May 7, 2018

Violations by companies in Tripa peat swamps exposed

( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has presented evidence that two palm oil companies, PT Kallista Alam (KA) and PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS-2), have committed recent peat violations in the Tripa peat swamp forest landscape, which forms part of the Leuser Ecosystem on the west coast of Aceh province.

These peat violations consist of new palm oil plantation development, including the construction of canals, in peat protection zones, thereby clearly contravening Indonesia’s new peat regulations.

As a result of this, Minister Nurbaya wrote to Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf (May 2) asking him to exercise his power as governor to impose sanctions, in this case to end these ongoing peat violations.

Minister Nurbaya revealed the peat violations carried out by the two palm oil companies during a presentation on the ministry team's findings, held in the ministry building, with regard to the current peat protection situation, particularly in the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve and the Tripa peat swamp forest landscape (May 2).

Below are photos which, according to the minister, confirm that PT Kallista Alam has been exploiting burned peatland for new palm oil planting as well as constructing canals, thus fragmenting the remaining Tripa peat swamp forests, home to the world’s densest population of the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan.

“This evidence of peat violations committed by PT Kallista Alam is very important to the ministry, especially when it comes to the ongoing peat fire case involving this palm oil company a few years ago,” the minister pointed out.

In attendance at the minister's presentation, among other top ministry officials, was Rasio "Roy" Ridho Sani, the law enforcement director general, who said, “This provides us with a strong legal opportunity to prosecute PT Kallista Alam.”

More evidence 

The other palm oil company implicated in peat violations by Minister Nurbaya is PT SPS-2. This palm oil company has also been shown to have undertaken new palm oil planting in its concession situated in parts of the peat protection zones.

When the ministry team performed a ground-level observation of the site, company employees said that the planted oil palms were about two months old. Evidence of peat violations perpetrated by PT SPS-2 is seen in the following photos produced by the Environment and Forestry Ministry: 

According to the minister, the peat violations are not only happening in a national-level peat protection zone, given that the same areas were also previously designated as a provincial-level peat protection zone through the Aceh Spatial Plan in the era of former Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah.

Furthermore, this peat protection zone was also incorporated into the Spatial Plan of Nagan Raya regency. In other words, the peat violations committed by the two palm oil companies are taking place in a peat protection zone established at the national, provincial and regency levels.

With particular respect to the peat violations committed by PT SPS-2, data collected by shows that the palm oil supply chains of global players such as Nestle, Unilever, ADM and Mars are linked to this palm oil concession, as are the supply chains of GAR and Wilmar.

All of these prominent palm oil buyers and suppliers are members of The Forest Trust (TFT) which has announced to the international community and global markets that its members’ supply chains would be free of new peat development. Minister Nurbaya, in late January this year, has appealed to companies that have made such commitments to prove their compliance on the ground.