TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES Palm Oil Plantations Push Unique Orangutan Population to Brink of Extinction
AN EXPOSE BY RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK
Ecological Catastrophe In the Tripa Rainforest of Sumatra
A Â manmade Â inferno Â inside Â the Â globally Â renowned Â Tripa Â rainforest Â in Â Aceh, Â Indonesia Â is Â pushing Â this Â forestâ€™s Â unique Â population Â of Â Sumatran Â orangutans Â to Â the Â brink Â of Â extinction. Â Destruction Â inside Â palm Â oil Â plantation Â leases Â is Â driving Â the Â end Â of Â this Â great Â lowland Â forest, Â despite Â years Â of Â efforts Â by Â local Â communities Â to Â defend Â their Â forests Â and Â livelihood.
In the final week of March 2012, more than 90 fires swept through Tripaâ€™s controversial palm oil plantation leases, destroying the tropical forest canopy and its diverse inhabitants underneath it. Â Â
Â 7KHÂżUHVKDYHEHHQGHYDVWDWLQJQRWMXVWIRUWKHFULWLFDOO\HQGDQJHUHG orangutans Â and Â other Â iconic Â species, Â including Â tigers Â and Â elephants, Â but Â DOVRIRUWKHVXUURXQGLQJFRPPXQLWLHVRIWUDGLWLRQDOÂżVKHUSHRSOHZKRVH livelihoods Â are Â dependent Â on Â the Â forestâ€™s Â rich Â resources. Â Conservationists Â from Â Sumatran Â Orangutan Â Conservation Â Program Â estimate Â that Â as Â many Â DVRI7ULSDÂśVRUDQJXWDQVKDYHEHHQNLOOHGLQWKHÂżUHVVRIDU 7KHWLPLQJDQGORFDWLRQRIWKHÂżUHVLQ7ULSDXQNQRZQWREXUQQDWXUDOO\ casts Â enormous Â suspicion Â on Â the Â agribusiness Â companies Â active Â in Â the Â DUHD8VLQJÂżUHWRFOHDUIRUHVWVLQ,QGRQHVLDLVLOOHJDO8QIRUWXQDWHO\WKH VXUYLYDORI,QGRQHVLDÂśVYDOXDEOHIRUHVWVLVDWULVNDWWKHKDQGVRISURÂżW hungry Â agribusiness Â companies Â that Â clear Â rainforests Â for Â palm Â oil Â and Â plantation Â timber Â production. Â Palm Â oil Â plantations Â have Â been Â converting Â forest Â in Â Tripa Â for Â years;Íž Â with Â
only Â one-Âthird Â of Â this Â unique Â rainforest Â remaining. Â But Â a Â new Â palm Â oil Â plantation Â lease Â signed Â in Â 2011 Â by Â Acehâ€™s Â then-Âgovernor, Â Irwandi Â Yusuf, Â a Â self-Âproclaimed Â conservationist Â and Â friend Â of Â local Â communities, Â PD\KDYHSODFHGWKHÂżQDOIDWHRIWKH7ULSDUDLQIRUHVWLQWKHKDQGVRI Indonesian Â agribusiness Â company, Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam. Â Following Â the Â lease Â signing, Â Tripa Â drew Â international Â attention, Â as Â an Â example Â of Â the Â link Â between Â worldwide Â consumption Â of Â commodity Â crops, Â the Â production Â of Â palm Â oil Â and Â the Â heavy Â ecological Â and Â social Â toll Â resulting Â from Â the Â deforestation Â of Â tropical Â rainforests. Communities Â desperate Â to Â hold Â onto Â their Â rainforests Â and Â forest-Â dependent Â livelihoods Â and Â conservationists Â outraged Â at Â the Â global Â environmental Â tragedy Â unfolding Â were Â shocked Â by Â Yusufâ€™s Â decision Â to Â sign Â the Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â concession Â into Â law. Â The Â new Â plantation Â is Â LQFOHDUYLRODWLRQRI,QGRQHVLDÂśVKLJKSURÂżOHQDWLRQDOPRUDWRULXPRQ deforestation Â along Â with Â multiple Â other Â regional Â and Â national Â laws Â that Â have Â given Â protected-Âarea Â status Â to Â Tripa Â and Â the Â surrounding Â Leuser Â Ecosystem. Â Facing Â such Â a Â clear Â example Â of Â illegality Â in Â the Â Indonesian Â agribusiness Â company, Â a Â coalition Â of Â impacted Â parties Â took Â the Â rare Â step Â LQ,QGRQHVLDRIÂżOLQJDFULPLQDOFRPSODLQWDJDLQVWWKHPDQDJHPHQWRI37 Kallista Â Alam, Â as Â well Â as Â a Â lawsuit Â against Â the Â provincial Â government Â of Â Aceh. Â -XVWDZHHNDIWHUWKHRXWEUHDNRIWKH7ULSDÂżUHVWKH$FHKQHVH Administrative Â court Â handed Â down Â a Â â€œno-Âdecision,â€? Â refusing Â to Â rule Â on Â the Â cases Â until Â the Â defenders Â of Â the Â Tripa Â forest Â made Â a Â goodwill Â effort Â to Â
negotiate Â a Â solution Â with Â Tripaâ€™s Â developers Â and Â destroyers. Â The Â decision Â was Â not Â surprising: Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â courts Â are Â notorious Â for Â their Â corruption Â and Â regular Â refusal Â to Â rule Â on Â important Â cases. Â The Â plaintiffs Â have Â vowed Â to Â appeal Â and Â consider Â the Â ruling Â absurd. Â Tripaâ€™s Â forest Â communities Â and Â their Â environmental Â advocate Â allies Â have Â in Â fact Â spent Â years Â attempting Â to Â negotiate Â with Â the Â four Â agribusiness Â companies Â that Â wield Â control Â of Â Tripa. Â After Â hundreds Â of Â meetings, Â letters Â and Â protests Â in Â surrounding Â cities, Â Tripaâ€™s Â forests Â continue Â to Â be Â destroyed Â at Â an Â increasing Â rate, Â leaving Â critically Â endangered Â RUDQJXWDQVZLWKQRZKHUHWRĂ€HHDQG communities Â with Â no Â land Â to Â plant Â crops, Â ÂżVKLQWKHRQFHĂ€RRGHGIRUHVWVRUJDWKHU forest Â honey. Â
