Minister presents photos of peat violations in palm oil concession

(foresthints.news) - A palm oil company under the control of the Ciliandry Angky Abadi (CAA) group, PT AGL, has been found to be carrying out extensive new peat development, mainly involving clearing forested peatlands and canal constructions, according to an on-the-ground inspection.

These peat violation practices, which are taking place in Central Kalimantan’s Pulang Pisau regency - one of four peat restoration priority regencies - have been exposed by Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya (Jul 17).

“Law enforcement measures are being taken against the peat violations committed by the palm oil company seeing that they clearly contravene the newly-revised peat regulation signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year,” the minister explained.

The exposure of these practices is a concrete example of the minister's promise - as previously reported by foresthints.news (Jul 10) - to take law enforcement measures on the ground level against any peat violations conducted by PT AGL.

Minister Siti Nurbaya presented the following photos of the clearing of forested peatlands in the CAA palm oil concession during May and June 2017. This whole concession is part of the habitat of the critically endangered Bornean orangutan.

Good peat governance essential

The Environment and Forestry Minister pointed out that President Joko Widodo constantly emphasizes the need for concerted and consistent efforts to implement good peat governance practices.

“Monitoring and law enforcement measures form part of the actions aimed at supporting consistency in ensuring that good peat governance practices are being applied on the ground level,” the minister affirmed.

On various occasions, the minister added, President Joko Widodo has sought to remind her to continue monitoring efforts on the ground level and to keep taking law enforcement action against peat violations.

The two additional photos below, which were also presented by the minister, demonstrate field-based evidence of the level of new peat development conducted in the CAA concession, encompassing the Bornean orangutan’s habitat.

“Peat violations are still ongoing in several provinces. However, sooner or later, law enforcement actions will reach those companies,” Minister Siti Nurbaya warned sternly.

229 palm oil companies

The ministry officially handed over an overlaid peat ecosystem map involving each of the palm oil concessions to representatives from 229 companies (Jul 17) so that they can prepare peat ecosystem recovery plans in their respective concessions within 14 working days of the map's submission to these companies.

The map contains peat protection and utilization zones spread among their concessions.

One of the key concerns raised by some company representatives in discussions at the map handover event pertained to the determination of the distribution of compliance points for the 0.4 meter peat water level, given that maintaining this water level is a legal obligation that must be observed by palm oil companies.

Another concern is that the companies proposed the need for further consultation with the ministry in determining the distribution of these peat water level compliance points, including the possibility for conducting joint verification of the peat ecosystem map and its zonations which affect their concessions.

The ministry reiterated that palm companies are welcome to submit all relevant data related to peat in their concessions, but there should be no delay in the 14 working days they have been given to submit their peat recovery plans after receiving the map from the ministry.

Since 2015's peat fires which caused Indonesia huge economic losses of at least USD 16.1 billion, President Joko Widodo has repeatedly warned against the recurrence of such catastrophic fires in the coming years.

One of the tangible efforts undertaken by the President has been to ensure the implementation of various measures to create good peat governance practices, as evident in his signing of the newly-revised peat government regulation in early December last year.