Govt ‘bows down’ to planters, forest moratorium ‘means little’

Protection of the country’s threatened forest areas remains weak despite a moratorium on new conversion permits as most of the forests covered by the moratorium are legally protected anyway, activists and expert argued.

They said terms such as primary and secondary forests used in a presidential decree on the moratorium were kept vague to give concessions to businesses to continue exploiting forests.

Activists said the government had bowed down to pressure from the palm plantation lobbyists.

“There was lots of pressure on the Indonesian government from the palm oil industry about this ban since we bring in significant investments. Today’s final details show that agreeable concessions have been made,” a Malaysian planter, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

Greenpeace activist Yuyun Indradi said the decree would not address deforestation and curb emissions because the primary forests stipulated in the decree were located mostly in areas already protected by law.

“It’s business as usual. Even without the decree, it is impossible to issue conversion permits for protected and conservation forests,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Greenpeace says the moratorium should cover 104.8 million hectares of forests. “With only 64 million hectares [covered by the moratorium], there would be about 39 percent [some 40 million hectares] of forest destroyed,” it said in a statement.

After a five-month delay, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed into decree a moratorium on new permits on Thursday that would cover primary forests and peatland.

The decree allows for several exemptions that have been criticized by activists as proof of the government’s pandering to the plantation industry.

The decree allows the conversion of primary forest for geothermal projects, rice and sugar plantations and ecosystem restoration projects.

Businesses that secured “principal permits” before the decree would be allowed to continue exploiting forests.

The decree also allows the Forestry Ministry to revise a map of protected forest areas every six months.

The program manager for Forest and Climate at the Indonesian Center for Environment Law (ICEL), Giorgio Budi Indrarto, said the decree failed to regulate much-needed law enforcement to address massive forest crimes.

“Yudhoyono lied again not only to the people [through the moratorium] but also to the international community,” he said.

Reuters reported that Norway’s environment ministry declined to comment on the moratorium as officials were still studying the details.

Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) forestry expert Hariadi Kartodiharjo said the decree did not adhere to the government’s goal of reducing deforestation triggered mainly by massive expansion of oil palm plantations and mining.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), however, praised the decree as a positive development in protecting forests.

Industry lobby group the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) also praised the moratorium, as it targets an annual 10 percent increases in “green” palm supplies.

“It is a [positive] step in the right direction that upholds the integrity of sustainable practices towards the production of palm oil, and reaffirms the country’s commitment in this area,” RSPO secretary-general Darrel Webber said in a statement. 

RI Told to Implement Forest Moratorium Before Summit

As leaders of ASEAN countries are set to hold a summit in Jakarta this week, activists renewed calls on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to realize the planned forestry moratorium, which has now been delayed for four months, and encourage his ASEAN counterparts to do the same.

In a theatrical press conference, activist Si Bawor Yono (SBY), who acted as President Yudhoyono, announced the start of the forest moratorium with calling all local administrations to stop issuing new permits to convert primary forests and peatland area.

“I announce the launch of a Pancasila-based forest moratorium today,” Association for Community and Ecology-based Law Reform (Huma) advocate Si Bawor Yono told reporters on Tuesday.

Activists, including from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) joined the calls for President Yudhoyono to issue a presidential instruction to implement the forest moratorium.

The theatrical press conference was held to express frustration over the slow movement of the Yudhoyono administration in executing his forestry moratorium pledge.

“Indonesia needs to use the ASEAN summit to highlight its commitment to protecting forests and cutting emissions,” Greenpeace advocate Yuyun Indradi said.

He said that the ASEAN summit could be used as momentum to demonstrate Indonesia’s commitment to protecting the environment and dealing with climate change.

Yuyun, who represented Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa at the press conference, said that the forest moratorium was intended to support the welfare of all people, including business players.

Leaders of the 10 ASEAN members will participate in the two-day summit starting Saturday in Jakarta.

