequate LiDAR mapping coverage, it comes as no surprise that in fact no LiDAR data-based input at all was given by the agency to the ministry, most notably for the revision process of the 10-year work plans of those pulpwood companies which suffered extensive burning in 2015’s peat fires.