Govt: Full compliance still required from MPK logging company

(foresthints.news) - The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has confirmed that it has no plans to discontinue law enforcement action against peat violations committed by a logging company (PT MPK), whose concession forms part of the habitat of the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan.

PT MPK was hit with an administrative sanction (Apr 21) after the ministry carried out a ground-based investigation into its concession (Mar 23), which uncovered that the logging company had indeed committed peat violations by carrying out new canal development.

The main parts of the administrative sanction cover the suspension of the company’s operations and the filling in of any newly-constructed canals.

“Nothing has changed. Our ministry continues to require full legal compliance from PT MPK in a consistent manner, due to the administrative sanction imposed on the company,” Rasio “Roy” Ridho Sani, the Ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General, emphasized to foresthints.news (Sep 26) in the ministry building.

The three photos below show the peat violations perpetrated by PT MPK, which took place after President Joko Widodo signed a newly-revised government regulation on peat protection and management in early December last year, effectively banning any new peat development.

Roy also produced evidence of what he had earlier explained in the form of the minutes of a meeting between his team and the president director of PT MPK (Sep 22), during which the need for legal compliance with the administrative sanction was underlined.

“That’s the latest update,” Roy summed up.

At this meeting, PT MPK presented a progress update to the ministry’s law enforcement team, among other things demonstrating that the suspension of its on-the-ground operations was still in effect.

Meanwhile, as to the company’s legal compliance pertaining to the filling in of canals, the progress it has made is still far from what it is expected to deliver.

The director general explained that at the meeting, the ministry made a firm request that PT MPK act seriously in ensuring it remained legally compliant with the administrative sanction issued against it. 

“Let’s just talk about legal rules; if PT MPK fails to show full legal compliance, we will have to impose an even stiffer administrative sanction on it, including both criminal and civil law enforcement measures,” Roy warned.

Targeted peat restoration 

Of the 37,000 hectares which make up PT MPK’s logging concession, only around 218 hectares - or about 0.6% - are incorporated in the targeted indicative map issued by the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) in mid-September last year, and signed by the agency’s chief Nazir Foead.

The vast majority of the PT MPK logging concession still consists of relatively intact peat forests, which were unaffected by 2015’s massive peat fires.

The red-colored area of the map below depicts the locations of the 218 hectares of the concession targeted for peat restoration by the peat agency, according to the agency’s spatial data. Meanwhile, the two Google Earth images (7/21/2015) below illustrate two sections of these 218 hectares.

Even though the peat agency only designated 218 hectares of the PT MPK concession for restoration, the logging concession -  which also planned to clear forested peatlands - remains legally inoperational.

The legal reason underlying this is that Indonesia’s new peat regulations prohibit any new peat development, and particularly new canal development - both in peat protection and cultivation zones - that causes new peat drainage, including in the PT MPK concession.

As such, the company is legally obliged to revise its old 10-year work plan by including within it a peat recovery plan that stipulates “no peat development”, and for this plan to be submitted to and approved by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

When it comes to law enforcement against peat violations, the firmness of President Joko Widodo’s leadership is in no doubt. The President has given his full backing to tackling transgressions of the law on peat protection, in particular to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya.