June 1, 2018

Investigation provides Bornean orangutan landscape update

JAKARTA ( - In an effort to keep up its monitoring of events in Indonesian Borneo’s orangutan-rich Sungai Putri landscape, presents in this news report a new update on the PT MPK logging concession, which makes up a major element of this landscape, considering that most of the concession still consists of relatively intact peat forests.

As previously reported by (Apr 6), ground-based evidence in the form of the construction of an operational office was found in the logging concession, an area more than half the size of Singapore situated in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency. 

Now, new evidence derived from a recent on-site investigation by the team (May 26) reveals that the building of this operational office has been stopped, as seen in the following photos taken from different angles. This was also confirmed by information provided by several PT MPK employees at the concession site. 

Furthermore, a recent ground-based official verification report from the Environment and Forestry Ministry indicates that no new peat forest clearing has taken place in the concession, including no newly-developed canals. In fact, according to the report, a number of canals have been blocked by PT MPK.

The photos below depict the canal blockings which PT MPK had been ordered by the ministry to do as part of the sanction imposed on the company for committing peat violations. 

The on-site monitoring by the team reinforces the findings of the ministry report, in that no new canal development was discovered, in particular that which destroys peat forests as was previously done by the company and which resulted in it being slapped with a sanction.

It should be noted that, if at some point in the future the ministry lifts the sanction on PT MPK, the logging company would of course still not be legally permitted to build new canals, including and especially in utilization zones.

Such a practice is not allowed due to the ban imposed by President Joko Widodo on peatland development through the revised government regulation he signed in early December 2016.  

Relatively intact forests remain 

The team also documented the fact that the PT MPK logging concession is still dominated by relatively intact peat forests.

The ban on the clearing of these peat forests, which are found in the peat protection and utilization zones distributed within the concession, would remain in place even if the sanction against PT MPK were to be removed sometime in the future.   


Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has displayed great consistency in making sure that these peat forests, which are inhabited by the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan, are not cleared by PT MPK and that the company refrains from any new peat drainage.

Without the sanction issued against the logging company, which compelled it to end its destructive operations, the peat forests seen above would unquestionably have been destroyed, mainly through peat forest clearing and new canal development. 

As it stands, by the time this news story was posted, the ministry has yet to lift the sanction against PT MPK, despite the company’s apparent efforts to ensure key aspects of legal compliance. Regular monitoring of this logging company’s operations on the ground needs to be undertaken consistently by relevant stakeholders.

President Joko Widodo's administration has clearly shown its support for protecting peat ecosystems, most notably from any peat drainage which inevitably causes peat to become dry and susceptible to peat fires.