Tag Archives: biodiversity

Bolivia: UN Convention on Biodiversity has lost its track

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project has watched the steady takeover of the UNCBD by business interests, which dominate its outcomes.  Now with the Green Economy, the CBD is busily creating schemes to advance the commodification of all life to allow business as usual to continue as long as possible.  The Convention on Biological Diversity has become the Convention on Buying Diversity…

–The GJEP Team

by M Suchitra, Oct 19, 2012.  Source: Down to Earth

Bolivia is one of the few countries that has consistently been opposing treating biodiversity as a commodity at the ongoing Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity at Hyderabad. It has raised its voice against pro-market approaches in implementing the Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets of CBD. Even during the high-level ministerial segment of CoP 11, Bolivia did not leave any room for guessing while expressing its views. Diego Pacheco, head of the Bolivian delegation, explained his country’s stand to M Suchitra. Some excerpts:

Diego Pacheco

Diego Pacheco (photo by M Suchitra)

On many occasions, Bolivia has expressed its apprehensions about the implementation of CBD objectives. How do you view the processes of CBD?

We are totally against mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystems with a profit-oriented, pro-market approach. Natural resources are the treasures of the poor. We are against taking biological resources out of the hands of local communities and indigenous people and making natural resources mere commodities. We believe it is not right to move biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use into plain economic terms to achieve the objectives of the CBD.

Are you saying that CBD has lost its track?

Yes. Why should we conceal the truth? When CBD was concluded for the first time in 1992, before the Earth Summit in Rio, it was considered as something very positive for developing countries. But somewhere along the line CBD has lost its track and now its approaches for implementation of its objectives favour market forces. Through the present mode of mainstreaming biodiversity, CBD gives leverage and power to the private sector and the market forces for utilising the natural resources only for their profits. Everything connected with nature is being commodified, putting at risk the livelihoods of indigenous and local people, and of the common goods. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Cochabamba, Commodification of Life, Commons, Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

David Cook: On the revelations of one square meter of forest

Note: An interview on the wonders of the native forest, an an indirect warning of the dangers in losing the forests to biologically dead and poisoned industrial tree plantations.

–The GJEP Team and the Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees

by David Cook, Source Times Free Press 
Shakerag Hollow is an amazing place.

 To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower. – William Blake

SEWANEE, Tenn. — It was like going down the rabbit hole.

I was on the heels of David Haskell, professor of biology at the University of the South, as he hiked down through the old-growth forest on the edge of campus to an experience that would prove to be profoundly countercultural and radical.

We were going to sit still. In silence. And pay attention … to one square meter of forest.

“Just sit there for a year, and you’ll be all set,” Haskell said jokingly (I think).

Over the course of a year, Haskell hiked a half-mile every other day or so into the Shakerag Forest (named after the way townsfolk beckoned moonshiners by waving a rag) with the single purpose of paying attention to one square meter of forest.

It was an act of contemplative science. He calls the square meter his mandala — a form of sacred art in Buddhist and Hindu cultures. With his scientific mind, he studied the “drama” of the forest ecology. In his spirit, the floor was swept clean.

“Instead of trying to get up in some satellite and see the whole planet, I’m going the other approach,” he said. “Like a pinhole camera.”

As we reached the square meter, Haskell approached it with respect, like it was an old friend.

“In this one square meter, over 200 individual wildflower plants,” he said. “Phenomenal numbers of granddaddy longlegs.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Audio: The sound of a damaged habitat

By Bernie Krause, July 28, 2012. Source: Sunday New York Times

(For audio clips, see bottom of article)

YEARS ago, when selective logging was first introduced, a community near an old-growth forest in the Sierra Nevada was assured that the removal of a few trees here and there would have no impact on the area’s wildlife. Based on the logging company’s guarantees, the local residents agreed to the operation. I was skeptical, however, and requested permission to record the sounds of the habitat before and after the logging.

On June 21, 1988, I recorded a rich dawn chorus in California’s pristine Lincoln Meadow. It was a biome replete with the voices of Lincoln’s sparrows, MacGillivray’s warblers, Williamson’s sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, robins and grosbeaks, as well as squirrels, spring peepers and numerous insects. I captured them all.

When I returned a year later, nothing appeared to have changed at first glance. No stumps or debris — just conifers and lush understory. But to the ear — and to the recorder — the difference was shocking. I’ve returned 15 times since then, and even years later, the density and diversity of voices are still lost. There is a muted hush, broken only by the sound of an occasional sparrow, raptor, raven or sapsucker. The numinous richness of the original biophony is gone.

