August 14, 2018

Minister sanctions palm oil company in Leuser Ecosystem

( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has decided to impose a strict sanction on PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS-2) - which operates in the Tripa peat swamps, part of the Leuser Ecosystem - specifically to ensure that the palm oil company undertakes peat recovery efforts and refrains from any more peat development for new palm oil plantations in the concession.  

The minister took this decision after she received and reviewed the legally-based documents (Aug 13) resulting from a ground-based investigation and inspection of the palm oil company conducted by the ministry’s law enforcement team.

PT SPS-2 is a subsidiary of Amara Plantation, a palm oil plantation business arm controlled by Indonesian-listed company PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya Tbk (SRTG).

"Today (Aug 13), I have instructed the imposition of a sanction against PT SPS-2 for a number of peat violations that have taken place in its concession," said Minister Nurbaya in the ministry building.

The imposition of this government-compelled sanction, the minister explained, means that the operations of the palm oil company must be prioritized in order to bring them into alignment with legal compliance.

Below are some photos taken during the ministry's ground-based investigation portraying efforts on the part of PT SPS-2 to make way for new palm oil plantations in its concession.

President Joko Widodo’s administration continues to consistently undertake law enforcement measures against companies that are linked to peat violations. In fact, quite a lot companies owned by conglomerates have already been hit with severe sanctions from Minister Nurbaya.

More than just a sanction

In addition to imposing the sanction, Minister Nurbaya reiterated that she will continue to monitor how much effort PT SPS-2 puts into allocating around 5,000 hectares of the remaining peat forests in its concession for conservation purposes.

"This also forms part of the legal compliance that must be fulfilled by PT SPS-2 so that the company's operations become aligned with its obligations, as presented in its legally-approved environmental impact assessment document," she explained.

The minister also warned that it is now very easy to trace out time-series based evidence relating to the level of legal non-compliance from a company such as PT SPS-2 in misusing the legally-established high conservation value (HCV) areas in its concession.

As earlier reported by (Aug 3), significant parts of these legally-established HCV areas - as indicated in the map included in PT SPS-2's environmental impact assessment - have already been converted into palm oil plantations, actions not legally permitted.

Nonetheless, the legally-established HCV areas - parts of which are inhabited by the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan in the Tripa peat swamps - have been turned into palm oil plantations on a massive scale by PT SPS-2, thereby continuing to contribute to the filling of the tanks of TFT and RSPO members until today.