July 10, 2016

VIDEO: Swift action by minister in Leuser Ecosystem saves 22 Sumatran elephants 

( - Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister, Dr Siti Nurbaya, demonstrated her commitment to on-the-ground law enforcement by taking firm action against the company PT ABN on 22 June 2016, sealing off its palm oil concession located within the Leuser Ecosystem, which had been operating without the relevant permits, including an environmental permit.

This move was aimed at protecting the habitat of the Sumatran elephant, at least 22 of which are to be found in the concession concerned, according to a rapid assessment conducted by the ministry several days before the area was sealed off.

The video excerpt, shot on location by the team covering the PT ABN palm oil concession's sealing off process, clearly demonstrates how this process was carried out.

The sealed off palm oil concession is a supplier of mills that in turn supply CPO to two ex-IPOP signatories, Wilmar International and the Musim Mas Group. Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) was officially disbanded recently by its own members, including the two aforementioned companies.

According to the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the disbandment of IPOP was caused by two key drivers, namely the failure and inability of the now ex-IPOP signatories to clean up their supply chains from deforestation and peat conversion, as well as their ongoing desire to expand their palm oil plantations in the long term.

The sealing off of this palm oil concession, which is linked to the supply chain of these two ex-IPOP signatories, represents a concrete manifestation of the review process being carried out on existing palm oil concessions operating in the Leuser Ecosystem in the wake of the declaration of the moratorium on palm oil and mining expansion in the Leuser Ecosystem by the Environment and Forestry Minister and Acehnese leaders on 19 April 2016.

The decision to seal off the concession came after a series of events initiated by the findings of spatial and on-the-ground monitoring conducted by the ministry from early June 2016, in which Greenomics Indonesia also participated.

The findings of this monitoring, in addition to bringing about the sealing off of this concession, led to a radiogram being sent by Minister Siti Nurbaya in mid-June 2016 to the Aceh governor requesting that all land-clearing operations by palm oil companies in the Leuser Ecosystem be terminated.

This, in turn, led to the issuance of a circular letter from the Aceh government asking all plantation companies to put an end their land-clearing operations in the Leuser Ecosystem.

“The monitoring of the implementation of the palm oil expansion in the Leuser Ecosystem must be carried out in an effective manner, especially after the issuance of the circular letter. Law enforcement is just one of the instruments that can be used for ensuring the effectiveness of the moratorium,” the minister told at the end of June 2016 while discussing the issue.