The leaders are expected to discuss climate change, among other issues, as part of the third pillar of ASEAN social and culture affairs.

Indonesia, with over 120 million hectares of rainforest, is deemed the regional leader in discussions concerning climate change. Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair, is the first nation in region to declare a commitment to slashing 26 percent greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 using local budget funds, and further reducing emissions by 41 percent by 2050 with the assistance of foreign money.

President Yudhoyono promised to impose the forest moratorium last year after Indonesia signed a US$1 billion letter of intent (LoI) with Norway on climate change.

Under the LoI, the forest moratorium should have been imposed since January this year. President Yudhoyono is also expected to issue a presidential instruction as a legal instrument for all local administrations to stop forest conversions.

ICEL deputy director Giorgio Budi Indrarto admitted that it was the forestry ministry that had hampered the President from implementing the commitment to halt forest conversions. “I am sorry, as it is my office [Forestry Ministry] making the mistakes hampering the forest moratorium,” he said.

President Yudhoyono has empowered a taskforce on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD +), led by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, to prepare the moratorium and draft the presidential instruction. 

Activists Claim Antasari Flyover Project Violates By Laws

Activists have threatened to sue the Jakarta administration over alleged environmental and zoning violations during construction of an elevated road in South Jakarta.

Irvan Pulungan, a researcher from the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), said on Monday that the construction of the overpass at Jalan Antasari violated several regulations, including a 1999 spatial planning bylaw.

He said the bylaw, which covered the period 2000 to 2010, made no mention of the elevated road, while the bill for the new spatial plan, which includes the road, had not yet been legislated.

“The new spatial planning bylaw for 2010 to 2030 hasn’t been endorsed yet by the City Council, so the old bylaw must be the reference,” he said at a discussion on the elevated road constructions affecting Antasari and Jalan Casablanca, South Jakarta.

Irvan also said the project did not have an environmental strategic assessment (KLHS), which is mandatory for major infrastructure projects under the 2009 Environmental Protection and Management Law.

He added the project also lacked an environmental impact analysis (Amdal), universally required for public works projects and private businesses.

Ahmad Safrudin, from the Committee Against Leaded Gasoline (KPBB), told the discussion that his group would meet on Thursday with residents, the city administration and officials from the city’s public works, transportation and environmental offices.

“We don’t want to disrupt the project, we just want the city to ensure that this important project is carried out in compliance with the proper procedures and regulations,” Ahmad said.

He added that if after Thursday the administration did not show any intention of complying, the residents would file suit.

“It could be a criminal and a civil suit,” he said.

“We’ve collected the data on the violations that the city has conducted as well as the residents’ complaints.”

Tommy Tamtomo, a resident of Jalan Cipete Raya, near the construction site, said the construction was proving a major disturbance.

“I can’t sleep because the construction is noisy and it also sends dust clouds over our homes and neighborhood,” he said at the discussion.

He said residents had set up a post to accommodate people’s complaints about the construction. Around two weeks ago, however, they were approached by a large crowd who threatened them, he said.

“They warned us [against complaining] and forced us to support the construction of the elevated roads because it was in the public interest,” Tommy said.

He also said there had never been any clear or direct attempt by the city administration to inform residents about the construction.

However, Novizal, head of the bridge unit at the Jakarta Public Works Office, denied the allegations of violations, insisting the city had followed all legal procedures for the construction.

“We’ve acquired the Amdal and the KLHS from the city’s environment agency, so we haven’t violated any regulation,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

He said the city had also informed the residents about the construction.

“We made announcements and also invited people for discussions at the [South Jakarta] mayor’s office,” Novizal said.

The elevated road will connect Blok M to Antasari in South Jakarta, while the one over Casablanca will link Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta to Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta.

The city has budgeted Rp 1.28 trillion and Rp 737 billion ($144.3 million and $88.8 million), respectively, for the first phases of both projects.

The first phase of the Blok M-Antasari bypass will run 5.5 kilometers from Cipete Market to the National Police field.