Lesson: While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures.

Continue reading


Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Anti-fracking Blockade in Pennsylvania’s Moshannon State Forest

Cross-Posted from Marcellus Earth First!, 8 July 2012

Tree-Sitters Halt Hydrofracking Operations

Blockade at EQT frack site in Moshannon State Forest, PA.

Activists from Marcellus Earth First! have erected a slash pile blockade and two tree sits blocking an access road to an EQT hydro-fracking site in Moshannon State Forest in Clearfield County, PA., halting drilling operations set to begin this week. The blockaders were joined by 40 supporters and concerned citizens, who turned around a Halliburton truck. The blockade is trying to stop the further destruction of Pennsylvania’s state forests—more than half of which have already been leased for drilling—and call attention to the devastating effects of hydrofracking on the state’s communities. The sitters’ anchor lines are blocking the road by crossing each other and the road, and if an anchor line is cut a sitter will fall. This action has been coordinated as the post-Rendezvous action. Each Summer Earth First!ers and allies come together to skill share, take part in discussion workshops, and keep it wild in our last remaining wilderness places in the US. Following a week in the woods, we take part in an action in support of the local organizers hosting the camp out, also know as the Round River Rendezvous, or Rondy.

Today’s blockade is the latest in a series of escalating actions of resistance to the destructive impacts of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale. Last May, residents of Butler County occupied the office of State Representative Brian Ellis, demanding accountability for widespread contamination caused by horizontal drilling. In June, seven families, along with dozens of supporters, blocked the entrance to the Riverdale Mobile Home Community to prevent their imminent eviction at the hands of Aqua America PVR. Aqua sought to destroy their homes and construct a water withdrawal facility permitted to extract up to three million gallons of water from the Susquehanna River daily for use in fracking. Residents were able to maintain the blockade for 12 days. On June 17, 1,000 Ohioans stormed the statehouse in Columbus and passed a “people’s resolution” banning hydrofracking. Most recently, a 31-year-old landowner from Athens County, Ohio chained herself to concrete barrels and shut down operations at one of Ohio’s 170 injection wells, which contain about 95% of the toxic and radioactive fracking waste generated from Pennsylvania drilling.

Momentum in the anti-fracking battle will continue to build across the Marcellus and Utica shale regions throughout July. Next weekend, residents from Ohio and beyond will gather at an anti-fracking action camp in Youngstown and prepare to enforce the “people’s resolution” against fracking. The upcoming months show the beginnings of a national rebellion against extractive industry across the board. On July 28, anti-frackers from across the nation will gather in Washington D.C. for “Stop the Frack Attack,” the largest mobilization against fracking ever. In West Virginia, Appalachians and allies will stand together at the “Mountain Mobilization” and shut down an active strip mine the last week of July. In Montana,the “Coal Export Action”, a ten-day campaign of civil disobedience at the beginning of August will target coal shipments from strip mines in the Powder River Basin, overseas. And later in the month, Texas residents have called for the “Tar Sands Blockade” to block the recently approved southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Where the government has failed to act to protect communities and the earth from the ravages of an out-of-control energy industry, the people are rising up to resist. No matter where you live, you have the opportunity to join the fight for our future. Find your place, stand your ground, and in the words of Mother Jones, “Boogie Chilluns.”

For updates go to Marcellus Earth First!


Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Hydrofracking, Pollution, Water

Brazil: Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site

Note: At the same time that Rio+20 Earth Summit participants were wringing their hands over what to do about the destruction of the Earth’s life support systems, Indigenous Peoples in Brazil were taking direct action to stop the devastation of their homeland for a massive dam project being built to power aluminum smelting.

–The GJEP Team

By  Jun 28, 2012

Cross-Posted from Intercontinental Cry

Photo: www.xinguvivo.org.br

Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples from the Xingu River Basin have occupied a Belo Monte Dam construction site on Pimental Island in the Xingu River in Pará, Brazil.

The protest began on June 21st, just a few short days after the Xingu+23 anniversary gathering came to a close. The gathering, which ran parallel to the Rio+20 Summit, marked the first major victory against the Belo Monte Dam since 1989.

Initially the protest was led by a group of about 150 Xikrin Peoples; but after successfully managing to paralyze work at the construction site, the group was joined by representatives from the Juruna, Araweté, Assurini and Parakanã.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

When, where and how wood is used impact carbon emissions from deforestation

Note: Guess what?  Cutting forests to pulp them into paper or burn them for energy is a bad idea for the climate.  Shocking, just shocking…

–The GJEP Team

May 14, 2012

Logged treesWhen wood is used for bioenergy or turned into pulp for paper, nearly all of its carbon is released into the atmosphere.