The Â dire Â situation Â in Â Tripa Â contradicts Â commitments Â made Â by Â the Â Indonesian Â government Â and Â the Â agribusiness Â industry Â to Â break Â the Â link Â between Â deforestation Â and Â palm Â oil Â production. Â In Â 2011, Â Indonesia Â adopted Â a Â moratorium Â RQGHIRUHVWDWLRQ$JULEXVLQHVVFRPSDQLHVIROORZHGZLWKRIÂżFLDO SROLFLHVDQGYROXQWDU\FHUWLÂżFDWLRQHIIRUWVRIWKHLURZQWRFOHDQXS plantations Â and Â palm Â oil Â supply Â chains Â in Â effort Â to Â make Â them Â more Â environmentally Â sensitive, Â transparent Â and Â accountable. Â Â Yet Â now, Â despite Â
ORFDOFRPPXQLW\REMHFWLRQVZLGHVSUHDGLQWHUQDWLRQDOFRQFHUQDQG government Â acknowledgment Â that Â the Â Tripa Â forest Â should Â be Â protected, Â international Â palm Â oil Â traders, Â like Â Cargill, Â continue Â to Â give Â the Â palm Â oil Â produced Â in Â Tripa Â access Â to Â the Â global Â market.
The dire situation in Tripa contradicts many commitments made by the Indonesian government and international agribusiness to break the link between deforestation and palm oil production.
RELEIF MAP: ARID OCEAN ABOVE AND OPPOSITE: FIRES RAGING ACROSS TRIPA DURING MARCH OF 2012. PHOTOS: CARLOS QUILLES
A Globally Significant Forest Ecosystem 7ULSDLVDIRUHVWRIVSHFLDOYDOXH,WVWRZHULQJFDQRS\DQGĂ€RRGHG IRUHVWĂ€RRUKDYHSURYLGHG,QGRQHVLDQVOLYHOLKRRGVIRUJHQHUDWLRQV 7KHĂ€RRGHGIRUHVWÂśVVWRUHVRIIUHVKZDWHUDFWDVDQDTXDWLFQXUVHU\ SURGXFLQJODUJHFDWFKHVRIÂżVKWKDWIHHGIDPLOLHVDQGSURYLGHLQFRPHV WRIXOOWLPHÂżVKHUPHQ$WWKHIRUHVWÂśVHGJHVSUHDGDORQJWKHEDQNVRIWKH Tripa, Â Seuneuam Â and Â Batee Â Rivers, Â generations Â of Â forest Â communities Â have Â paddled Â dugout Â canoes Â into Â the Â forestâ€™s Â black Â waters Â to Â place Â KDQGPDGHFDWÂżVKDQGVKULPSWUDSV2WKHUIRUHVWSURGXFWVDOVRFRQWULEXWH to Â localsâ€™ Â incomes, Â like Â the Â forest Â honey Â that Â can Â be Â found Â in Â Tripaâ€™s Â canopy, Â and Â damar, Â a Â valuable Â resin Â that Â can Â be Â tapped Â from Â one Â of Â the Â more Â common Â mature Â rainforest Â tree Â species Â in Â the Â forest. Â Small Â scale, Â artisanal Â logging Â in Â the Â forest Â provides Â communities Â their Â canoes, Â houses Â and Â fuel Â for Â cooking. Locals, Â facing Â the Â loss Â of Â their Â livelihoods Â provided Â by Â the Â forest, Â have Â written Â letters, Â met Â with Â government Â representatives Â and Â formed Â activist Â groups Â in Â an Â effort Â to Â have Â their Â community Â lands Â excluded Â from Â the Â plantation Â boundariesâ€”without Â luck. Â Even Â in Â the Â most Â well Â established Â settlements, Â community Â members Â are Â now Â required Â to Â report Â to Â company Â security Â when Â they Â need Â to Â pass Â through Â the Â plantation Â on Â a Â daily Â basis. Â +DUDVVPHQWDQGGHPDQGVWRVHHLGHQWLÂżFDWLRQDUHFRPPRQ7KHSDOPRLO companies Â strictly Â enforce Â their Â boundaries, Â using Â armed Â private Â security Â
THE FLOODED FORESTS OF TRIPA PROVIDE FISH AND SHRIMP TO THOUSANDS OF ACEHNESE. PHOTO: DAVID GILBERT
and Â Indonesian Â military Â special Â forces Â police Â to Â keep Â villagers Â out Â of Â areas Â once Â managed Â as Â community Â forests. Orangutans, Â perhaps Â Sumatraâ€™s Â most Â emblematic Â forest Â species, Â have Â lived Â in Â Tripa Â for Â many Â thousands Â of Â years. Â Known Â in Â Bahasa Â Indonesian Â as Â the Â â€œpeople Â of Â the Â forest,â€? Â Tripaâ€™s Â richly Â productive Â ecosystem Â has Â allowed Â these Â orangutans Â to Â become Â especially Â social. Â Unlike Â other Â groups Â of Â orangutans Â that Â rarely Â interact Â and Â live Â in Â semi-Âisolation, Â Tripaâ€™s Â orangutans Â fascinate Â scientists Â by Â VSHQGLQJDVLJQLÂżFDQWSURSRUWLRQRIWKHLUWLPHLQJURXSVLQWHUDFWLQJZLWK one Â another, Â while Â they Â forage Â through Â the Â forest. Â Researchers Â believe Â it Â is Â these Â social Â interactions Â that Â have Â allowed Â the Â Tripa Â orangutans Â to Â develop Â their Â culture Â of Â using Â tools Â for Â feeding, Â their Â habits Â of Â food Â sharing Â and Â their Â complex Â communications. Â The Â International Â Union Â for Â the Â Conservation Â of Â Nature Â (IUCN) Â â€œred Â listâ€? Â categorizes Â the Â Sumatran Â orangutan Â (Pongo Â abelii) Â as Â critically Â endangered, Â meaning Â this Â species Â faces Â the Â highest Â possible Â threat Â of Â extinction. Â The Â Tripa Â orangutan Â population, Â once Â as Â many Â as Â 2,500 Â or Â more, Â is Â now Â down Â to Â an Â estimated Â 250 Â individuals, Â with Â most Â Â living Â in Â
the Â largest Â remaining Â intact Â area Â of Â the Â Tripa Â that Â is Â now Â under Â imminent Â threat Â of Â destruction.
Tripa Â is Â a Â tropical Â peat Â swamp Â forest, Â the Â single Â most Â important Â terrestrial Â ecosystem Â for Â the Â regulation Â of Â greenhouse Â gases Â that Â contribute Â to Â climate Â change. Â Over Â time, Â accumulation Â of Â tree Â and Â plant Â matter Â has Â formed Â peat Â soil, Â a Â spongy Â black, Â rich Â substrate Â made Â up Â almost Â entirely Â of Â carbon. Â Locked Â away Â and Â prevented Â from Â decomposing Â in Â the Â atmosphere Â EHFDXVHLWKDVUHPDLQHGFRQWLQXRXVO\Ă€RRGHGWKH 7ULSDSHDWIRUHVWKROGVDFDUERQVWRUHRIVLJQLÂżFDQW importance;Íž Â estimates Â of Â the Â amount Â of Â carbon Â stored Â in Â Tripaâ€™s Â three Â peat Â domes Â range Â from Â 50 Â to Â 100 Â million Â tons, Â an Â amount Â equal Â to Â the Â carbon Â emitted Â by Â the Â use Â of Â air Â conditioning Â in Â the Â whole Â of Â the Â United Â States Â in Â a Â year. Â An Â estimated Â one Â million Â tons Â of Â carbon Â a Â year Â are Â being Â emitted Â by Â the Â burning Â and Â draining Â of Â Tripaâ€™s Â forests Â and Â peat Â soils.
THE STORY OF LAND COVER CHANGE IN TRIPA IS ONE OF DEFORESTATION TO MAKE WAY FOR AGRIBUSINESS EXPANSION. WICH ET AL. 2011
Locals, facing the loss of their livelihoods and forest, have written letters, met with government representatives and formed activist groups in an effort to have their community lands excluded from the plantation boundaries - without luck. Even in the most well established settlements, community members are now required to report to company security when they need to pass through the plantation on a daily business. Harassment and demands to see identification are common.
LEFT: A HANGING BROMELIAD IN THE TRIPA FLOODED FOREST. THE INUNDATED PEAT SOILS THAT GIVE THE WATER ITS CHARACTERISTIC BLACK COLOR ARE THE RESULT OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF ACCUMULATION OF THE RICH PLANT LIFE OF THE FOREST. RIGHT: ACEHNESE CHILDREN LOOK OUT FROM THEIR HOME NEARBY THE FLOODED PEAT FOREST OF TRIPA, INDONESIA. PHOTOS: DAVID GILBERT
The Tripa Forest & Palm Oil Development: A History of Social Conflict and Rainforest Destruction Up Â until Â 1990, Â the Â Tripa Â ecosystem Â covered Â approximately Â 60,700 Â KHFWDUHVDQDUHDWKHVL]HRI6LQJDSRUH%XWLQWKHHDUO\ÂśVÂżYH licenses Â were Â allocated Â by Â the Â central Â government Â without Â community Â consent Â to Â covert Â the Â unique Â Tripa Â rainforests Â to Â oil Â palm Â plantations. Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â corrupt Â dictator, Â Suharto, Â had Â begun Â dividing Â up Â Sumatraâ€™s Â rainforests Â and Â local Â community Â lands Â for Â palm Â oil, Â logging Â and Â pulp Â wood Â development. Â Tripa, Â despite Â its Â importance Â to Â local Â communities Â DQGLWVKLJKFRQVHUYDWLRQYDOXHZDVVXEMHFWHGWRDVODWHRIDJJUHVVLYH development Â in Â which Â more Â than Â 250 Â palm Â oil Â concessions Â were Â given Â RXWLQDSHULRGRIOHVVWKDQÂżYH\HDUVLQWKHVXUURXQGLQJSURYLQFHRI Aceh. Â
Smoke Â from Â the Â smoldering Â peatlands Â was Â so Â intense Â that Â thick Â haze Â overwhelmed Â cities Â hundreds Â of Â kilometers Â away Â and Â local Â community Â members Â had Â to Â seek Â medical Â treatment Â for Â smoke Â inhalation. Â However, Â the Â company Â was Â never Â forced Â to Â account Â for Â or Â redress Â these Â impacts.
