September 17, 2019

WWF company, govt deliver stances on sealed concession

JAKARTA ( - WWF Indonesia company PT ABT, whose concession was sealed by the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry because of forest and land fires, as previously reported by (Sep 14), has confirmed that it has never received an official notification regarding the sealing from the authorities.

“Based on the results of coordination and verification with the ministry's law enforcement team with regard to reports of fires in the PT ABT concession, the boarding and taping off of the area is intended to secure it for further investigation, and is not a sealing operation," PT ABT President Director Dody Rukman explained in writing (Sep 16).   

In response to this statement, the Ministry's Director of Law Enforcement and Forest Protection Sustyo Iriyono said, "PT ABT shouldn’t comment too much, and just follow the ongoing law enforcement process. The ministry is working based on the ground evidence discovered as well as other relevant legal evidence.”

The sealing of the concession, the authorities continued, did not need to be reported to PT ABT because it is part of the law enforcement process.

“In reference to the legal facts, the concession has been sealed,” he added while showing additional photos, as seen below, of evidence of land and forest fires in the WWF concession.

The WWF company argues that it has worked hard to overcome the risk of fires caused by illegal encroachment and land clearing, as well as potential fires due to the effects of a prolonged dry season.

“We are taking protective measures in the area, such as the destruction of illegal logging roads, and are conducting patrols as well as monitoring with the relevant authorities,” Rukman explained.

He added that the WWF company has detected fires burning over the past few months and made attempts to extinguish them, in addition to assisting local communities in the concession’s vicinity to prevent the spread of fire risks.

However, forestry authorities emphasized that "ground-based evidence demonstrates that there are burnt areas in the PT ABT concession, which means the company was unable to secure and maintain the concession area with adequate human resources and infrastructure standards.”

The authorities also stressed that a field verification has been carried out on forest and land fires in the PT ABT concession and that this formed the basis for sealing the concession, as partly depicted in the following additional ground-based evidence.

In the last part of its response, the WWF company said that it welcomes the securing of the area by taping it off in order to facilitate the investigation process and uncover the causes, motives and perpetrators of the fires.

The Indonesian forestry authorities, meanwhile, reaffirmed that the legal process underway against the WWF concession is due to violations in the implementation of its obligations, as stated in the ecosystem restoration permit granted to it.

“In accordance with the procedural law, this will later be examined and proven in court,” the authorities asserted.