A new study from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, published May 13 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, reports that the volume of greenhouse gas released when a forest is cleared depends on how the trees will be used and in which part of the world the trees are grown.

When trees are felled to create solid wood products, such as lumber for housing, that wood retains much of its carbon for decades, the researchers found. In contrast, when wood is used for bioenergy or turned into pulp for paper, nearly all of its carbon is released into the atmosphere. Carbon is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

“We found that 30 years after a forest clearing, between 0 percent and 62 percent of carbon from that forest might remain in storage,” said lead author J. Mason Earles, a doctoral student with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “Previous models generally assumed that it was all released immediately.”

The researchers analyzed how 169 countries use harvested forests. They learned that the temperate forests found in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe are cleared primarily for use in solid wood products, while the tropical forests of the Southern Hemisphere are more often cleared for use in energy and paper production.

“Carbon stored in forests outside Europe, the USA and Canada, for example, in tropical climates such as Brazil and Indonesia, will be almost entirely lost shortly after clearance,” the study states.

The study’s findings have potential implications for biofuel incentives based on greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if the United States decides to incentivize corn-based ethanol, less profitable crops, such as soybeans, may shift to other countries. And those countries might clear more forests to make way for the new crops. Where those countries are located and how the wood from those forests is used would affect how much carbon would be released into the atmosphere.

Earles said the study provides new information that could help inform climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.

“This is just one of the pieces that fit into this land-use issue,” said Earles. Land use is a driving factor of climate change. “We hope it will give climate models some concrete data on emissions factors they can use.”

In addition to Earles, the study, “Timing of carbon emissions from global forest clearance,” was co-authored by Sonia Yeh, a research scientist with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and Kenneth E. Skog of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Energy, Forests and Climate Change, Pollution

Germany Considers Extraditing Whale Defender to Costa Rica

Received from ECOTERRA Intl.

Yesterday, 16. 05. 2012, in Frankfurt, Germany the general Public Prosecutor to the Higher Regional Court requested a preliminary extradition arrest warrant against Captain Paul Watson, on the basis of the local arrest warrant and request for extradition from Costa Rica.  In a highly unusual move, the Public Prosecutor stated that the German Ministry of Justice and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the power to stop the extradition procedures on political grounds.

If the German Ministry of Justice and/or the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs give notice that they would not grant an extradition of Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case would be over, and CaptainWatson would be set free immediately.  We ask our supporters to continue to appeal the German Ministry of Justice for help.

Sea Shepherd representatives were able to visit Captain Watson in the Frankfurt prison this morning and they were able to record the following statement from Captain Watson:

In our efforts to defend the lives of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and fish we have made some powerful enemies, most notably the government of Japan. It is no coincidence that the extradition request by Costa Rica was issued the same month (October 2011) as the Japanese whaling (ICR) lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was initiated. The extradition request was in reference to a complaint from Costa Rican fishermen who I caught poaching in Guatemalan waters. The fishermen were not injured and their boat was not damaged. The incident was fully documented for the film Sharkwater. Interpol originally denied this extradition order and deemed it as politically motivated. Therefore the question must be asked why Germany is now taking into account accusations made by illegal poachers.”- Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson has travelled extensively throughout the world since the Costa Rican government issued this arrest warrant in October of 2011.  He has been to Australia, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, etc. None of these countries have sought to arrest Captain Watson as Germany has.

Should Captain Watson be extradited to Costa Rica, he will certainly not receive a fair trial and his safety cannot be guaranteed. Sea Shepherd is doing everything it can to provide Captain Watson the best legal defense team possible.  Between the illegal Japanese whalers and the shark finning mafia in Costa Rica, Captain Watson has formidable enemies who seek to stop his efforts to defend marine life.

Your generous donation will help keep Captain Watson out of harm’s way, and will allow him to fulfill his mission: to protect marine creatures while there is still hope.

Statement from Captain Watson’s Attorney Oliver Wallasch:
Sea Shepherd press conference, Germany Frankfurt airport, May 16, 2012

Dear all,

Today I received the request from the general public prosecutor in Frankfurt to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt to issue a preliminary extradition arrest warrant against Paul WATSON on the basis of the local arrest warrant and the request for extradition from Costa Rica. The general public prosecutor gives notice, that the Costa Rican authorities have asked for extradition on a charge which is also a criminal act under the German law (dual criminality rule); the general public prosecutor is concerned that the preliminary arrest is necessary because of the likelihood of an escape of the client.