In Â 2007, Â Astra Â International, Â of Â which Â a Â 50 Â percent Â share Â is Â controlled Â by Â 8.OLVWHGLQYHVWPHQWÂżUP-DUGLQH0DWKHVRQWRRNRYHURQHRI7ULSDÂśV palm Â oil Â concessions, Â PT Â Surya Â Panen Â Subur. Â Through Â their Â subsidiary, Â PT Â Astra Â Agro Â Lestari, Â Astra Â International Â began Â clearing Â immediately. Â From Â 2007 Â to Â 2009, Â 8,000 Â hectares Â of Â rainforest Â was Â lost Â in Â Tripa, Â of Â which Â 5,000 Â hectares Â was Â in Â Astra Â Agroâ€™s Â concession. Â In Â two Â years, Â this Â habitat Â lost Â 25 Â percent Â of Â the Â area Â of Â peatland Â forests Â it Â held Â in Â 2007.
A Â 2007 Â province-Âwide Â moratorium Â on Â forest Â logging, Â signed Â by Â Acehâ€™s Â then Â governor Â Irwandi Â Yusuf, Â should Â have Â made Â Astra Â Internationalâ€™s Â clear-Âcutting Â for Â oil Â palm Â illegal. Â Then, Â a Â new, Â nation-Âwide Â spatial Â plan Â developed Â in Â 2008, Â â€œ Â Peraturan Â Pemerintah Â 26/2008,â€? Â prohibited Â further Â damage Â to Â the Â Tripa Â ecosystem Â because Â of Â itâ€™s Â location Â inside Â the Â Leuser Â Ecosystem, Â a Â UNESCO Â World Â Heritage Â Biosphere Â Reserve Â deemed Â by Â the Â Indonesian Â government Â to Â have Â special Â â€œconservation Â and Â strategic Â value.â€?
Despite Â multiple Â national Â laws Â that Â mandate Â a Â â€œZero-ÂBurnâ€? Â policy Â for Â palm Â oil Â companies, Â satellite Â analysis Â carried Â out Â by Â the Â environmental Â group, Â Koalisi Â Penyelamatan Â Rawa, Â Tripa Â showed Â over Â thirty Â detectable Â ÂżUHVLQVLGH$VWUD$JUR/HVWDULÂśVSDOPRLOSODQWDWLRQVIURPWR
Smoke from the smoldering peatlands was so intense thick haze overwhelmed cities hundreds of kilometers away and local community members had to seek medical treatment for smoke inhalation, but the company was never forced to account for or redress these impacts.
RELIEF MAP OF INDONESIA BY ARID OCEAN INSET: APP LOGGING TRUCKS INSIDE THEIR PT WIRA KARYA SAKTI (WKS) LOGGING CONCESSION.
Indonesiaâ€™s Forest and Palm Oil Commitments: A Bold New Path or (Agri)Business-as-Usual? ,Q0D\,QGRQHVLDÂśVSUHVLGHQWHVWDEOLVKHGDQDWLRQZLGH PRUDWRULXPRQGHIRUHVWDWLRQLQDKLJKSURÂżOHHIIRUWWRVORZIRUHVWORVV DQGWDFNOHFOLPDWHFKDQJH7KHPRUDWRULXPGHÂżQHGVSHFLÂżFIRUHVW areas Â held Â by Â the Â government Â as Â off Â limits Â to Â new Â palm Â oil Â and Â pulp Â wood Â plantations Â and Â other Â forms Â of Â forest Â degradation Â and Â conversion. Â $VSDUWRIWKHPRUDWRULXPWKH0LQLVWU\RI)RUHVWU\SURGXFHGDPDS that Â delineated Â areas Â covered Â by Â the Â Presidential Â decree. Â The Â map Â clearly Â marked Â the Â remaining Â natural Â rainforest Â and Â peatland Â areas Â in Â Tripa, Â recently Â licensed Â to Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â for Â conversion Â to Â oil Â palm Â plantation, Â as Â off Â limits. If Â the Â already Â existing Â palm Â oil Â plantations Â in Â Tripa Â could Â not Â be Â annulled, Â as Â many Â Indonesian Â community Â representatives Â and Â environmental Â advocates Â had Â called Â for, Â there Â was Â hope Â that Â the Â national Â moratorium Â would Â at Â least Â protect Â the Â last Â of Â Tripaâ€™s Â rainforests Â and Â peatlands Â that Â had Â not Â been Â licensed Â for Â conversion Â to Â oil Â palm Â plantations. Â It Â was Â surprising Â then, Â in Â August Â 2011, Â when Â Acehâ€™s Â then-Â governor, Â Irwandi Â Yusuf, Â granted Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â permission Â to Â clear Â and Â develop Â a Â new Â palm Â oil Â plantation Â over Â most Â of Â the Â remaining Â natural Â forests Â and Â peatlands Â of Â Tripaâ€”an Â area Â supposedly Â off-Âlimits Â to Â any Â new Â development Â under Â the Â moratorium. Â The Â palm Â oil Â concession Â LVLQWKHZRUGVRI,QGRQHVLDÂśV0LQLVWU\RI)RUHVWVVHFUHWDU\JHQHUDO â€œclearly Â a Â violation Â because Â the Â area Â in Â question Â is Â a Â peat Â forest.â€? Â The Â ministry Â quickly Â promised Â an Â â€œintensive Â probeâ€? Â into Â the Â controversial Â permit. Â