The first phase of the Tanah Abang-Kampung Melayu route will run 3.5 kilometers from Casablanca to Jalan H. Kyai Mas Mansyur in Tanah Abang.

Elevated roads ‘illegal’, coalition to sue city govt

A coalition of NGOs is threatening to sue the city government for what it deems is an illegal construction of elevated roads in Central and South Jakarta.

Civil Society Coalition to Save Jakarta members said Monday that constructing the elevated roads was violating the present spatial planning bylaw.

“The 1999 bylaw, which currently regulates the city’s spatial planning, makes no mention on elevated roads. The roads might have been planned under the new bylaw on spatial planning, but it has not yet been approved,” said Irvan Pulungan, a member of the coalition and researcher from the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL).

Irvan also said that the city government had failed to conduct a regional strategic environmental assessment (KLHS) and provide the environmental impact analysis (Amdal) document, as mandated by the 2009 Environment Protection and Management and 1999 Amdal laws.

“Therefore, there is no guarantee that the construction will not cause environmental damage or whether efforts have been made to prevent this type of damage,” Irvan said.

The construction work for the elevated roads, which will connect Jl. Pangeran Antasari and Blok M in South Jakarta, and Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta to Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta, started in January and is expected to finish in two years.

The Rp 2.2 trillion (US$250.8 million) roads will straddle a number of areas, which are already known for traffic congestion.

The areas have seen worsening congestion since construction began, with businesses complaining they are losing revenue.

The Antasari-Blok M elevated road will be 4.8 kilometers long and will straddle Jl. Pangeran Antasari, Jl. Prapanca Raya, Jl. Sultan Iskandarsyah and Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin — all in South Jakarta.

The Kampung Melayu-Tanah Abang road will add a 2.3-kilometer strip to the section above Jl. Casablanca and Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio in South Jakarta, and Jl. K.H. Mas Mansyur in Central Jakarta.

Ahmad Safrudin, an environmental activist of the Leaded Gasoline Eradication Committee, said that the city administration had made an irrational move by building the roads.

“Elevated roads mainly facilitate car and motorcycles owners, groups who make the least amount of trips in the city,” Safrudin said.

According to the City-sanctioned Inner City Toll Road feasibility study in 2005, around 67 percent of the trips in the city were made by public transportation.

Agus Pambagio, a member of the Indonesia Transportation Society, said, however, that the coalition would not stand in the way of the construction project.

“After all, the work has already begun. What we want is the city to conduct an environmental impact analysis regarding the project and later, after a public discussion, we want it to revert damage to the environment that has been caused by the project,” Agus said.

Agus also said that the city government had not provided information to the public prior to construction.

“We hope that the administration is willing to listen to the people. But if the city government resists, we have no other option but to file a lawsuit on the city,” Agus said.

Separately on Monday, Novizal, the Public Works Agency’s head of the Bridge Division, claimed that the city government had abided by regulations.

“What we are doing now is legal. We have submitted an Amdal, and the city’s environmental management agency has also issued a KLHS for the project,” Novizal said.

“If there are any parties who want to file a lawsuit against us, go ahead, but this project is perfectly legal,” he said. – See more at:

Moratorium Hanya Lindungi Hutan Primer

JAKARTA, – Draf moratorium penebangan hutan versi Kementerian Kehutanan hanya melindungi hutan primer dan lahan gambut tersisa. Jika merujuk data Kementerian Kehutanan (2006), yang menjadi obyek moratorium hanyalah kawasan konservasi dan kawasan lindung yang selama ini sudah dilindungi peraturan perundangan.