At this stage of the procedure we do not have all the evidence and we do not have any extradition papers from the Costa Rican authorities Therefore the public prosecutor only asks for a preliminary extradition warrant; he does not ask for a decision of the court concerning the extradition itself. Absolutely unusual – I never had this experience in all my practice in cross border cases – is the fact, that the public prosecutor stated, that the German Ministry of justice and the German Ministry of foreign affairs have the power to stop the extradition procedure on political reasons.

If the German Ministry of justice and/or the German Ministry of foreign affairs give notice, that they would not grant an extradition from Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case will be over, and Paul Watson will be set free immediately. For an independent public prosecutor this statement is absolutely unusual, and gives a hint, that is not an ordinary extradition case, but to be handled also on the political level.

Please click here to donate to Captain Watson’s legal defense fund

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Political Repression, Water

Report from the International Joint People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in Rio

For the unity and mobilization of the people in defense of life and the common good, social justice and environmental against the commodification of nature and “green economy”

Rio de Janeiro, May 12, 2012

A month before the UN Conference Rio +20, the world’s people do not see positive results of the negotiation process that is taking place in the lead up to the official conference. There is no discussion in the agreements reached in Rio+20 about how to change the causes of the crisis. The focus of the discussion is a package of proposals misleadingly called the “green economy” and the establishment of a new system of international environmental governance to facilitate it.

The real cause of the multiple structural crisis of capitalism, with its classical forms of domination, which concentrates wealth and produces social inequality, unemployment, violence against the people, and the criminalization of those who report it. The current system of consumption and production – maintained by large corporations, financial markets and governments – produces and deepens crises of global warming, hunger and malnutrition, loss of forests and biological and socio-cultural diversity, chemical pollution, water scarcity, increasing desertification of soils, acidification of the seas, land grabbing and the commodification of all aspects of life in cities and the countryside.

The “green economy”, contrary to what its name suggests, is another phase of capitalist accumulation. Nothing in the “green economy” questions the current economy based in the extractive and fossil fuels, nor the patterns of consumption and industrial production, but extends the economy into new areas, feeding the myth of that economic growth can be infinite.

The failed economic model, now dressed in green, aims to bring all life cycles of nature to the market rules and the domain of technology, privatization and commodification of nature and its functions, as well as traditional knowledge, increasing speculative financial markets through carbon markets for environmental services, biodiversity offsets and REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

GMOs, agrochemicals, Terminator technology, biofuels, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, artificial life, geo-engineering and nuclear power, among others, are presented as “technological solutions” to the natural limits of the planet and the many crises, without addressing the real causes that provoke them.

The Green Economy also promotes the expansion of the agro-industrial food system, which is one of the biggest factors leading to climate change, environmental, economic and social crises; the speculation in food, and the promotion of the interests of agribusiness corporations at the expense of production local peasant family, indigenous peoples and traditional populations and affecting the health of entire populations.

As a trading strategy in the Rio +20 conference, some governments in rich countries are proposing a setback of 1992 Rio Principles, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the precautionary principle, the right to information and participation, and threatening already established rights, such as the rights of  indigenous and traditional peoples, peasants, the human right to water, the rights of workers, migrants, the right to food, housing, the rights of youth and women, the right to sexual and reproductive health, education and cultural rights.

They are also trying to install so-called Sustainable Development Objectives (ODS) to be used to promote “green economy”, further weakening the already inadequate Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The official process aims to establish global environmental governance forms that serve as managers and facilitators of this “green economy”, giving prominence to the World Bank and other public or private financial institutions, international and national, which will provide a new cycle of indebtedness and structural adjustments dressed in green.

There can be no democratic global governance without ending the current corporate capture of the United Nations.

We reject this process and call for strengthening and building alternatives demonstrations around the world.

We fight for a radical change from the current model of production and consumption, solidifying our right to develop alternative models based on the multiple realities and experiences of the people that are genuinely democratic, respect human rights and are in harmony with nature and social and environmental justice.

We raise the assertion and collective construction of new paradigms based on food sovereignty, agro-ecology and the solidarity economy, the defense of life and the commons, the affirmation of all the threatened rights, the right to land and territory, the rights of nature and future generations, the elimination of all forms of colonialism and imperialism.

We call on people everywhere to support the Brazilian people’s struggle against the destruction of a major legal frameworks for the protection of forests (Forestry Code), which opens avenues for further deforestation in favor of the interests of agribusiness and enlargement of the monocultures, and against the implementation of mega hydro-electric dam–the Belo Monte, which is affecting the survival and livelihoods of forest peoples and the Amazonian biodiversity.