As Â the Â case Â gained Â wide Â exposure, Â a Â local Â environmental Â group, Â The Â Coalition Â for Â the Â Protection Â of Â Tripa Â (Koalisi Â Penyelamatan Â Rawa Â Tripa), Â produced Â evidence Â that Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â had Â begun Â clearing Â the Â forest Â in Â January Â 2010, Â more Â than Â 18 Â months Â before Â the Â company Â had Â permits Â to Â do Â so. Â In Â addition, Â they Â alleged Â that Â the Â legally Â required Â environmental Â impact Â statement Â for Â the Â concession Â was Â incomplete Â and Â pointed Â to Â repeated Â reports Â of Â illegal Â land Â clearing Â in Â the Â area Â that Â had Â EHHQÂżOHGZLWKWKHSURYLQFLDOSROLFHDQGLJQRUHG Despite Â contrary Â evidence, Â former Â Governor Â Yusuf Â has Â Â maintained Â his Â position Â that Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â is Â fully Â in Â compliance Â with Â Indonesian Â law. Â In Â response Â to Â the Â loud Â protests Â by Â 21 Â Tripa Â communities Â over Â the Â loss Â of Â their Â ancestral Â forests Â and Â farms, Â Yusuf Â has Â said Â that Â it Â is Â up Â to Â the Â plantation Â company Â and Â the Â communities Â to Â work Â out Â an Â agreementâ€”a Â VHQWLPHQWHFKRHGE\-XGJHVLQWKH0DUFKUXOLQJÂ˛ZKLFKEUXVKHV DVLGHWKHOLNHO\VRFLDOFRQĂ€LFWVDQGHFRORJLFDOPD\KHPRIWKHGHFLVLRQ 7KHQLQ'HFHPEHUWKH0LQLVWU\RI)RUHVWVDQGWKH0LQLVWU\RI Agriculture Â did Â an Â about-Âface Â on Â their Â previous Â positions Â and, Â following Â the Â lead Â of Â former Â Governor Â Yusuf, Â authorized Â the Â destruction Â of Â Tripa. Â Without Â public Â explanation Â or Â comment, Â the Â area Â of Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â was Â removed Â from Â the Â moratorium Â map, Â along Â with Â almost Â nine Â million Â acres Â of Â additional Â primary Â and Â peat Â forests Â throughout Â the Â country. Â By Â doing Â so, Â the Â Indonesian Â government Â called Â into Â question Â their Â commitment Â to Â the Â moratorium, Â emissions Â reductions Â and Â the Â rule Â of Â national Â law. Â
FIRES RAGING ACROSS TRIPA DURING MARCH OF 2012. PHOTOS: CARLOS QUILLES
Running out of Time:
Vested Interests Allow Indonesiaâ€™s EnvironmentalToll to Rise Indonesia, Â listed Â alongside Â Nigeria Â and Â North Â Korea, Â now Â has Â Â the Â highest Â rate Â of Â deforestation Â in Â the Â world. Â The Â country Â has Â lost, Â on Â average, Â 3.7 Â million Â acres Â of Â rainforest Â a Â year Â over Â the Â past Â 20 Â years. Â Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â forests Â and Â their Â industrial Â exploitation Â has Â been Â a Â source Â of Â â€œunlimited Â corruption,â€? Â according Â to Â Chandra Â Hamzah, Â deputy Â chairman Â of Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â Corruption Â Eradication Â Commission. Â Such Â institutional Â corruption Â helps Â explain Â why Â the Â Indonesian Â governmentâ€™s Â promises Â to Â slow Â deforestation Â have Â been Â unrealistic, Â inconsistent Â and Â ineffective, Â and Â why Â agribusiness Â companies Â seem Â to Â have Â free Â reign Â in Â forests Â like Â Tripa. &HUWDLQSDOPRLOSURGXFHUVKDYHDWWHPSWHGWRGHĂ€HFWORFDODQG international Â concern Â over Â the Â environment Â as Â an Â unreasonable Â goal Â imposed Â by Â foreign Â interests Â that Â will Â cause Â great Â economic Â harm. Â But Â the Â truth Â is Â that Â the Â loudest Â public Â outcry Â around Â the Â fate Â of Â Tripaâ€™s Â
forests Â has Â been Â from Â local Â communities Â and Â Indonesian Â organizations, Â and Â no Â one Â is Â calling Â for Â the Â end Â of Â the Â palm Â oil Â industry. Â Also, Â it Â is Â worth Â mentioning Â that Â many Â of Â the Â companies Â destroying Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â rich Â natural Â resources Â are Â foreign-Âowned. Â The Â case Â of Â Tripa Â shows Â that Â even Â the Â most Â important Â and Â supposedly Â protected Â forests Â are Â not Â safe Â from Â agribusiness Â expansion. Â The Â moratorium Â clearly Â falls Â far Â short Â of Â what Â is Â needed Â to Â address Â carbon Â emissions. Â But Â Tripa Â demonstrates Â that, Â even Â with Â all Â of Â its Â shortcomings, Â the Â moratorium Â is Â not Â being Â implemented, Â suggesting Â that Â reformers Â in Â the Â Indonesian Â government Â and Â palm Â oil Â companies Â do Â not Â yet Â have Â the Â LQĂ€XHQFHQHHGHGWRRYHUFRPHWKHSRZHUIXOHOLWHZKRUHDSWKHPRVW EHQHÂżWVIURP,QGRQHVLDÂśVUDLQIRUHVWGHVWUXFWLRQIRUWKHVDNHRISDOPRLO expansion.
