December 3, 2018

Causes of land cover changes in orangutan stronghold discovered

JAKARTA ( - The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has completed its ground-based assessment concerning minor land cover changes in a logging concession (PT MPK) which constitutes a major part of the Sungai Putri landscape, one of the world’s last strongholds of the Bornean orangutan

The Ministry’s Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono confirmed that the minor land cover changes in the concession, which have affected fewer than 4% of its total relatively intact peat forests as earlier reported by (Nov 30), were the result of natural factors.

In order to reach the location to observe the minor land cover changes in a few locations, the Secretary General explained that the ministry’s law enforcement team had used an ultralight trike. This was later followed-up with a ground-based investigation.

“Trees have fallen down in a few parts of the peat forests due to natural factors, such as strong winds and heavy rain, which have caused land cover changes in the logging concession,” said the secretary general at the ministry building (Dec 3). 

“The trees have fallen in a uniform manner from southeast to northwest (315°),” Hendroyono pointed out.  

In essence, he continued, these natural factors have not caused the area's over 1,000 Bornean orangutans to be threatened. On the contrary, it turns out they are still enjoying living within the relatively intact peat forests that make up in excess of 80% of the logging concession.

The secretary general went on to back up these findings by presenting evidence in the form of several photos, as shown below, taken by the ministry’s law enforcement team (Nov 30) in the part of the logging concession - which was granted a permit 10 years ago - where the trees had fallen.  

The trees seen in the photos above, which fell because of natural factors according to the secretary general, remain in the location.    

“We found neither road nor water access leading to the area in which the trees have fallen,” he emphasized.

The following images serve as additional evidence produced by Hendroyono in his presentation in which he explained the ministry’s key findings about the fallen trees in the logging concession, the location of which is in a peat protection zone.

In line with all the evidence presented by the secretary general, which was obtained from the ministry’s comprehensive investigation into this matter, the ministry has come to the conclusion that the minor land cover changes in the PT MPK logging concession are not man-made. 

“This has not happened because of the logging company’s operations and is also not due to illegal logging practices,” he stressed.  

Hendroyono said that these conclusions have already been reported to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya who is currently attending the Global Landscapes Forum event in Bonn, Germany, before heading to COP24-Katowice in Poland.

President Joko Widodo set out a very clear position with regard to preventing any further destruction of peatlands by signing a revised government regulation in early December 2016 which banned the practice of new peat draining

This ban was reinforced in April last year, when Minister Nurbaya imposed a strict sanction on the PT MPK logging company by suspending its operations due to peat violations, such as the construction of new canals