We reiterate the call to participate in the People’s Summit to be held from 15 to 23 June in Rio de Janeiro, which will be an important point in the trajectory of the global struggles for social and environmental justice that we are building since The first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, particularly building from Seattle, FSM, Cochabamba, where the struggles against the WTO and the FTAA were catapulted, for climate justice and against the G-20. Are also included mass mobilizations as Occupy, and Arab Spring.

We call for a global mobilization on 5 June (World Environment day), on June 18 against the G20 (which this time will focus on “green growth”) and the progress of the People’s Summit on 20 June in Rio de Janeiro and in the world, social and environmental justice, against the “green economy”, the commodification of life and nature and the defense of the commons and rights of peoples.


Group’s international joint People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Forests and Climate Change, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rio+20

Sign on: International Organizations Condemn IKEA’s Logging of Russia’s Old-growth Forests

May 16th, 2012

The Swedish-owned international furniture retailer, IKEA, is logging old-growth forests and other high conservation value forests in Russian Karelia[1] through its subsidiary Swedwood. 

A petition has been launched by Swedish NGO Protect the Forest to help change IKEA and Swedwood’s destructive ways. Now other environmental organizations from all over the world are also expressing their concern and outrage.

The Protect the Forest petition is addressed to the management of IKEA and Swedwood, with five demands for a more trustworthy IKEA. Anyone wanting to protest IKEA’s logging of old-growth forest is invited to sign the petition. Read more about the campaign and the petition at www.protecttheforest.se/ikea/en

The Global Forest Coalition (an alliance of NGOs with members in more than 40 countries) strongly condemns IKEA’s forest destruction activities in Russia. Swedish NGO Protect the Forest, a Global Forest Coalition member, and Russian environmental organization SPOK, conducted a field inspection in Russian Karelia, which revealed that IKEA’s wholly-owned subsidiary Swedwood had clear-cut forests with high biodiversity value and very old trees.

Swedwood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which claims to ensure ‘responsibly managed forests’. “The company NEPCon, which certifies that Swedwood’s forestry complies with FSC standards, allows the logging of trees which are 200-600 years old,” said Linda Ellegaard Nordström, board member of Protect the Forest. “This is nothing but a scandal!”.

IKEA is also not paying enough attention to the social impacts of their logging activities in Russian Karelia. A lack of dialogue and low wages are some of the problems. According to Andrei Laletin of Friends of the Siberian Forests, Global Forest Coalition focal point in Russia, “It is very sad that forests that have taken centuries to mature can be lost in a few days. Thanks to IKEA’s promotion of the mass-consumption of cheap timber products, people’s appreciation of the true value of old forests is being undermined, and this threatens the rights of future generations to enjoy the benefits of our forest heritage.”

Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa, added: “The heavily green-washed ‘Swedish forestry model’, which promotes the destructive practice of logging old-growth forests, and replacement with monoculture tree plantations, is causing serious damage to forest ecosystems in many different countries. This leads to increased biodiversity loss, greater flooding and soil erosion, accelerated climate change, and also impacts severely on local communities whose wellbeing depends on healthy intact forests.”

Speaking for the Global Forest Coalition, the Executive Director, Simone Lovera, stated: “Whoever is responsible for this destruction, in this case the owners of IKEA and Swedwood, must be held responsible for the social and environmental costs of their companies’ actions. I suggest Protect the Forest and SPOK should consider all possible options, including legal action against IKEA, in order to correct the situation.”

The Protect the Forest petition is addressed to the management of IKEA and Swedwood, with five demands for a more trustworthy IKEA. Anyone wanting to protest IKEA’s logging of old-growth forest is invited to sign the petition. Read more about the campaign and the petition at www.protecttheforest.se/ikea/en

Free press photos of Swedwood’s controversial loggings in Russian Karelia can be found here: http://www.protecttheforest.se/ikea/en/photographic-evidence

IKEA’s reply to Protect the Forest’s criticism can be found here

Examples of forest loggings in other parts of the world:

Clear-felling threatens the already decimated forests of Tasmania in order to produce wood chips. See http://www.wilderness.org.au/regions/tasmania/tasmanias-irreplaceable-forests

Veracel, a joint venture between the Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso and Brazilian-Norwegian Aracruz, obtains forest land in Brasil for planting monocultures of eucalyptus and builds polluting pulp mills. Seehttp://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/67/Brazil.html

Read more about the underlying causes of forest loss and market-based conservation here: 




1 Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Land Grabs

Indonesia: Destroying Tripa peat swamp forest is “an act of criminal vandalism”

By Chris Lang, 15th May 2012

Cross-Posted from REDD-Monitor

Indonesia: Destroying Tripa peat swamp forest is an act of criminal vandalism

“Now is the time for action not words here in Tripa. To destroy one of the last great areas of peat swamp forest in Sumatra is an act of criminal vandalism.” That was written in 2008, but if anything, it’s even more relevant today than it was then.