FIRES RAGING ACROSS TRIPA DURING MARCH OF 2012. PHOTOS: CARLOS QUILLES
International Market Links and Commitments Regarding the Destruction of Tripa As Â forest Â clearing Â and Â peatland Â drainage Â continues Â at Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â and Â the Â other Â palm Â oil Â plantations, Â a Â lack Â of Â agribusiness Â transparency Â prevents Â a Â full Â understanding Â of Â Tripaâ€™s Â internationally Â distributed Â palm Â oil Â chain. Â Astra Â Agro Â Lestari Â produced Â and Â exported Â palm Â oil Â from Â Tripa Â until Â 2010, Â when Â it Â sold Â its Â Tripa Â plantation Â to Â another Â agribusiness Â based Â in Â Jakarta, Â the Â Triputra Â Group. Â Trade Â data Â held Â by Â Rainforest Â Action Â Network Â shows Â that Â Cargill Â shipped Â at Â least Â 4,000 Â tons Â of Â crude Â palm Â oil Â produced Â by Â Astra Â Agro Â Lestari Â from Â the Â island Â of Â Sumatra Â in Â 2009. Â It Â is Â highly Â likely Â that Â at Â least Â some Â of Â this Â 4,000 Â tons Â was Â from Â Tripa, Â making Â a Â direct Â link Â between Â the Â destruction Â Tripa Â and Â the Â US Â consumer Â impossible Â to Â ignore. Â Cargill Â Inc., Â one Â of Â the Â largest Â traders Â and Â importers Â of Â palm Â oil Â and Â its Â derivatives Â into Â the Â United Â States, Â operates Â its Â own Â palm Â oil Â plantations Â in Â Sumatra Â DQG%RUQHRDQGWUDGHVSDOPRLOSURGXFHGE\DWOHDVWÂżIWHHQ,QGRQHVLDQ palm Â oil Â producers. Â Cargillâ€™s Â relationships Â with Â Astra Â Agro Â Lestari, Â or Â other Â plantation Â companies Â with Â operations Â in Â Tripa, Â highlights Â the Â lack Â of Â safeguards Â on Â the Â quarter Â of Â the Â worldâ€™s Â palm Â oil Â the Â company Â trades. Â Trade Â data Â also Â shows Â that Â Astra Â Agro Â Lestari Â also Â sells Â millions Â of Â dollars Â of Â palm Â oil Â a Â year Â to Â industry Â giants Â Wilmar, Â Unilever Â and Â Sinar Â 0DVGHPRQVWUDWLQJWKDWFXVWRPHUVDURXQGWKHZRUOGKDYHSXUFKDVHG Tripaâ€™s Â palm Â oil Â and Â are Â helping Â to Â drive Â the Â destruction Â associated Â with Â LW$OORIWKHVHFRPSDQLHVKDYHPDGHVSHFLÂżFFRPPLWPHQWVWRDYRLG deforestation Â in Â their Â palm Â oil Â supply Â chains. Â However, Â through Â their Â links Â to Â Tripa, Â they Â continue Â to Â violate Â these Â commitments. Â Plantation Â ownership Â in Â Tripa, Â as Â in Â much Â of Â Indonesia, Â is Â an Â ever-Â changing Â shell Â game Â where Â ownership Â shifts Â often, Â illegal Â operations Â are Â frequent Â and Â establishing Â direct Â supply Â chain Â links Â is Â very Â challenging. Â Â Â
:KLOHLWLVYHU\GLIÂżFXOWWRJHWWUDQVSDUHQWFXVWRPVGDWD&DUJLOOKROGV the Â records Â and Â answers Â to Â the Â questions Â raised Â by Â those Â concerned Â with Â the Â situation Â unfolding Â in Â Aceh. Â The Â bottom Â line Â remains Â that Â Cargill Â cannot Â ensure Â that Â it Â is Â not Â trading Â palm Â oil Â from Â Tripa Â or Â parent Â FRPSDQLHVSURÂżWLQJIURPWKHGHVWUXFWLRQRI7ULSD because Â it Â has Â no Â safeguards Â in Â place Â to Â prevent Â it. Â It Â is Â past Â time Â for Â Cargill Â to Â adopt Â safeguards Â on Â the Â palm Â oil Â it Â trades Â without Â outsourcing Â its Â values Â to Â RSPO Â membership Â to Â guarantee Â that Â it Â is Â not Â SURÂżWLQJIURPVLWXDWLRQV like Â Tripa Â across Â ,QGRQHVLDDQG0DOD\VLD
TOP: A BULLDOZER AMONGST NEWLY PLANTED OIL PALM ON THE EDGES OF THE TRIPA FOREST IN 2009. PHOTO: DAVID GILBERT ABOVE: FIRES RAGING ACROSS TRIPA DURING MARCH OF 2012. PHOTOS: CARLOS QUILLES
To Clean up the Palm Oil Industry 7KHZLGHVSUHDGGHYDVWDWLRQRI7ULSDÂśVUDLQIRUHVWVLVXQIRUWXQDWHO\MXVWRQHH[DPSOHRIWKHGHVWUXFWLYHSUDFWLFHVRIWKHSDOP oil Â industry. Â With Â the Â government Â unable, Â or Â unwilling, Â to Â take Â the Â steps Â needed Â to Â break Â the Â link Â between Â palm Â oil Â production Â DQGFULWLFDOLVVXHVVXFKDVGHIRUHVWDWLRQFOLPDWHFDWDVWURSKHWKHH[WLQFWLRQRIWKH6XPDWUDQRUDQJXWDQDQGODQGFRQĂ€LFWVSDOP oil Â buyers Â must Â take Â responsibility Â for Â the Â palm Â oil Â they Â consume.
