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Posts Tagged ‘Jakarta’

Logging the Moratorium Zone in Indonesia’s REDD+ Pilot Province

Yesterday, EIA and Telapak released a new briefing paper – Caught REDD Handed- exposing illegal deforestation in Indonesia.

In summary, the briefing exposed how, on the very day Indonesia’s president signed a new moratorium on forest exploitation in areas of peatland and primary forest across Indonesia, EIA and Telapak were filming a Malaysian owned plantation company actively clearing about 5,000 hectares of it in the REDD+ Pilot Province, Central Kalimantan. The moratorium was breached on day one – hardly a good sign for what is already a weak moratorium.

Excavator clearing forest in PT Menteng area May 2011

Investing in Criminal Deforestation

Worse still, EIA’s research also reveals that Norway, Indonesia’s biggest REDD+ donor, stands to profit from the illegal deforestation of moratorium land through the $41.5 million of shares the country’s pension fund holds in the Malaysian company Kuala Lumpur Kepong. This is despite both the moratorium and the REDD+ Pilot Province being cornerstones of a US$ 1 billion Letter of Intent (LoI) on REDD+ between the two countries. Jago’s previous blog on the moratorium

The briefing also reveals how this is not Norway’s only investment in deforestation in Indonesia. EIA’s research reveals that during 2010, Norway’s portfolio of logging and plantations investments had increased in value from $437 million to $678 million, with $145 of this increase being profits to Norway from increased share values.

EIA has repeatedly warned Norway that its Pension Fund is in danger of profiting from the violation of the forests of Indonesia, but, it seems, to no avail. Indeed, as the briefing explains, Norway has actually put more money into, and made more money from deforesting industries in Indonesia and its neighbouring countries over the year, than it has granted to Indonesia under the Letter of Intent on REDD+.

Despite the whole idea of REDD+ being to reverse the structure of financial incentives – from those that encourage deforestation to those that encourage forest protection, the case of Norway’s pension fund reveals how the financial incentives in the forestry sector remain perverse.

Log in land cleared by PT Menteng, May 2011

EIA and Telapak have submitted the briefing to the Indonesian and Norwegian authorities, in the hope that both parties might prevent the moratorium being swept aside by realities in crime riddled Central Kalimantan.

While Indonesia needs to deliver on its pledges to clean up crime, corruption and illegal plantations in Central Kalimantan and nationwide, Norway’s finance ministry needs to get its pension fund REDD Ready by divesting from companies that drive the very deforestation Norway is hoping to see reduce in Indonesia.

For further information on the breach of the moratorium, see the following resources:

EIA/Telapak Press Release in Englishand Bahasa Indonesia

Caught REDD Handed Briefing in English& Bahasa Indonesia

EIA interviewed on Radio Australia

News coverage on Reuters & Mongabay, and in REDD Montor

 

Jago Wadley

Senior Campaigner

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Illegal logging copyright EIATen years ago when EIA and our Indonesian partners Telapak started to investigate illegal logging and all the concerns that this environmental crime brings, an issue that kept coming up was the role of civil society and how to ensure our voices were heard.

We have all taken risks investigating what goes on in the forests and some of our partners live with that risk every single day. Our exposure of timber barons and the corruption that allows them to operate without penalties, have been the trademark of the EIA /Telapak partnership.

In Indonesia a few years ago, I remember being in a meeting with some Indonesian officials from the Ministry of Forestry and asking why nothing was being done to formally investigate a person of interest, even with a dossier of evidence sitting on the table in front of us. His response was to ask if we could investigate further, “find out more” he said, “We need more information”.

I was absolutely furious, here was someone who had the power, had the mandate and had the resources to investigate arrest and ensure some judicial proceeding occurred no matter how corrupt. We were taking huge risks with no protection and no mandate, to ensure any proceedings went ahead. What made this even worse was that the international community had always relied on the verification of commercial activities within the forests to foreign companies. Which meant that those with vested interests, were monitoring themselves. Our evidence was considered at times but we had no avenue to ensure action was taken. Until now.

Meeting in JakartaTwo weeks ago I attended a meeting organised by EIA and Telapak to talk about the formal role of civil society in the independent monitoring of Indonesia’s forests. This was a crucial meeting and at a critical time, as Indonesia had in September enacted a new law that outlines the legality system of the trade in timber and wood products from Indonesia. This law is also applicable to domestic consumption.  It has taken a long time to get this law out there but the process that Indonesia took was open and inclusive.  Civil society were included and in fact at times needed, due to a lack of capacity within the government. And this has continued, so that civil society is now formally part of the independent monitoring of Indonesia’s forests. Instead of being outside the loop, we’re right in there and will have to operate within the system of this new law.  We all recognise that this law is not perfect. In fact, some people think you can drive a logging truck through it!  But it’s a start and something we intend to build on.