While the destruction of the Tripa peat swamp forest has continued since 2008, in recent months the campaign to stop the destruction hasincreased in intensity, focussed on a company called PT Kalista Alam. As a result, high level government officials are taking an interest in what’s happening in Tripa. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of Indonesia’s REDD+ task force, recently said that “Opening a plantation inside a protected swamp area has clearly broken the law.”

Last week, H Azwir, the head of Nagan Raya Regency, demanded that PT Kalista Alam stop clearing peat swamp forest in Tripa. He said that the company did not have permission to convert the forest to an oil palm plantation.

Elfian Effendi, head of Greenomics Indonesia, is sceptical about whether Azwir can revoke the company’s permit. He told mongabay.com that,

“The acting regent has the power to ask the company to stop the operation based on certain considerations, especially legal aspects. However, the acting regent has no power to revoke the permit because PT Kalista Alam’s permit was issued by the Aceh Governor.”

While companies clearing the Tripa peat swamp have so far operated with legal impunity, farmers who remove as little as a piece of wood from a plantation face arrest. On 13 May 2012, the Jakarta Globe reported that a farmer in in Kendal, Central Java, has been detained for three months after he sold a piece of wood that he found in a plantation. He faces a ten year sentence and a huge fine. He sold the wood for US$65.

For German speakers, journalist Norbert Lübbers from NDR visited Tripa and his report, “The Expulsion of the Orangutans”, was broadcast last week (click on the image below to watch the film).

Die Vertreibung der Orang-Utans

PT Kalista Alam declined to be interviewed. Timbas P. Ginting from GAPKI (the Indonesia Palm Oil Association, whose slogan is “Develop Indonesia with Palm Oil”) explains that,

“Maybe there are one or two companies whose operations are not completely clean. But they are the exception, you cannot make the entire industry responsible. Most of them follow the law.”

Regardless of whether or not it is true that most companies follow the law, when a company does break the law, it must be held responsible. As Ian Singleton, the Director of theSumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, points out,

“The existing laws must be applied consistently. That’s the only thing that helps. You have to make them aware that there are laws. And if they break they law they’ll be prosecuted!”

There is little doubt that clearing the Tripa peat swamp forest is “an act of criminal vandalism”. The question is what action the Indonesian authorities take now, first to hold those responsible for the destruction accountable and second to prevent the same sort of destruction from happening elsewhere in the country.

Last week two press releases came out about Tripa. The first is from the Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Forest and focusses on revoking the palm oil permits and criminal prosecution of those responsible for destroying the forest. The second is from Greenomics Indonesia and focusses on the breach of the moratorium on forest concessions.

National Police Investigation in Tripa requires palm oil permits immediately revoked and criminal prosecution to avoid greater embarrassment to Indonesian credibility.




[06/05/2012 - JAKARTA / Indonesia]

The National Police Investigation in Tripa must result in permits revoked and criminal prosecution to avoid greater embarrassment to Indonesian credibility.

After months of inaction allowing the accelerated destruction of the remaining forests of Tripa Peat Swamps, Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and National Police have finally begun a field investigation into crimes being committed in the Nagan Raya District of Aceh Province, this was followed by a field inspection by The Head of Ministry of Forestry today.

The investigation team arrived in Banda Aceh Thursday, and today is returning to Jakarta from the Tripa Peat Swamps after collecting evidence, including indications of the use of fire for land clearing, the clearing of deep peat lands, and violation of National Spatial Planning, all illegal under Indonesia law.

Zulkifli Hasan, The Minister of Forestry addressing a crowd of concerned community in Ujung Tanjung village today said “Tripa should be protected and restored, but this is not within my jurisdiction. But because I support the request to save Tripa, I will do what I can to make sure community request is fulfilled by relevant Authority, Bupati and Governor”.

The Coalition for the Protection of the Tripa Peat Swamps who initiated legal action to protect Tripa in November last year, strongly welcomes the field investigation, and supporting statements from the Head of Forestry, but warns actions, not words are needed to protect and restore Tripa.

