December 10, 2018

Govt considers sanctioning WWF-controlled company

JAKARTA ( - Indonesian forestry authorities have completed various performance evaluations, including of PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT), a WWF Indonesia-controlled company granted an ecosystem restoration permit in July 2015 covering an area equivalent to more than 38 thousand soccer fields.

The concession, which consists of two blocks situated in Jambi’s Tebo regency on the island of Sumatra, lies directly adjacent to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park and thus serves as an important part of this national park's buffer zones.

The performance evaluation resulted in a cautionary letter from Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya sent to PT ABT stating that she is considering imposing a sanction on the company due to its failure to comply with its legal obligations.

The letter was signed by the Ministry’s Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono (Dec 3) on behalf of the minister who is currently still attending COP24-Katowice in Poland.

“The letter not only details the violations of legal obligations on the part of PT ABT, but also instructs the company to fulfill these legal requirements,” Hendroyono (Dec 7) explained at the ministry building.

The Planet Explorer images below, provided by the ministry, show the land cover situation in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (delineated in purple) from 2016-2018 on certain dates, along with the PT ABT concession (delineated in yellow).

“It has been proven on the ground that major parts of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park still consist of good forest cover, but the pressure being put on this national park through its buffer zones is continually increasing, including by access to the park via the PT ABT concession,” said Hendroyono. 

Work plans not completed

The letter declares that in PT ABT’s 10-year work plan (2017-2026), the scope of its activity plans has not yet accommodated all of the concession’s working areas, including its second block which should act as a buffer zone to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

Furthermore, according to the letter, the WWF-controlled company has also failed to complete its 2017 and 2018 annual work plans which are supposed to serve as the basis of implementing its operations.

“As a result of this, the annual targets which PT ABT should have met in 2017 and 2018, as part of its 10-year work plan, have clearly not been achieved. This represents one of our minister’s key concerns,” the secretary general asserted.

The following Planet Explorer images portray the land cover changes in the second block of the PT ABT concession, equivalent in size to more than 16 thousand soccer fields, which has yet to be incorporated into the company’s 10-year work plan.

The evidence seen in the above images has been legally exacerbated by the absence of the company’s 2017 and 2018 annual work plans. According to IUCN data, the PT ABT concession forms part of the habitat of the critically-endangered Sumatran tiger and elephant. 

PT ABT, the secretary general added, is certainly aware that the ecosystem restoration permit granted to it, which was meant to function as a buffer zone to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, is legally in effect.

“However, this objective (of acting as a buffer zone) has obviously been hard to achieve effectively seeing that PT ABT has yet to revise its 10-year work plan and hasn’t completed its annual work plans.”

With respect to the letter, requested PT ABT’s management opinion (Dec 6), yet by the deadline given no response from the company’s representatives had been forthcoming.