Our meeting, held in Jakarta, was to ensure a commitment from all the groups, individuals and indigenous communities to be part of the Independent Monitoring system that is part of the new law.  Meeting in Jakarta just last week After a day of presentations by officials from both the Indonesian government and the European Union, our meeting went in to an intense 2 day discussion of the details and work plans needed for this to work.   People from all over Indonesia were represented at this meeting, so when we all came together at the end of the smaller group discussions, it was clear that everyone was completely committed to ensuring this would work.  People were placed into responsible positions, work plans from each region were presented and from that, a new network was formed.

Choosing the name for this was an amazing time with everyone involved in throwing a name or names into the mix. And what a result! A new network was born. The Independent Forest Monitoring Network or in Indonesian Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan (JIPIK).

After all the years of being outside the system and having to rely on companies monitoring themselves, JIPIK is there to be the voice for civil society.  And now the real work begins. Our investigations will continue but this time we have an avenue for that information to be formally recognised and acted on.

 

Faith Doherty

Faith Doherty

 

Faith Doherty

EIA Campaigner

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Promising Signs of Hope for Papua’s Forests

Recent news from Indonesia on revisions made to the Papua Provincial Spatial Plan, made public this month, gives rise to significant hopes that large areas of Papua’s forests may be saved from conversion to plantations and agricultural estates, at least in the short-to-medium term.

In late 2009, EIA and our Indonesian partners, Telapak, released Up for Grabs, a report and film revealing the massive scale of the threat to Papua’s last frontier forests from large scale plantations and agriculture expansion.

As the report explained, substantially different visions for land use in Papua are in competition.

On one hand, elements in the central government in Jakarta and local elites in key districts in Papua have been facilitating major investment in plantations and agriculture – with dire consequences for millions of hectares of forests and the people and biodiversity dependent on them.

On the other hand, Papua Province’s Governor Suebu, working with progressive elements locally, nationally and internationally, has been seeking a different low-carbon and pro-Papuan path to development that seeks to protect forests from the business-as-usual model that has decimated Indonesia’s forest estate over the past three decades.

This month, Papua’s government finally registered its Provincial Spatial Plan with the central government. The plan defines land use zoning and functions from 2010 – 2030, and must be incorporated into the national spatial plan.

Under the new plan, Papua’s Protected Forest area has been increased by 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres), a massive 44% increase.

More significantly, the area classified as “Conversion Forest” – the focus of big plantations companies – has been decreased by 2.85 million hectares (around 7 million acres), also a 44% decrease.

This is fantastic news, sending a clear signal to supporters of major plantations expansion in Papua that such land is no longer up for grabs. Under Indonesia’s old forest function classifications, a whopping 9 million hectares of Papua’s forests were classified as “Conversion Forest”.Copyright Mark Gudmens

The new plan also decreases the area classified as “Production Forest” (forests allocated for industrial logging) by 4.9 million hectares, or 12 million acres, a huge 60% reduction. Mush of this land is now reclassified as protected forest and as “Limited Production Forest” – placing environmental and social constraints on industrial logging that the Governor and Papuans more widely hope will translate into sustainable community forestry by Papuans themselves.

One significant area of contention these changes have effected is the Merauke Integrated Food & Energy Estate (MIFEE), a controversial central government plan to convert between 1.2 and 1.7 million hectares of Merauke District into mechanised oil palm, sugar, and industrial timber plantations, with finance from China, the Middle East, South Korea, and some of Indonesia’s most aggressive deforesters.

Copyright EIAMIFEE has been widely criticised by Indonesian campaigners, who have highlighted, amongst other issues, the serious environmental, human rights and demographic threats to Papuans from the project. The project was “launched” by the central government before the Merauke government’s Spatial Plan had been agreed. Papua’s new spatial plan now limits the scheme to just 500,000 hectares, theoretically saving at least 700,000 hectares of forest from conversion in just one project area.

How Papua’s new land classifications are respected by central government planners, and those at the district level, is yet to be seen, and the plan must still be agreed by Parliament in Jakarta. However, with Indonesia aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 26%, largely from the forestry and land use sectors, Papua’s revisions offer the country a clear route to achieving these aims. Papua embodies the largest areas of remaining forests and peatland in the entire country – a fact not lost on Governor Suebu, who has repeatedly explained that “the capacity of Papua’s 42 million hectares (104 million acres) of forests to process CO2 is equivalent to the carbon footprint of nearly all the population of Europe”.

Jago Wadley

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Copyright EIA/TelepakOther good news from Indonesia in the past month relates to timber legality and trade. On the 1st September, Indonesia’s SVLK (Timber Legality Verification System) came into force, having been passed by a Minister of Forestry Regulation in 2009 (No P.38/Menhut-II/2009). Telapak have been centrally involved in the development of this standard over the years, with our joint exposes of illegal logging and timber smuggling helping develop the political and commercial space required to enact it.

While the SVLK is mandatory for all timber producers and traders in Indonesia, it is also the basis of a timber licensing system that will be a central plank of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union, which is now expected to be signed by the end of this year. VPAs are key elements of the European Commission’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative, the EU’s core policy on illegal logging and trade.

