Govt rejects company’s request to resume clearing home of orangutan

(foresthints.news) - In April this year, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya imposed an administrative sanction on logging concession company PT MPK, which included the suspension of its operations, as it was proven to be committing peat violations. Subsequently, in early June, the company filed an objection to this sanction.

The entire logging concession concerned plays host to the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan. When it was granted in mid-2008, the concession - located in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency - measured in excess of 48,000 hectares, while after being delineated its area decreased to 37,000 hectares - still more than half the size of Singapore.

PT MPK appealed to the ministry to review the sanction imposed on it, particularly the suspension of its operations and the demand that it refill all constructed canals.

The ministry responded to the logging company (Aug 3) by firmly rejecting its objection as well as its request for a review of the administrative sanction imposed on it.

The company was hit with the sanction after the ministry conducted a ground inspection, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Mar 29), following which Minister Siti Nurbaya released a statement asserting that the logging concession’s permit would be reviewed.

The following photos show the level of intactness of peat forests which are home to the Bornean orangutan and dominate the logging concession’s land cover. If the logging company were to resume operating, most of these intact peat forests in the concession would be included in its work plan to be cleared.

More severe sanctions await

In its letter of rejection, the ministry clearly stated that the newly-revised government regulation on peat protection and management - which was signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year - explicitly prohibits any new canal development which causes peat to dry.

The ministry went further in the letter, issuing a stern warning that if PT MPK fails to comply with the terms of the administrative sanction already imposed on it - including the suspension of its field operations - the logging company will face even stiffer additional sanctions from the ministry.

The photos below depict peat violations perpetrated by the logging company PT MPK. These actions directly contravene the newly-revised government regulation banning all new peat development.

In fact, on the orders of the President, since early November 2015, a ban on new peat development, in particular the clearing of peatlands and construction of canals, has been enforced by Minister Siti Nurbaya in the wake of 2015’s devastating peat fires which seriously affected Indonesia’s economy, costing the country at least USD16.1 billion according to World Bank calculations.

In the event that the logging company were to resume its field operations, the ministry - in line with the rules of the game in Indonesia’s environmental and forestry regulations - would freeze its permit.

If this happens and the company still fails to fulfil the obligations placed on it during the permit suspension period, then the PT MPK logging concession permit would be revoked altogether.

President Joko Widodo is known to be very tough and uncompromising in his actions against peat violations. The President’s determination in this matter stems from his great concern for ensuring the implementation of improved peat governance over the long term.