Demikian kesimpulan Greenpeace bersama koalisi organisasi masyarakat sipil yang menerjemahkan draft moratorium (penghentian sementara) penebangan hutan yang saat ini beredar, baik dari versi Kementerian Kehutanan maupun REDD+ Task Force (Satgas REDD+). Draft Moratorium tersebut diuraikan dalam bentuk peta indikatif moratorium dan data olahan yang menunjukkan luasan yang akan dicakup dalam moratorium berdasarkan skenario draft Kementerian Kehutanan, Satgas REDD+, dan Platform Bersama Penyelamatan Hutan dari organisasi masyarakat sipil.

Draft moratorium versi Satgas REDD+ menunjukkan cakupan moratorium yang sedikit lebih luas di banding draft versi Kementerian Kehutanan. Penerjemahan Platform Bersama Penyelamatan Hutan Indonesia dan Iklim Global dari organisasi masyarakat sipil dalam peta dan angka menunjukan cakupan moratorium hutan yang jauh lebih luas.

Penasihat Politik Greenpeace Asia Tenggara, Yuyun Indradi mengemukakan, komitmen dan keseriusan Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono untuk menurunkan emisi sebesar 26% hingga 41%, yang utamanya bersumber dari deforestasi, sedang diuji.

“Jika gagal mewujudkan moratorium yang bisa melindungi hutan dan lahan yang bernilai konservasi tinggi, mempunyai nilai simpanan karbon tinggi, mempunyai nilai sosial dan kultural, artinya Presiden tidak serius dengan komitmen penurunan emisi dari deforestasi. Ini artinya juga Presiden tidak berhasil menjamin hak dasar rakyat Indonesia untuk bisa menikmati lingkungan hidup yang baik dan sehat,” tutur Yuyun Indradi, Rabu (16/2/2011) di Jakarta.

Sementara itu Teguh Surya dari Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) menyatakan, rekomendasi Menteri Kehutanan agar moratorium hanya mencakup hutan primer adalah merupakan rekomendasi yang tidak efektif dalam upaya perlindungan hutan Indonesia.

Giorgio Budi Indarto dari Indonesia Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) mengatakan, dari kacamata hukum, ada kekhawatiran bahwa aturan moratorium itu tidak terimplementasi dengan baik. “Perlu ada restrukturisasi dan perbaikan di bidang hukum. Jika tidak, dikhawatirkan moratorium tidak akan ada artinya,” kata Giorgio

Menurut Teguh, masalah utama dalam moratorium ini adalah Menteri Kehutanan itu sendiri, karena masih berorientasi pada ekonomi kayu. Terkait Peraturan Presiden, kata Teguh, ada tiga langkah yang harus dilakukan. Pertama, di masa ini pemerintah harus menghentikan pengeluaran dan perpanjangan izin. Kedua, harus ada upaya segera penyelamatan hutan-hutan yang paling terancam. Ketiga, penyelesaian masalah-masalah sosial.

“Pemerintah harus memastikan bahwa moratorium bisa benar-benar menyelamatkan hutan. Pemerintah harus sepakat dalam lingkup moratorium, definisi hutan, dan mengkaji izin yang telah ada di kawasan hutan alam dan lahan gambut,” tegas Yuyun.

NGOs Appeal To Govt to Enact Logging Moratorium

More than a month after it was supposed to have enacted a moratorium on new logging concessions, the government has still not complied, prompting environmental groups to demand immediate action.

The two-year moratorium on new concessions in peatland and primary forests is part of a bilateral agreement with Norway, in exchange for which Indonesia will receive $1 billion in funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD-plus) activities.

In order for the moratorium to be legally binding from its Jan. 1 start date, it must be backed by a presidential decree, which has still not been issued.

On Monday, a coalition of environmental and civil society groups urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to hold up Indonesia’s end of the bargain.

“We, the civil society coalition for Indonesian forest protection, appreciate the government’s efforts to take initial action to save the country’s forests,” a statement from the coalition read.

“The plan to issue a presidential decree on a moratorium on new permits in forests and peatland is an appropriate area to start before it’s too late.”

The coalition, which includes the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Greenpeace, the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), warned of dire consequences if the moratorium was not enforced.