This follows the passage of the European Illegal Timber Regulation in June this year, which will prohibit the placement of illegal timber from countries such as Indonesia on the EU market. The EU law explicitly exempts VPA-licensed timber from the Due Diligence requirements of the regulation, presenting clear incentives for Indonesia and other countries to agree a VPA.

Such developments have been key strategic goals of EIA’s forests campaign, and are testament to the role EIA and Telapak have played in this important issue for over a decade.

But we can’t rest on our laurels.

Next week, EIA and Telapak are organising and hosting a National Indonesian Civil Society Conference on the new legality standard, in Jakarta, where we hope to facilitate the establishment a network of local and national NGOs and community groups to monitor the implementation of the standard – just in case the authorities don’t do so properly themselves.

Why not trust the authorities? One reason is that one of the recently government accredited “auditors” set to certify supply chains for compliance with the legality standard, PT Sucofindo, featured in our latest timber smuggling expose – Rogue Traders – after staff were found to have accepted bribes to allow logs to be smuggled out of the country in containers. Sometime you have to watch the watchmen, and audit the auditors…

Faith Doherty will be updating you on how the conference goes in the not too distant future, so watch this space…

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“I’ve been working in Indonesia for over a decade on EIA’s illegal logging campaign. Despite best intentions my Indonesian language skills stubbornly refuse to progress beyond what I call “taxi driver” level; the ability to chat about the weather, food, football and even a bit of politics while stuck in taxis. It comes in very useful when snarled up in Jakarta’s notorious traffic. One of the first words I ever learned in Indonesian was macet or traffic jam, and varieties such as macet total or gridlock.

I’ve always found good taxi drivers to be an indispensable asset when carrying out an investigation in a strange foreign city, where local knowledge can be vital. Chatting with drivers can also give a quick insight into the pulse of a nation; the issues of most concern to the locals.

Over the last few years on trips to Jakarta the word on the lips of most of the drivers I have encountered is korupsi – corruption. Drivers rail against the country’s endemic corruption; how it keeps the bulk of the population in poverty while a small elite prospers and how it leads to the squander of Indonesia’s natural resources. On occasion, I’ve even witnessed the reasons behind the anger, as my taxi driver is shaken down by the traffic police for a real or imagined offence.

Right now Indonesia is in the midst of a crucial  struggle to tame the corruption which infects every aspect of public life. Current President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came into office on an anti-corruption ticket and the main agency leading the charge has been the Corruption Eradication Commission or KPK. Until 2009 the KPK was making headway, with its clever use of technology such as wiretaps and special courts to try corruption suspects. But when it started going after members of parliament, police and prosecutors (all viewed by the Indonesian public as some of the most corrupt institutions in the country), the dark forces kicked back.

First some members of parliament tried to shut down the special anti-corruption court. Then the police entered the fray. When the KPK had the temerity to wiretap a senior police officer suspected on involvement in banking fraud, the police hit back with allegations that two KPK directors had taken bribes to dismiss a case involving kickbacks paid to secure a lucrative radio systems contract for the country’s Ministry of Forestry. The battle between the police and KPK became known as the crocodiles versus the gekkos and galvanised the public into an effective Facebook campaign to defend the KPK. It culminated in the live television transmission of court proceedings where wiretaps exonerating the KPK were played.

Yet the battle is far from won. In July, the courageous news magazine Tempo published details of senior police officers who held huge sums in their bank accounts. Copies of the magazine mysteriously disappeared from newsstands and an activist from Indonesia Corruption Watch, which had been monitoring police corruption, was badly beaten by unknown assailants.

Forced into a corner the police were compelled to respond. The line they came up with was that of 23 suspicious accounts held by officers, all apart form two involved wealth gained through legitimate business interests, outside of their full-time job in the police, apparently. One of the remaining two accounts was held by an officer based in Papua, called Martin Reno. The police explained that he had already been cleared in court in 2006. EIA knows the Reno case well. I have seen documents detailing a series of payments made to Reno’s bank account by two companies involved in illegal logging in Papua; I’ve even observed his luxurious house in Bali, although I never had chance to track down his portfolio of business investments in Papua and properties in Jakarta. As EIA reported in 2007 in its report The Thousand-Headed Snake, Reno’s acquittal was a classis home town court verdict, with the judge dismissing the case as the main witness did not show up at court; the fact that this witness was one of the timber bosses who had paid Reno and was on the run seemed to escape the judge.

Corruption is a key factor in explaining why major illegal logging culprits in Indonesia continue to evade justice. Last week I was in Jakarta to launch our new report, called Rogue Traders, along with our Indonesian colleagues from Telapak. The report exposes how well-connected individuals are able to smuggle valuable merbau timber out of the country to China, mainly by bribing customs officials and inspection agencies. One of the smugglers, Ricky Gunawan, first came to our attention in 2006. Despite reporting his illegal activities to the authorities of  two occasions, Gunawan remains untouched.

Just before the launch of the report Telapak provided a dossier of our findings to the KPK.  We hope that it will be able to stat looking into the corruption which riddles Indonesia’s forestry sector. That is if it is allowed to do its job of cleaning up and can stand firm against the powerful vested interests currently lining up against it.”

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