“For the investigation to have any relevant meaning it must result in the revoking of permits, criminal prosecution of palm oil companies who continue to operate outside the law, Government Officials who violate National Spatial Planning Law, the restitution of land, and the restoration of the protected peat forest” said Kamaruddin, the lawyer representing local community members who reported environmental crimes being committed in Tripa to the National Police in November last year.

He continued: “We have witnessed the collusion of Provincial Police with the Palm Oil companies who operate in the Tripa Peat Swamps. Over 5 months ago a directive was sent by the National Police to the Aceh Provincial Police ordering them to investigate the illegal issuance of permit number No. 525/BP2T/ 5322/2011 which very clearly was in violation of National Spatial Planning Law 26/2007. Breaking National Spatial Planning Law is a criminal offence for any level of Government or Company and violations must be prosecuted.”

“Until the arrival of the National REDD+ Taskforce, the Ministry of the Environment, Attorney General’s Office and National Police, the local Aceh Police made NO effort to investigate. It is only now due to the presence of leading National Indonesian Authorities that any investigation is taking place, but it must not fall into the same trap of collusion as displayed by local authorities”.

“The multi-stake holder investigation team has now also become witness to crimes committed and poorly attempted deception from the companies first hand”. Said Deddy Raith, Forest Campaigner for Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia). “The team witnessed the illegal clearing taking place inside the Nationally Protected Leuser Ecosystem, and been privy to the lies and misinformation from the palm oil companies”. He continued.

“The real test is now how much more illegal destruction the investigation team accept. The companies must immediately be forced to stop work and close the canals draining and degrading the ecosystem in Tripa. National Police must take over the handling of the case and rapidly work towards the criminal prosecution of all violators of crimes in Tripa”.

“For National Police and investigators not to take over now they have evidence, it will be suspected they have colluded with Aceh Police and also under the control of the companies, there is too much at stake to allow this investigation to fail.”

“Tripa is a litmus test for the legitimacy of the rule of law in Indonesia because if, in the face of such blatant and highly reported illegality, the Indonesia government does not take decisive action, it is as much as an acknowledgment that enforcement is selective and the laws are not worth the paper they are written on”. Deddy concluded.

For further media comment, please contact:

Deddy Ratih
Walhi / Friends of the Earth Indonesia Forest Campaigner:
Mobile: +62 81250 8077 57
Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com

Acehnesse Lawyer representing Community and Environment in Tripa Case
Mobile: +62 8116 7001 18
Email: kamaruddinaceh@yahoo.co.id

Greenomics Indonesia

Press statement in support of revision of PT Kalista Alam’s palm oil plantation concession in Moratorium Indicative Map

Supporting the Requests of the Chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce to the Minister of Forestry and the Ministry of Forestry to the National Land Agency

(Jakarta, 10 May 2012) – The letter of 18 April 2012 from Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce, to the Minister of Forestry regarding the updating of the status of PT Kalista Alam’s palm oil plantation concession on the Moratorium Indicative Map and the Ministry of Forestry’s response to the said letter are noteworthy as they reflect the extent to which Indonesia’s forestry sector moratorium is being implemented. The moratorium was launched by President Yudhoyono on 20 May 2011.

Greenomics Indonesia is of the view that these two letters are of major significance as regards the updating of the said Moratorium Indicative Map.

First of all, let us consider the letter from the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce to the Minister of Forestry, which commences with a chronology concerning the licensing and status of the PT Kalista Alam concession area as shown on the Moratorium Indicative Map. The sequence of events set out in the said chronology is as follows: 1) On 25 August 2011, the Governor of Aceh issued a palm oil plantation license to PT Kalista Alam covering 1,605 hectares in the Rawa Tripa Aceh area; 2) the said area, as mapped by Minister of Forestry Decree No. 323/2011 (dated 17 June 2011), comes within the area covered by the moratorium map; and 3) the PT Kalista Alam concession is not included in the revised Moratorium Indicative Map adopted by virtue of Minister of Forestry Decree No. 7416/2011 (dated 22 November 2011). The exclusion of the PT Kalista Alam concession was based on confirmation by the National Land Agency (BPN) that Land Title Rights (HGU) had been granted in respect of the concession.

The letter from the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce then stated that the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce had received complaints regarding this situation, and had in consequence conducted a field investigation on 1-3 April 2012, during which it was found that: 1) the 1,605 hectares of the PT Kalista Alam were not subject to HGU granted in the name of PT Kalista Alam or any other company; and 2) PT Kalista Alam had been issued with a Location Permit by the Regent of Nagan Raya – the said permit was valid for 3 years and expired on 5 February 2011.

