July 26, 2018

Minister confirms end to peat drainage by two companies

( - A warning letter sent by the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister (Jun 22) to two palm oil companies affiliated to the Salim Group (PT SKL and PT DRM), as reported by (Jun 26), instructing them to stop committing peat violations has resulted in significant progress. 

In fact, both of the palm oil companies concerned recently declared an end to operations associated with new peat drainage in their concessions at the ministry's law enforcement office. 

"My law enforcement director general has reported to me that the president directors of the two palm oil companies in question have declared a halt to their new peat drainage practices. This represents good progress," Minister Siti Nurbaya told at her office (Jul 25).

The minister pointed out, however, that despite the declaration made by the two companies, the ministry's law enforcement team continues to monitor their concessions.

"I have also ordered my authorized director general to ensure that the two palm oil companies immediately submit peat recovery documents to get our approval," she added. 

The following photos, taken by the ministry's law enforcement team, depict the level of new peat drainage operations carried out by both palm oil companies. These operations involve the clearing of peat forests.

Consistent efforts

Minister Nurbaya reiterated that it was especially counterproductive for companies to commit new peat violations as peat governance reform requires consistent efforts, not only from the ministry but also from the corporate sector.

She stressed that the goal of peat-related law enforcement actions is not supposed to be a show of force, but rather an attempt to ensure clear consistency from the government in terms of the peat governance reform process.

"Transformation as a benchmark for peat governance reform obviously requires a sufficient level of consistency. It's my job to make sure that this transformation keeps moving forward consistently," she explained.

President Joko Widodo has consistently backed the efforts his administration has made towards peat protection through peat-related regulatory reform, ever since he signed a revised government regulation in early December 2016 which, most notably, included a ban on new peat development.