PREVENT THE NEXT TRIPA
Even Â after Â 20 Â years Â of Â destruction, Â thousands Â of Â acres Â of Â priceless Â Tripa Â IRUHVWVXUYLYH7RGD\WKHIRUHVWKROGVÂżYHSHUFHQWRIWKH6XPDWUDQ orangutans Â surviving Â in Â the Â wild Â and Â the Â areaâ€™s Â peat Â soils Â still Â contain Â millions Â of Â tons Â of Â carbon. Â We Â must Â ensure Â that Â it Â is Â not Â too Â late Â for Â Tripa Â DVWKLVXQLTXHUDLQIRUHVWFRQWLQXHVWRUHSUHVHQWDPDMRURSSRUWXQLW\IRU forest Â conservation.
If Â you Â consume Â palm Â oil, Â but Â do Â not Â want Â to Â support Â human Â rights Â YLRODWLRQVVRFLDOFRQĂ€LFWDQGHQYLURQPHQWDOGHYDVWDWLRQ\RXFDQKHOS prevent Â the Â next Â Tripa. Â
,I\RXXVHRUFRQVXPHSDOPRLOLWLVWLPHWRMRLQWKHLQWHUQDWLRQDOHIIRUW to Â protect Â Tripa Â rainforest Â and Â the Â Leuser Â ecosystem:
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Call Â for Â the Â immediate Â revocation Â of Â the Â palm Â oil Â permit Â issued Â to Â Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam, Â and Â a Â permanent Â ban Â on Â any Â additional Â Â clearing Â in Â the Â Tripa Â forest Â or Â Leuser Â ecosystem. Â Voice Â support Â for Â the Â prosecution Â of Â PT Â Kallista Â Alam Â and Â Â other Â palm Â oil Â companies Â found Â in Â violation Â of Â Indonesian Â law Â in Â Â the Â clearing Â of Â the Â Tripa Â rainforest. Â Demand Â that Â Cargill, Â Wilmar Â and Â other Â traders Â immediately Â stop Â Â WUDGLQJZLWKSDOPRLOFRPSDQLHVSURÂżWLQJIURPGHVWUXFWLRQRIWKH Â Tripa Â rainforest.
By Â adopting Â safeguards Â around Â palm Â oil Â entering Â international Â markets, Â we Â have Â an Â opportunity Â to Â protect Â other Â critical Â ecosystems Â before Â catastrophes Â occur, Â as Â they Â did Â in Â Tripa:
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Work Â with Â Rainforest Â Action Â Network Â and Â other Â stakeholders Â Â to Â adopt Â a Â palm Â oil Â policy Â that Â makes Â explicit Â your Â companyâ€™s Â Â values Â around Â conservation Â and Â human Â rights. Â $YRLGRXWVRXUFLQJ\RXUYDOXHVWRFHUWLÂżFDWLRQVVFKHPHVWKDW Â cannot Â currently Â guarantee Â all Â of Â your Â values Â will Â be Â met. Â Instead Â Â XVH5RXQGWDEOHRQ6XVWDLQDEOH3DOP2LO5632 FHUWLÂżFDWLRQ Â in Â addition Â to Â other Â tools Â that Â can Â help Â ensure Â you Â are Â not Â Â FRQQHFWHGWRVRFLDOFRQĂ€LFWRUIRUHVWORVV,I\RXXVHFHUWLÂżFDWLRQ Â as Â a Â tool Â then Â it Â is Â important Â to Â engage Â with Â the Â RSPO Â to Â help Â Â ensure Â the Â standard Â continues Â to Â improve. Â Â Â Take Â responsibility Â for Â understanding Â your Â supply Â chain Â and Â Â pressure Â your Â supplier Â to Â improve Â palm Â oil Â plantations Â on Â the Â Â ground. Â Traders Â such Â as Â Cargill Â must Â adopt Â safeguards Â on Â the Â Â palm Â oil Â they Â supply Â to Â international Â markets. Â Necessary Â supplier Â Â safeguards Â include: Â
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Social Â Safeguards Â A Â commitment Â to Â resolve Â social Â and Â land Â rights Â tenure Â Â FRQĂ€LFWVDQRWUDGHSRVLWLRQIRUJURZHUVXVLQJFKLOGRU Â slave Â labor, Â adherence Â to Â obtaining Â free, Â prior, Â and Â Â informed Â consent Â (FPIC) Â of Â forest-Âdependent Â communities Â Â before Â lands Â are Â acquired Â or Â developed, Â and Â a Â commitment Â Â to Â implement Â the Â United Â Nations Â â€œprotect, Â respect, Â and Â Â remedyâ€? Â framework Â for Â human Â rights. Â Â Environmental Â Safeguards Â A Â commitment Â to Â reduce Â biodiversity Â loss Â and Â greenhouse Â Â gas Â emissions Â by Â ending Â the Â expansion Â of Â palm Â oil Â Â plantations Â into Â High Â Conservation Â Value Â (HCV) Â areas Â Â including Â critical Â habitat, Â peatlands Â and Â High Â Carbon Â Â Stock Â forests, Â and Â other Â natural Â forests Â and Â ecosystems. Â Commitment Â to Â Public Â Transparency Â A Â commitment Â to Â transparent Â and Â consistent Â reporting Â of Â Â metrics Â and Â targets Â as Â well Â as Â regular Â stakeholder Â and Â Â rights-Âholder Â engagement.