The letter then pointed out that the findings of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce had been verified with the BPN on 12 April 2012, and the BPN had confirmed the findings.

Regarding land conditions on the ground, the letter said that its field investigations had found that part of the PT Kalista Alam concession had been planted with palms and other parts were ready for planting, while the remainder of the concession was still under forest cover. The Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce then pointed out that based on PT Kalista Alam’s environmental management and monitoring documents (UKL/UPL), the bulk of the concession consisted of peatland. The letter from the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce was accompanied by maps, photographs and relevant documents.

In conclusion, the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce asked the Minister of Forestry to study the matter in the light of the presidential instruction on the moratorium, and to reincorporate the PT Kalista Alam concession as moratorium land.

It is also interesting to study the response of the Director General of Planology – who signed the Moratorium Indicative Map on behalf of the Minister of Forestry – to the letter from the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce, having regard to the Director General’s letter of 4 May 2012 to the Head of the Head of National Land Agency, which was copied to, among other recipients, the Minister of Forestry and the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce.

In the said letter, it is stated that the final discussions on the first revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map were held on 18 November 2011. Among those attending the said discussions were representatives of the UKP4 (Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development), Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, the National Land Certification Coordinating Board (Bakosurtanal) and the BPN. Following the final discussions, Minister of Forestry Decree No. 7416/2011 (on the first revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map) was issued on 22 November 2011.

In the Director General’s letter, it was stated that, according to the letter from the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce, verification with the BPN had confirmed that no HGU had been issued in respect of the PT Kalista Alam concession area. The Director General’s letter then pointed out that there were differences in the data that had been received by the Ministry of Forestry from the BPN at the time the revised Moratorium Indicative Map was being prepared, and the data that had been supplied by the BPN to the UKP4.

In the light of this, the Director General sought clarification of all of the relevant licensing data and information supplied from the BPN for use in the preparation of the first revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map, and in particular the data on the PT Kalista Alam concession, as input for the preparation of the second revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map, which is due to be issued this month (May 2012).

Greenomics Indonesia views the purport of these two letters as follows:

    1. The Ministry of Forestry wishes to confirm that the excising of the PT Kalista Alam concession from the Moratorium Indicative Map has a valid basis, namely, data supplied by the BPN. In reality, the draft first revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map was determined following discussions with a variety of government-related parties, such as the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce/UKP4, BPN, Ministry of Agriculture, etc., prior to being legally adopted by virtue of Minister of Forestry Decree No. 7416/2011 (dated 22 November 2011).
    1. The acknowledgement by the Ministry of Forestry that there were differences in the data on the PT Kalista Alam concession supplied to the Ministry by the BPN and that supplied by the BPN to the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce gives rise to serious question marks over the credibility and quality of the overall data used in the Moratorium Indicative Map, especially given that the Ministry of Forestry has requested confirmation of all of licensing data and information from the BPN, not just the data that is relevant to PT Kalista Alam.
    1. Strangely, in respect of the excising of 4.8 million hectares of peatland from the first revision of the Moratorium Indicative Map (by virtue of of Minister of Forestry Decree No. 7416/2011), the Ministry of Forestry Decree claimed that this revision was based on a field survey. However, the PT Kalista Alam case clearly shows that the quality or comprehensiveness of this field survey is in serious doubt, particularly as regards the definition of the term “field survey” as employed by the Ministry of Forestry Decree.
  1. As regards the request by the Ministry of Forestry that the BPN clarify all licensing data and information that is being used in the preparation of the second revision to the Moratorium Indicative Map, which is due to be issued this month (May 2012), the question that immediately comes to mind is whether in fact it will be possible to clarify all this data and information in the time available? This is a fundamental question, and is likely to give rise to serious doubts over the accuracy of the second revision to the Moratorium Indicative Map.

In the light of the above discussion, Greenomics Indonesia fully supports:

    1. The request by the chairman of the Indonesia REDD+ Taskforce to the Minister of Forestry to restore the status of the PT Kalista Alam concession to moratorium land, and for this to be confirmed in the second revision to the Moratorium Indicative Map to be published this May.
  1. The request of the Ministry of Forestry to the BPN to clarify all of the licensing data and information supplied by the BPN as this data and information is crucial to the credibility and quality of the second revision to the Moratorium Indicative Map.

For further information please contact:
Elfian Effendi
Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, REDD