Ministry regrets baseless claim about unannounced inspection

(foresthints.news) - A press release posted on the Greenpeace website (Mar 29) claims that an unannounced inspection by the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry of logging concession PT MPK was done to follow up on a report from three NGOs - Greenpeace Indonesia, Wetlands International Indonesia and YIARI.

According to the press release, the report from the three NGOs was submitted to the ministry’s law enforcement directorate general in early March this year. However, the ministry has expressed its surprise and confusion at the claim made in the press release.

“Oh my God! The claim in that press release is completely false. The unannounced inspection of the PT MPK concession by the ministry was not based on a report from our directorate general, nor on a report from the three NGOs,” Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, Director of Oversight Complaints and Administrative Sanctions in Law Enforcement of the ministry, told foresthints.news (Mar 30).

Vivien then went on to question the logic of the Greenpeace claim: “How can we have used the Greenpeace report? The photos in it didn’t even include coordinate points.”

She pointed out that any report from an NGO, or anyone else, received by her directorate general is verified by the relevant staff and then discussed at a formal meeting led by her, before being reported to the director general.

“In fact, the status of the report from the three NGOs never even made it to the verification stage. It was never even discussed internally. Its status was still at the registration stage,” Vivien explained.

She went on to emphasize that notification of the decision to conduct the unannounced inspection of the PT MPK logging concession was only given one day before heading to the location concerned.

Vivien was able to recall the actual sequence of events. “My director general (the Ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General) and I were asked by telephone if we could make some time to participate in the unannounced inspection. However, because we had other important matters that we couldn’t simply abandon, instead we delegated our staff to join the inspection team.”

She added that the inspection team for the surprise inspection was led in person by San Afri Awang, the Ministry’s Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance, in his capacity as chairman of peat restoration monitoring and inspection at the ministry, after being appointed by Minister Siti Nurbaya in early November last year.

The following are photos taken during the unannounced inspection of the PT MPK concession by the ministry. Director General San Afri Awang, who was tasked with leading the inspection, is seen wearing white with a black hat.

Unsubstantiated claim

In the meantime, Director General San Afri Awang expressed his view that the press release posted on the Greenpeace website is merely a hollow claim. The facts show, he continued, that the unannounced inspection of the PT MPK concession performed by the ministry was clearly in no way a follow up to the report compiled by Greenpeace and the other two NGOs.

“I have absolutely no knowledge of the report on PT MPK. Indeed, I’ve never even seen it or met with them to discuss any such report. The statement in the press release is really just an empty claim,” he told foresthints.news (Mar 30).

San Afri added that since the release of a set of ministerial decrees and regulations in February this year, to facilitate the implementation of the revised government regulation on peat protection signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year, 100 maps forming the basis of the revision of the 10-year work plans of pulpwood companies have been completed.

Given that this process has been finalized and the maps already submitted to the 100 pulpwood companies, he continued, the ministry has shifted its focus to logging companies, concentrating on those companies which use two silviculture systems that involve land clearing and selective logging.

One of these logging concessions is PT MPK, which has previously announced its plan to clear major parts of forested peatlands in its concession.

San Afri sought to underline how groundless the claim made in the press release is. “The unannounced inspection in question was aimed at preventing PT MPK from clearing the forested peatlands which make up a significant portion of its concession. The inspection had nothing to do with the Greenpeace report.”

When asked for a clarification (31 Mar) about the statement in its press release which read: “We appreciate the swift action taken by the ministry in following up on the report", Ratri Kusumohartono, Greenpeace Indonesia spokesperson, replied that this statement was not intended to sound like Greenpeace was claiming credit for the unannounced inspection.

Nonetheless, the use of the words "action taken by the ministry in following up on the report" gave rise to disappointment on the part of the ministry, considering that the statement does indeed come across strongly as a baseless claim from Greenpeace.

Real origin of data

Meanwhile, Rasio "Roy" Ridho Sani, the Ministry's Director General of Law Enforcement, talking about the press release, confirmed that the unannounced inspection was not based on any data or report from his own directorate general, nor from any report submitted by the three NGOs.

"All the relevant data derived from the Forestry Planology Directorate General. The report from Greenpeace and two other NGOs was never even discussed in my directorate general, and nor was it ever reported to our minister. The claim that the PT MPK inspection was undertaken to follow up on the report from the NGOs is simply not true. It is completely baseless," Roy explained to foresthints.news (March 31).