Endnotes PanEco. Â 2008. Â How Â palm Â oil Â plantations Â at Â Tripa Â increase Â disaster Â risk, Â contribute Â to Â climate Â change Â and Â drive Â a Â unique Â Sumatra-Âorangutan Â population Â to Â extinction. Â November.
Antara Â News. Â 2011. Â Orang Â utan Â Rawa Â Tripa Â mencari Â â€œrumah Â baru.â€? Â December Â 29. Â Â http://www.antaranews.com/berita/1325095001/orang-Âutan-Ârawa-Âtripa-Âmencari-Ârumah-Âbaru Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
Primanita, Â Arientha. Â 2011. Â Yudhoyono Â Criticizes Â Foreign Â Environmental Â NGOs. Â Jakarta Â Globe, Â December Â 22. Â KWWSZZZWKHMDNDUWDJOREHFRPQYLURQPHQW\XGKR\RQRFULWLFL]HV foreign-Âenvironmental-Ângos/486417 Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
%XUKDQXGLQ0RKDPDGDQG$JXV0XO\DGL,]LQ3HUNHEXQDQGL$FHK%HUPDVDODK+DUXV Dicabut Â . Â Kompas, Â December Â 12. Â http://regional.kompas.com/read/2011/12/12/21503988/Izin. Perkebunan.di. Â Aceh.Bermasalah.Harus.Dicabut Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
6DWULDVWDQWL)LGHOLV(0LQLVWU\WR3UREH$FHK)RUHVW&OHDULQJ3HUPLWJakarta Â Globe, Â December Â 14. Â KWWSZZZWKHMDNDUWDJOREHFRPQYLURQPHQWPLQLVWU\WRSUREHDFHKIRUHVW clearing-Âpermit/484331 Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â Â Satriastanti, Â Fidelis Â E. Â 2011. Â Yudhoyono Â Signs Â Decree Â to Â Reduce Â Greenhouse Â Gas Â Emissions. Â Jakarta Â Globe, Â September Â 26. Â KWWSZZZWKHMDNDUWDJOREHFRPQYLURQPHQW\XGKR\RQRVLJQV decree-Âto-Âreduce-Âgreenhouse-Âgas-Âemissions/467797 Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
Daily Â Aceh. Â 2011. Â Aceh Â Governor Â Irwandi Â Bela Â Kalista Â Alam. Â December Â 24. Â http://sindikasi. inilah.com/read/detail/1811303/gubernur-Âaceh-Âirwandi-Âbela-Âkalista-Âalam Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â Faizal, Â Elly Â Burhaini. Â 2011. Â Govt Â seeks Â to Â overturn Â Acehâ€™s Â granting Â of Â forest Â clearing Â permit. Â The Â Jakarta Â Post, Â December Â 10. Â KWWSZZZWKHMDNDUWDSRVWFRPQHZVJRYWVHHNV overturn-Âaceh-Âs-Âgranting-Âforest-Âclearing-Âpermit.html Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
Tim Â Koalisi Â Penyelematan Â Rawa Â Tripa. Â 2011. Â Tripa Â Truths0HGDQ,QGRQHVLD )RJDUW\'DYLG6SHFLDO5HSRUW+RZ,QGRQHVLDKXUWLWVFOLPDWHFKDQJHSURMHFW Reuters, Â August Â 16. Â http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/16/us-Âindonesia-Âcarbon-Â idUSTRE77F0IK20110816 Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â
9DQ6FKDLN&3'HDQHU52DQG0<0HUULOO7KHFRQGLWLRQVIRUWRROXVHLQ primates: Â implications Â for Â the Â evolution Â of Â material Â culture. Â Journal Â of Â human Â evolution Â 36(6): Â 719-Â41.
Forest Â Watch Â Indonesia. Â 2011. Â Press Â Release: Â Portrait Â of Â Indonesiaâ€™s Â Forests: Â 15.2 Â million Â Ha Â Forest Â Has Â Gone. Â July Â 27. Â http://fwi.or.id/english/?p=170 Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012). Â Indonesia Â Today. Â 2011. Â Wilmar Â and Â Sinarmas, Â Biggest Â Customer Â of Â Astra Â Agro. Â July Â 27. Â Â http://www.theindonesiatoday.com/news/resources/agriculture/12892-Âwilmar-Âand-Â sinarmas2c-Âbiggest-Âcustomer-Âof-Âastra-Âagro.html Â (accessed Â April Â 12, Â 2012).
:LFK6$0HLMDDUG(0DUVKDOO$-HWDO'LVWULEXWLRQDQGFRQVHUYDWLRQVWDWXV of Â the Â orang-Âutan Â (Pongo Â spp.) Â on Â Borneo Â and Â Sumatra: Â how Â many Â remain? Â Oryx Â 42 Â (03): Â 329-Â339. Â
AN ORANGUTAN LOOKS OUT FROM A CAGE IN ACEH, INDONESIA. TRIPAâ€™S SUMATRAN ORANGUTANS FACE EXTINCTION AT THE HANDS OF PALM OIL DEVELOPMENT. PHOTO: DAVID GILBERT
Credits: Written by David Gilbert Photos: David Gilbert and Carlos Quiles Design: Toben Dilworth / RAN David Gilbert is a political ecologist who has lived and worked in Indonesiaâ€™s forests since 2007. Cover Photo: Carlos Quiles
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Published on Apr 16, 2012
A manmade inferno inside the globally renowned Tripa rainforest in Aceh, Indonesia is pushing this forest’s unique population of Sumatran or...