“To delay its implementation would mean losing even more of Indonesia’s forests,” it said.

The group also stressed that the decree should include strict instructions to the relevant ministries and organizations regarding their roles in forest management.

Agus Purnomo, a presidential adviser for climate change, said a draft of the decree had already been submitted to Yudhoyono but still needed to undergo a series of legal checks before it could be signed.

“The draft is in the president’s hands but it has to be studied [by a legal team] for consistency with other regulations,” he said.

“There’s a possibility that if it comes up short, it could be returned for revision.”

Agus said the bilateral agreement with Norway would not be affected as a result of the delay in issuing the decree, adding that the promised release of funds to Indonesia was “safe.”

“Whether Norway is getting angry about this, you’d have to ask them,” he said.

“All we’re doing is delaying the implementation of the moratorium, that’s the only impact on our side.”

Giorgio Budi Indarto, from the ICEL, said if the draft was already with Yudhoyono, there should be no reason for the delay.

“What’s taking so long?” he asked.



Hakim Seringkali Abaikan Bukti Ilmiah

Pemahaman dan kemampuan hakim dalam menangani sengketa lingkungan di ditengarai masih minim. Hakim seringkali tidak menerima bukti ilmiah perusakan lingkungan karena dianggap tidak sesuai dengan prinsip pembuktian. Akibatnya, putusan kasus tindak pidana perusakan lingkungan tidak menyelesaikan persoalan.

Demikian disampaikan Prayekti Murharjanti, peneliti hukum lingkungan dari Indonesia Center for Environmental Law (ICEL). Menurutnya, tidak jarang hakim gagal memaknai bukti ilmiah sebagai bukti hukum. Prayekti mencontohkan, dalam salah satu kasus kebakaran hutan yang merambah permukiman warga, hakim menolak argumen saksi bahwa terjadi pembakaran dengan sengaja.

Konsep Strict Liability Belum Pernah Terpakai

Prinsip tanggung jawab mutlak (strict liability) perusahaan dalam kerusakan lingkungan di Indonesia belum pernah terlaksana. Padahal konsep ini sangat baik untuk menjaga keberlangsungan hidup masyarakat yang menjadi korban.

Menurut Prayekti Murharjanti, peneliti hukum lingkungan dari Indonesia Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), sebenarnya ada beberapa kasus kerusakan lingkungan dimana konsep strict liability dapat diterapkan.

Ia merujuk pada penelitian yang dilakukan ICEL dan Van Vollenhoven Institute mengenai kasus sengketa lingkungan. Dari tahun 1989–2009 terdapat puluhan kasus sengketa lingkungan di Indonesia.

After talks stall, a call to push on Timor spill

Talks between Indonesia and foreign company over an oil spill in the Timor Sea are at an impasse. Environmental activists say the government must take radical action to get compensation for damages.

Activists agreed that Indonesia could take legal action against Thai-based oil rig operator PTTEP.

Rhino Subagyo, executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), and Riza Damanik, the secretary-general of the People’s Coalition for Equal Fisheries (Kiara) said that the government should make alternative plans if it wanted get reparations.

“There must be radical measures taken, otherwise the negotiations will only be a waste of time,” Rhino told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Rhino said that the government should not confine negotiations to PTTEP, saying it was crucial to ask the Australian government to pressure the company for a favorable settlement. PTTEP operated under Australian law during the spill.

Rhino said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could take a page from US President Barack Obama’s book in responding to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and use diplomacy to reach out to Australian Prime Minister Julia Girard.

The government needed to set a deadline to resolve the case and ask the Australian government to step up pressure and jump start the talks, he said.

Negotiators from Indonesia and PTTEP met for a fifth time last week in Singapore without concrete results: PTTEP agreed to pay the Indonesian government’s survey and travel expenses.

“PTTEP still needs to conduct surveys to verify data in the field based on the claims from Indonesia,” Indonesian negotiator Masnellyarti Hilman told the Post.

The survey was expected to be held in the first week of February. “We want the result of this survey to be discussed in late February,” she said.

Before the last set of talks, Indonesia was optimistic on reaching an interim agreement that would have provided for an initial compensation payment to help fishermen in the Timor Sea affected by the spill.

Indonesia proposed a US$100 million initial compensation payment, as previously reported.

Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi earlier said that Indonesia claimed financial losses of Rp 22 trillion (US$2.44 billion) due to the spill. PTTEP said Indonesia’s claims were not supported by strong scientific data.

PTTEP Australasia’s oil platform in the Montara field off Australia’s north coast exploded in August 2009. Negotiations on reparations began in July 2010.

Riza said that Kiara had repeatedly proposed three scenarios to the government on negotiations.

“The three [options] are legal actions against PTTEP and Australian government as well as imposing administrative sanctions on PTTEP,” he said.

Australia was a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and was negligent in not acting against the polluting company, he said.

On sanctions, Riza said the government needed to review the concessions given to PTTEP to operate in Indonesian territory.

“The negotiations are proceeding to slowly as if they’re buying time. The longer the delays are, the greater the chance that the ecological footprint of oil spill will disappear,” he said.

Rivers get murkier as more polluters set in

Worsening environmental conditions and a clean water crisis loom as palm oil plantations and mining companies are predicted to increase dumping untreated waste onto rivers, an environmental NGO says. 

The Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) predicted that pollution and environmental damage would increase 50 to 70 percent this year from the 75 recorded incidents of pollution last year.

In its 2011 environmental outlook presented on Wednesday, Walhi said it found that coal and gold mining companies deposited waste into rivers 25 times last year, while palm oil plantations dumped waste 22 times.

“The number could increase 50 percent to 70 percent this year,” Mukri Friatna, head campaigner of Walhi, said on Wednesday.

Walhi said that the waste from palm oil plantations had polluted Aek Sipongi Pining River in North Sumatra, the Kerinci River in Riau and Bamban River in Central Kalimantan, among others.

Waste from coal mining polluted rivers as well, including Batang Hari River in Jambi, Enim River in South Sumatra and Kuranji River in East Kalimantan.

“The main pollutants from extractive industries and oil palm plantations would remain. In addition, waste from hospitals worsens river water quality as well,” he said.

Apart from the extractive-based activities, hospitals are also another serious threat to rivers.

Mukri said that many hospitals, including those in Jakarta, had set up waste treatment facilities but remained ineffective due to poor law enforcement.

The 2008 Law on Waste Management carries a sentence of up to three years’ imprisonment and a Rp 100 million fine for those who fail to manage hazardous waste.

The 2009 Environmental Law also stipulates the minimum sanctions for polluters, but none of the government regulations needed to implement the two laws have been issued yet.

The Environment Ministry planned to start ranking green hospitals based on medical waste treatment from fear that some hospitals have dumped untreated and potentially hazardous medical waste into rivers.

The first ranking of 30 hospitals will be announced later this year.

Hospitals are required to have waste treatment plants and to have environmental impact analysis documents (Amdal) in order to obtain an operating license.

Executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) Rhino Subagyo renewed criticisms of the Environment Ministry for failing to issue the government regulations needed to implement Environmental Law.

“If there are still no government regulations this year, the powerful Environmental Law could not be implemented,” he said.

The environmental outlook of Walhi predicted that conflicts and human rights violations related to tenure rights problems would also increase this year.

Walhi recorded some 79 incidents of tenure conflicts that left three people dead last year.

It said land tenure conflicts would increase most in 11 provinces, including Riau, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Papua and Central Sulawesi.

Deputy head of the National Commission on Human Rights, Nur Kholis said that human rights violations related to natural resource conflicts would be difficult to resolve since the government tended to be more supportive of big companies than local people.

Walhi recorded some 79 incidents of tenure conflicts that left three people dead last year. – See more at: