Oil Palm and peatlands - page10
No. 75 November 2007
The Indonesian translation
of FPP’s June 2007 report
on ‘Avoided Deforestation’ is
now available from:
office: 59 Athenlay Rd, London SE15 3EN, England, email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel/fax: +44 16977 46266 website:http://dte.gn.apc.org
Oil palm plantations? Carbon credits?
Papua's forests targeted
Large areas of Papua's rich and diverse forests are being targeted by Indonesian and overseas
investors for conversion into oil palm plantations. At the same time, discussions are in progress to
reserve large areas of Papua's forest to generate carbon credits for trade on international markets.
Decisions about these developments will very probably be made over the heads of the people who
will be most directly affected by them: the indigenous Papuan communities whose livelihoods largely
depend on the resources in their forests.
Indigenous Papuans have borne the negative not surprising that poverty levels among the protect the forests at all, and what
impacts of top-down development for indigenous population remain high - despite implications they will have for local forest-
decades - from Indonesia's disastrous the fact that Papua's income has risen steeply dependent communities whose forests are
transmigration scheme, in which indigenous after the introduction of regional autonomy targeted (see also DTE 74:1).
forest land was taken for agricultural schemes revenue-sharing rules. Since ‘special
involving imported Javanese labour1, to the autonomy’ for Papua was Indonesia's means Oil Palm Plantations
giant Freeport/Rio Tinto gold and copper of undermining calls for independence, the Exactly how much Papuan land is being set
mine. Since the 1970s the Freeport mine has fact that poverty levels remain so high is aside for oil palm plantations is not clear, but
carved up Papua's mountains to get at the troubling the Jakarta government. Earlier this recent announcements range from one
valuable minerals, and has dumped billions of year, president SBY issued a decree aimed at million hectares to be developed very soon,
tonnes of mining waste downstream. speeding up development in Papua. But, as yet to four or even five million hectares in the
'Development' has also meant dividing up another top-down initiative, this is unlikely to next ten years4. According to Indonesia's
Papua's indigenous-owned forests for logging bring positive results while more fundamental Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM)
and for oil and gas exploration. Though it problems are left untouched3. there are over two million hectares of land in
attempts to present a community-friendly The latest schemes being talked Papua available for oil palm development.
face, the BP-operated Tangguh gas project in about for Papua are a major expansion in oil Most of this (1.935 million ha) is spread
Bintuni Bay shares with all these projects the palm plantations and setting aside forests for through nine districts in Papua province, with
fact that it is large-scale, decided and directed international carbon markets. The first of the remaining 150,000 ha in the recently
by non-Papuans and is largely aimed at these appears to be very much in the mould renamed 'West Papua' province5. BKPM
benefiting outsiders2. Underlying all of these of previous schemes (top-down, export-
imposed projects, is the stark fact that Papua's orientated, involves overseas companies,
political status is an imposition in itself, as takes over indigenous-owned lands and is Inside....
Papua's 1969's 'Act of Free Choice' - on being promoted by Jakarta). The second is Palm oil:
whether or not to be part of Indonesia - has different in two main ways: it aims to create
Industry launches PR campaign 5
been shown to be a total sham. This means income by protecting a resource, rather than
that any opposition to such schemes from directly exploiting (and exhausting) it, and it is Oil palm and Aceh:
local people is open to interpretation by being promoted not by Jakarta, but by Papua's Aceh’s golden crop? 8
Jakarta as security problem to be countered governor, Barnabas Suebu. From a purely Climate change:
with military force. environmental perspective, the idea of Peatlands and climate change 10
Given this historical mix of protecting forests for carbon credits may be Indigenous Peoples:
imposition, export-orientated resource attractive, but there are serious questions First Indigenous Forest Festival 12
exploitation and military enforcement, it is over how effectively such schemes will
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
classifies this land as 'state and
Palm oil in Papua
customary/collective land' (Tanah Negara &
The BKPM data states that land District Used for oil palm (ha) Available for oil palm (ha) Status of land
already taken for oil palm schemes covers
around 90,000 hectares in Papua, and around Boven Digul - 300,000 State and community
30,000 in West Papua. According to Jayapura 51,589 90,000 State and community
Department of Agriculture data, Papua has Keerom 6,000 100,000 State and community
three oil palm production units with a Mappi - 800,000 State and community
processing capacity of 120 tonnes of fresh
Merauke 500 400,000 State and community
palm oil fruits per hour7.
Nabire - 35,000 State and community
Sawit Watch, the Indonesian NGO
network working on oil palm issues, puts oil Paniai - 60,000 State and community
palm expansion plans for Papua at the higher Puncakjaya - 100,000 State and community
figure of 3 million hectares, but has lower Sarmi 31,738 - State and community
estimates for existing plantation cover at Waropen - 50,000 State and community
40,889 hectares. According to these figures,
Papua's expansion plans are second only to TOTAL 89, 827 1, 935, 000
West Kalimantan (5 million hectares) and are
the same as those of Riau province in
Source: BKPM website accessed 27/Oct/2007; data updated Jan 2007;
A much higher figure for land
available for biofuel development (oil palm,
plus other biofuel crops) is given by Note: some of these figures may conflict with other sources: eg in the ICG report which
Indonesia’s National Team on Biofuel states that in Boven Digul district, Korindo has cleared around 4,000 ha of a 7,000 ha oil
Development, which puts land available in palm block in the southern part of the district. See Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on
Papua at a staggering 9,262,130 hectares, at the Conflict, Crisis Group Aisa Briefing No 66, July 2007, p.7)
least three times higher than in any other
province9. 200,000 hectares in each district13. (CNOOC Singaporean and Chinese investors, is also
The Jakarta government says that is also a shareholder in the BP-operated reported to be interested in developing
biofuel development will only go ahead on Tangguh gas project in Bintuni Bay, West biofuel from sago16.
non-productive forest land, but in Papua, as Papua.) For Indonesia as a whole, according
elsewhere, it is clear that timber-rich forests But, according to a document seen to Business Watch Indonesia, by early 2007 as
are being set aside for such schemes. by the Straits Times, Sinar Mas' 'wish-list' plans many as sixty agreements on biofuel
Using just the lower estimates for are much more ambitious, covering a massive development projects, including 14 foreign
land targeted for oil palm, this means that 2.8 million hectares: 603,000 ha in Merauke, investors, had been signed17.
between one fifth and one third of Papua's 9.3 637,000 ha in Mappi and 914,000 ha in Boven
million hectares of 'conversion' forests are Digul plus large areas in three other districts Oil palm's murky record
likely to be targeted for oil palm under north of the central highlands: Sarmi Based on past experience, such large-scale
government plans. Papua is estimated to have (313,000ha), Keerom (186,000ha) and projects bring potential for conflict, human
around 17.9 million hectares of intact forests Jayapura (163,000ha)14. In all cases, except rights abuses and marginalisation of people at
of a total official forest zone of 39.7 million Mappi district, these figures exceed the official the local level.
ha10, but these are diminishing fast as figure for land available for oil palm A report by ICG, published in July
destructive logging by legal and illegal development as set out by Indonesia's this year, reveals chronic problems with
operations takes its toll11. Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM)15. existing plantations developed by Korean
Some of the plans for Papua are Other investors interested in investor Korindo in Boven Digul district, in
well-advanced. In April, governor Suebu said buying into Papua's oil palm for biofuel rush the southern part of Papua. These problems
that he had agreed to release a million are reported to include: relate to land rights, access to resources and
hectares of indigenous land for oil palm the influx of non-Papuan workers. ICG
investment, at the request of three investors Malaysia’s Genting Bhd, through its estimates that if Sinar Mas goes ahead with its
alone.Two of these are Indonesian (Sinar Mas Singapore-based company, Genting projects in southern Papua (200,000 hectares
Group, Medco Group) and the other is Biofuels Asia Pte Ltd: US$3 billion for a in three districts), each project would require
Malaysian (Felda). The focus would be 400,000 ha palm oil plantation for biofuels; 60,000 workers, meaning in Boven Digul's
biodiesel markets, he said, and would make case, "an influx of 42,000 non-Papuans - a
Papua a source of energy for countries Indonesia's Muting Mekar Hijau: 540,000 number larger than the entire district's
starting to run short of fossil fuels. "Now is hectares of palm oil and sugar; current population."18
the era of green energy, no longer fossil Recent reports from the Institute
energy", he said12. Indonesia's Rajawali Corp (Keerom for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights
Sinar Mas, the huge pulp and paper district); indicate how such explosive situations can
conglomerate whose interests include south- turn violent. In July the group reported that a
east Asia's biggest paper pulp plant, has plans Indomal: 300,000 ha of oil palm in West Papuan man was dying in hospital after
for oil palm mostly in the southern part of Merauke and Sula (North Maluku) being tortured by members of the military at
Papua, in the districts of Mappi, Boven Digul districts. a military base at Asiki, near the Korindo
and Merauke.This company, which is in a joint concession. The following month, the group
venture with China's CNOOC (China A company called Trans Pacific, a reported the death of a non-Papuan Korindo
National Offshore Oil Corporation), has joint venture between Indonesian, employee in a clash between company
signed memorandums of understanding for
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
Districts indicating planned and/or existing oil palm plantations in ‘West Papua’ (left) and ‘Papua’ (right) provinces, according to Indonesia’s Investment
Coordinating Board (BKPM).
The districts in West Papua with existing plantations are: Kaimana, and Telukbintuni (neither of which have more land available).The totals for West
Papua are: 30,171ha of land already used, and 150,000 for land still available for oil palm.
For more information on Papua, see Table, page 2.
(Source BKPM website, accessed November 2007, Links from http://regionalinvestment.com/sipid/id/commodity.php?ic=2)
workers and indigenous Muyu. Local people Papuans have little recourse to the skyrocketed, with the new demand for
had previously reported the death of at least law due to the continuing low status of biofuels, there is more of an incentive for
one Papuan killed by the military. "The recent indigenous rights under Indonesian law. This companies to actually develop the plantations
violence …appears to be as a result of means indigenous groups have almost no after logging the timber. However, with a
longstanding dispute[s] over land rights effective protection from competing land use company like Sinar Mas, which owns pulp
between Korindo and local indigenous rights awarded by district, provincial or mills whose capacity for processing timber far
traditional landowners," said Matthew central authorities. Despite a general outstrips the legal supply, accessing Papua's
Jamieson of IPAHR. "Ultimately the conflict provision for respecting customary rights forests is likely to still be a major motivation
over the expansion of oil palms is driven by under Papua's Special Autonomy law, their for investment (for more background on
international demand for bio-fuel.This will legal status has still not been clarified. A Sinar Mas-APP’s pulp project see DTE 52:14,
involve the destruction of millions of hectares required special regional regulation (Perdasus) 56:4 and 61:16).
of rainforest and with it the indigenous on land rights and forestry which was drafted
populations who have lived in and managed in 2006 (see DTE 69:11) has not yet been Doubts?
these forests for thousands of years", said debated by the provincial parliament20. Governor Bas Suebu has portrayed himself as
Jamieson19. Elsewhere in Indonesia, palm oil an enthusiastic supporter of oil palm
plantations are associated with pollution expansion in Papua. A Bisnis Indonesia report
problems and pesticide use, which have a
Impunity disproportionate impact on women's health
in April this year quoted the governor's
The fact that the military and police are at calculations that 2 million hectares of
(see DTE 66:9). It is reasonable to expect that plantations developed over the next 10-15
hand to protect the company's interests is in these problems will also exist in current and
itself a reminder of Papua's long record of years, would provide work and prosperity for
future plantations in Papua. some 250,000 families21. He is also quoted by
human rights atrocities committed by the One fundamental problem, long
armed forces, and the history of impunity.The ICG as describing the oil palm development
associated with oil palm schemes throughout programme as "waking the sleeping giant" of
military presence is also more entrenched. Indonesia is the use of oil palm projects as a
With the creation of more districts in Papua, Papua's economic potential22. However, he
front for gaining access to valuable timber. has also warned potential investors that they
more district military and police command Regional governments have often complained
posts have been established, ensuring a must be committed to the developments, and
about the 'cut and run' tactics of companies not just take the timber and disappear.
tighter military mesh. This puts further who commit to providing jobs and creating
pressure on local natural resources, since a The ICG report also notes a
income for the local economy by developing cautious approach towards Sinar Mas
large part of the military budget is made up large-scale plantations (not just oil palm, but
from external businesses. Personnel often investments in the three southern Papuan
pulpwood and other cash crops), but which districts: "Although district governments have
turn to resource-based projects to generate are only really interested in selling off the
income - either legally or illegally - but both signed memorandums of understanding with
hardwood from the natural forests in their a dozen prospective plantation investors, no
in ways that push aside the interests of local concessions. Now that oil palm prices have
people. formal permission has yet been granted. The
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
provincial government is in the process of It is quite possible, of course, that Notes:
developing strategies to minimise social Suebu believes that it is possible both to 1. See DTE's report on transmigration at
disruption before opening up more land, develop oil palm plantations as well as forest http://dte.gn.apc.org/ctrans.htm
including a stipulation that indigenous protection for carbon credits as ways of 2. For more on Tangguh see DTE 73:4 or
Papuans must be given priority for labour and earning income for Papua. http://dte.gn.apc.org/73tan.htm
work contracts." The group notes that Sinar But even the supposedly 'green' 3. For details and opinion on the decree, see
Mas itself may be judged incapable of approach of avoided deforestation does not Jakarta Post 30/Aug/07
managing 600,000 ha because it has planted bear too close an examination. According to 4. The higher figure comes from Governor
only 12,000 ha of 40,000 ha of land it was the Wall Street Journal, a 30-year-old Australian Barnabas Suebu, as quoted in Bisnis
granted as long ago as 199223. millionaire, Dorjee Sun, has been instrumental
5. Papua's split into two provinces was
Indonesian MPs have also raised in persuading Barnabas Suebu to take up
imposed by Jakarta against local opposition.
suspicions about the motive of large avoided deforestation so enthusiastically. The new 'Irian Jaya Barat' province was
companies making biofuel investments in After the governors' joint renamed 'Papua Barat' (West Papua - the
Papua. Ishartanto, for example, member of a statement on forest protection in April, Mr name commonly used by supporters of self-
national parliamentary commission on forests Sun bought a controlling stake in the Carbon determination or independence). It means
and plantations, said the programme was Pool Pty. Ltd., a small Australian company. In that Papua's provinces are now 'West Papua'
over-ambitious. Providing enough seedlings 2006, this company bought farmers' rights to and 'Papua'.
for just one million hectares would be over 12,000 hectares in Queensland and sold 6. See http://regionalinvestment.com/sipid/
problematic, let alone finding enough workers the resulting carbon credits to Anglo- id/commodityarea.php?ia=91&ic=2 for a
and managers. He estimated that developing Australian mining multinational, Rio Tinto in breakdown of land already used and
300,000 hectares alone could take 12 years - one of the world's first avoided-deforestation available for oil palm in ten of Papua's
and that would be in an area with good trades. According to WSJ, Sun wants to districts (accessed 23/Oct/07). For the
infrastructure, unlike Papua. He said such interest Rio Tinto in carbon schemes in Papua whole of Indonesia land available for oil palm
investors were interested in the timber, using and Aceh and the company itself is "keen to amounts to: 2,967,194 ha, while land already
land to raise capital and, while incapable of look at other opportunities". developed is: 3,955,070 ha. See:
developing the land themselves, wanted to It really would be some dreadful http://regionalinvestment.com/sipid/id/comm
odity.php?ic=2 (Accessed 30/Oct/07). These
prevent access by others24. irony if Rio Tinto - a major investor in the
figures conflict with information from the
highly destructive Freeport mine in Papua, set
Department of Agriculture that Indonesia
Forest protection for about offsetting its carbon emissions (or has 6 million hectares of oil palm plantation
continuing to pollute) by buying credits
carbon credits generated by Papua's forests.
and plans at provincial level that may add up
It is interesting that the Bisnis Indonesia report to as much as another 20 million ha.
Since the Freeport mining 7. Quoted in Bisnis Indonesia 25/Apr/07
in which Suebu promotes the benefits of oil operations have destroyed large areas of 8. See Promised Land: Palm Oil and Land
palm development came out just one day forest, some might say that this would be Acquisition in Indonesia - Implications for Local
before a very different message was put out paying something back to Papua and Papuans, Communities and Indigenous Peoples by
and widely reported by the international but at what price? If Papua's forests are to be Marcus Colchester, Norman Jiwan, Andiko,
press.This was his joint statement with fellow traded for carbon credits - who will decide Martua Sirait, Asep Yunan Firdaus, A.
governors of West Papua and Aceh pledging which forests should be set aside? Who will Surambo and Herbert Pane (2006) Forest
to "implement environmentally friendly benefit? How much will go to Jakarta? How Peoples Programme, Sawit Watch, HuMA
policies, sustainable development and the much will go to Papua? And how much, if and ICRAF, Bogor (also available in Bahasa
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions"25.The anything, will go to indigenous Papuans whose Indonesia). Can be downloaded from
international message on forest protection forests are to remain protected? www.sawitwatch.or.id or
was later firmed up by Suebu, when he According to Papuan commentator www.forestpeoples.org
claimed in an interview with the Wall Street 9. Figures quoted in Business Watch Indonesia,
Neles Tebay: "If the government is really
Journal to be resisting pressure from Jakarta Biofuel Industry in Indonesia: some critical
committed to accelerating development in
to develop oil palm plantations26. The article issues.
Papua, then President Yudhoyono should 10.See DTE 69:11 for more Papuan forest
says that Suebu wants to protect more than pursue a more dialogical method based on
half of the land targeted for development.The figures from various sources, including
three fundamental principles: peace, Forests Watch Indonesia.
protected forest would then be used to earn democracy and dignity, as proposed by the 11.See DTE 69:11 and Greenpeace SEAsia
carbon credits. Forest protection, or 'avoided president himself in December 2005."28 press release 21/Aug/07.
deforestation' - is expected to be accepted as This should apply to governor 12. Bisnis Indonesia 25/Apr/07
an official means of generating carbon credits Barnabas Suebu as well as the Indonesian 13. Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on the
at December's Bali climate change summit president, when planning large-scale oil palm Conflict, Crisis Group Asia Briefing No.66,
(see DTE 74:1 for more background on this developments and setting aside forests for 19/Jul/07
issue). carbon trading. If the principles of human 14.Straits Times 23/Aug/07
This stance appears to have assisted rights and free, prior and informed consent 15. According to head of Papua’s chamber of
the governor's nomination for an continue to be ignored, these schemes will commerce and industry, John M Kabey,
environmental award from Time Magazine, in more than likely fail to improve the lives of speaking in April 2007, Sinar Mas will open
October 2007. The governor told Time, Papuans. Instead, there is a risk that they will plantations in five districts - Boven Digul,
"Pressure on our forests is coming from the sustain the current cycle of conflict over Mappi, Merauke, Sarmi and Jayapura, covering
forestry department because they are still a total 1 million hectares and costing
resources, military aggression and human
operating with an old mindset…They need to between Rp21.6 and 24.6 trillion. This, he
rights abuses suffered by Papuans for so long.
realize that there is a new paradigm now and said, would produce more than130,000
we are not going to repeat the mistakes of barrels of biofuel per day. The target was for
the past"27. the five districts to become fuel self-
sufficient by the sixth year of investment,
(continued next page)
DOWN TO EARTH No. 75, November 2007
Palm oil industry launches PR campaign
Evidence from local and international NGOs about the impacts of large-scale oil palm plantations on the
environment and communities has made some buyers and parliamentarians in Europe realise that palm oil is not
the 'green', sustainable product the industry claims. Now Indonesia and Malaysia have launched a public relations
offensive in Britain and the Netherlands to try to secure markets for the millions of tonnes of palm oil
that they produce.
Indonesia and Malaysia signed a Memorandum
of Understanding on Bilateral Co-operation
in Commodities in May 20061. This included
co-operation on the production, processing
and marketing palm oil. While some feared
this would create a monopoly, the two
countries described it as a strategic alliance
with Malaysia offering capital investment and
technical skills and Indonesia providing land
and labour. Ensuring high demand for
Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil was an
important part of this strategy.
Malaysia has taken an aggressive
stance - particularly towards wildlife
campaigners who argue that the palm oil
industry kills orangutans by clearing forests -
claiming this is an attempt by the North to
undermine competition on the global market
for edible oils and fats. "When Malaysians get
angry, they fight. And I guarantee you we will
win," said Energy,Water and Communications Biofuelwatch protest, Newark, UK, 18 October 2007. See also caption, next page.
Minister Lim Keng Yaik last year2.The head of (Source: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/383921.html)
the Malaysian Palm Oil Council said about
leaving Indonesia, the minister told the "balancing message"7. He has not yet
500,000 tonnes of potential palm oil sales had
Indonesian press that he would be meeting responded to Down to Earth's enquiry,
been lost in 2006 because of buyers'
European NGOs to correct their accompanied by an English translation of the
concerns about environmental issues3.
'misunderstandings' about oil palm press release, about whether this was indeed
Unilever alone uses over 1Mt of palm oil
plantations, forest destruction and his position.
every year, most of which comes from
endangered species6. In fact, no NGOs were The delegation went on to hold
Indonesia and Malaysia4. So, Indonesia and
invited. The mission's main purpose was to similar meetings in the Netherlands, which is
Malaysia agreed to allocate 500,000 Euros to
address British palm oil buyers, processors, a major market for Indonesian palm oil. They
run a pro-palm oil counter campaign5.
agrofuel companies and other elements of the also went to Brussels, where they lobbied EU
business community. officials and MEPs to adopt a more positive
Lobbying in Europe Apriyantono also met with British attitude toward Indonesian palm oil.
Both countries have sent high-powered government representatives, including DEFRA European NGOs, including Friends of the
delegations of government and industry Secretary of State, Hilary Benn, to convince Earth, Biofuelwatch and many others, are
representatives to Europe to promote them that Indonesia is in the process of campaigning for the EU to scrap its target for
'sustainable palm oil'. Indonesian agriculture producing and promoting sustainable palm oil. agrofuels for transport8.
minister, Anton Apriyantono, made a three- Benn was reported in the Indonesian press as (continued next page)
day visit to London in early October. Before welcoming the pro-oil palm delegation's
(continued from previous page)
biofuels/sessions/s1_02_yusgiantoro.pdf juta hektar’,
and ready to export biofuel in the seventh accessed 27 Oct 2007 http://126.96.36.199/ver1/Nusantara/0704/20/1
year (Investor Daily 24/Apr/07 via Watch! 17. Figures quoted in Business Watch Indonesia, 24808.htm
Indonesia) Biofuel Industry in Indonesia: some critical issues. 25. Reuters 26/Apr/07
16. http://www.papua.go.id/berita_det.php/ 18. Crisis Group Asia Briefing No.66, p5. 26. Wall Street Journal 10/Aug/07
en/1241, accessed 22/Oct/07; additional 19.Media Release, IAPHR 24/Aug/07 28. Time Magazine 29/Oct/07
sources: Minister of Energy and Mineral 20. Crisis Group Asia Briefing No.66, p5. 29. Pastor Neles Tebay writing in Jakarta Post
Resources, Indonesia's Experience on 21. Bisnis Indonesia 25/Apr.07 30/Aug/07
Biofuels Development, Power point 22. Crisis Group Asia Briefing No66, p5.
presentation to International Biofuel 23. Crisis Group Asia Briefing No.66, p5. Thanks to Watch Indonesia! for contributions
Conference 5/Jul/07, 24. Investor Daily 24/Apr/07; Kompas Cybermedia to this article
http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/energy/ 20/Apr/07, ‘Papua akan buka lahan sawit tiga
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
European Heads of State agreed in Processing and Marketing (Prof Djoko Said
March this year to a target that 10 percent of Damarjati) who did not participate further.
transport fuels should be supplied by The meeting was chaired by Derom Bangun
agrofuels by 2020. This target is, however, who is chair of the Indonesian Palm Oil
conditional on agrofuels being produced Association (GAPKI).
sustainably and also on the successful These meetings were carefully
commercial development of so-called 'second stage-managed by the Indonesian palm oil
generation fuels', which are produced by industry to showcase examples of 'best
converting biomass to liquid9. The Biofuel practice'. European NGOs' attempts to
Directive will not be published until early negotiate a more open agenda were ignored
2008 and it will take over a year to complete and, in the end, only limited questioning of the
the legislative process. In the meantime, panel was permitted. Over lunch, Indonesian
however, an even higher de-facto biofuel Palm Oil Commission members harangued
target could be agreed as part of the new Fuel British and Dutch NGOs for "presenting lies
Quality Directive. This could be voted on as and only focusing on the bad news".
early as January, after the certification system This arrangement allowed the palm
for 'sustainable palm oil' proposed by the oil industry to present some highly selective
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) data and to make unsubstantiated claims.
has been approved by its membership at the These included the rejection of evidence that
5th Roundtable meeting in Kuala Lumpur Indonesia was the world's third largest
November 19-21. contributor to carbon emissions and
The Indonesian lobby tour in numerous examples of how the companies
Europe followed a similar Malaysian 'PR represented on the panel had played a key
Over 40 environmentalists protested outside a
offensive' in June. Plantation Industries and role in local development and increasing local
‘Biodiesel Expo’ on 17th October, at Newark,
Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah incomes. There were repeated denials that
UK, to raise awareness of the damage that
Kui said he would explain the reality to British the companies present were involved in any
massive and rapid biofuels development is
MPs in London and members of the European forest conversion or burning to clear forests.
having on the climate, people, food security and
Parliament in Brussels about "our efforts to Any examples cited by NGOs were dismissed
conserve the environment and biodiversity as past mistakes or the work of rogue
while we develop our palm oil industry….The elements.
The protest was held on the day after World
Cabinet wants to counter European anti-palm No government representative was
Food Day, when the UN Food and Agriculture
oil activists on their own home ground"10. on the panel, so there was no response to
Organisation (FAO) highlighted the impacts of
The Malaysian and Indonesian pro- points about the need for integration of
biofuels of food security around the world.The
oil palm campaign has failed to convince Indonesian policy on land use planning, oil
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right
decision-makers in the Netherlands. The palm plantations and agrofuels across
to Food, Jean Ziegler, has warned that rapid
Dutch government recently announced that it government departments or to answer
biofuel development is disastrous for those who
will exclude palm oil from 'green energy' questions about how Indonesia would be able
are starving. He will call for an international five-
subsidies as growing evidence suggests that to comply with RSPO standards unless land
year ban on producing biofuels to combat
palm oil is often less sustainable than reform was implemented and indigenous
soaring food prices.
advertised. Research by Dutch-based rights recognised.
consultancy Delft Hydraulics and Wetlands The glossy press pack contained
(Source: Biofuelwatch press release at
International that showed the climate impact more misinformation, including that oil palm
of the conversion of carbon-rich peatlands plantations were more effective at reducing
for oil palm plantations was highly influential greenhouse gas emissions than tropical
in this decision11 (see also separate article, rainforests. (see box, next page). While the company representatives
page 10). Apriyantono claimed in his and GAPKI promoted their commitment to
statement to the palm oil business corporate social responsibility as shown
Stage-managed community in London that "over 80% of palm through their community development
Indonesia sent a second delegation to Europe plantations in Indonesia are in compliance programmes, the only presentation from the
in late October to promote its 'sustainable with High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) panel which focused on the social problems
palm oil'. This time NGOs were invited to criteria”12. The panel members were also of Indonesia's rapidly expanding palm oil
meetings in London and the Hague to listen keen to promote their environmental sector came from Sawit Watch. The
to presentations made by a panel selected by credentials, with various examples of HCVF Indonesian NGO's director, Rudy Lumuru,
the department of agriculture and the protection of within oil palm concessions and talked about the need to find mechanisms to
Indonesian Palm Oil Board. co-operation with wildlife organisations like resolve conflicts between communities, oil
Senior representatives of PT WWF Indonesia. However, the Zoological palm companies, their contractors and local
London Sumatra,Asian Agri, PT SMART (Sinar Society of London (ZSL) used the London governments. Sawit Watch recorded over 500
Mas) and Jardine Matheson Holdings (Astra palm oil meeting to challenge Indonesian such conflicts in 2006.The group warned in a
Agro Lestari) described how their companies' government policy of allowing oil palm public statement earlier this year that
operations in Indonesia were making efforts plantations to be planted on former logging European agrofuel targets were driving up
towards 'sustainable palm oil', while Jan Kees concessions. A ZSL study shows that even international demand for palm oil, thus
Vis of Unilever, who is current president of logged-over forest can be vitally important to fuelling social and land conflicts14.
the RSPO, gave an update on the status of the endangered wildlife, including the Sumatran
RSPO. The agriculture minister did not come tiger. Yet large tracts of such forest land are Notes:
to London; his speech was read by the being cleared for plantations without any 1. http://www.kppk.gov.my/index.php?option
Director General of Agricultural Product assessment for its value to conservation or to =com_content&task=view&id=275&Itemid=
local communities13. 29)
(continued next page)
DOWN TO EARTH No. 75, November 2007
released by decomposing materials on the (continued from page 9)
Oil palm is better for planet forest floor.
1982 and 2001. It is not known how
than forests, says industry Primary tropical forests 'lock away'
much of this was directly related to plans
Indonesian government and palm oil industry huge amounts of carbon over long time
to establish oil palm plantations. Some
representatives are claiming - in public periods. On the other hand, most of this is
companies, for example PT Mandum Paya
meetings and publicity materials - that released when the forest is cut down and
Tamita (North Aceh), Simeulue District-
converting forests to oil palm plantations is a burned or timber is pulped into paper which
Owned Company (PDKS) and Ubertraco
good way to tackle climate change. A glossy ends up rotting in landfill sites. Oil palm
(Singkil), are alleged to have been
booklet produced by the Indonesian Palm plantations do not store as much carbon
involved in illegal logging and burning
Oil Commission, much quoted by panel because the trees are not so large and the
speakers at the London and The Hague ecosystem is much simpler. Moreover, oil
palms are cut down and replaced every Use of hazardous chemicals is
meetings, claims that "Compared to tropical
twenty or so years. If plantations are widespread on oil palm plantations,
forest, oil palm plantations possess several
established on peat soils, the carbon losses including Gramoxone and Roundup.
environmental advantages. It consumes more
are even greater (see page10). Flooding due to changes in land use to
carbon dioxide and releases more oxygen".
In addition, fertilisers used on large-scale oil palm plantations - Tamiang
This is bad science because it
plantations, plus the fuel burnt for processing December 2006.
confuses carbon flows with carbon storage.
When any tree grows, it takes in more and transport, cause more emissions of
greenhouse gases. The result is that palm oil The report concludes that "Aceh is at a
carbon than it loses by respiration, because
used as an agrofuel in Europe may cause critical crossroads - the wildlife, the people's
carbon is one of the building blocks of the
carbon emissions 2-8 times higher than the way of life, the forest cover and the unique
tissues in the roots, branches and leaves
fossil fuels they were intended to replace. biodiversity found there could be destroyed
which are all increasing in size and number.
Only where oil palm plantations are by the palm oil industry." (p28). Eye on Aceh
So rapidly growing trees - whether pulpwood
established on sparse grassland with low recommends that oil palm companies
or oil palms take in relatively large amounts
fertiliser and transport inputs do the figures operating in Aceh, including new ventures,
of carbon over short time scales. In contrast,
on carbon emissions even begin to add up15. should become RSPO members and abide by
in a mature forest, the amounts of carbon
the organisation's Principles and Criteria.
taken up by replacing fallen trees or leaves is
Furthermore, all companies should respect
more or less balanced by the carbon
customary rights and implement the practice
of free prior and informed consent during
land acquisition and plantation management.
1. The body of this article draws from The
Golden Crop? , September 2007, by Eye on
Aceh, available at www.aceh-eye.org
2. rakyataceh.com 22/Sept/07, quoted on Roel's
3. Media Indonesia 19/Sept/2007
4. Kompas interaktip 24/Nov/06
6. According to RePProT (1990)
Thanks to Eye on Aceh and Sawit Watch for
assistance with this article.
10. Nation, 20/May/07
13. Critical wildlife havens at risk, ZSL press
release, 31/Oct/07, www.zsl.org
Source: Mongabay 8/Nov/07 14. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/
(continued from previous page) 5. Jakarta Post 19/Jul/06 15. For more detailed discussion see
2. AFP 16/May/2007 6. Pontianak Post 29/Sept/07 http://news.mongabay.com/2007/1108-
3. AP 25/May/2007 7. RRI Online 3/Oct/07 palm_oil.html
4. Cooking the Climate, Greenpeace, Nov 2007, 8. http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2007
p40 Jan31-openletterbiofuels.pdf Thanks to Biofuelwatch for contributions
DOWN TO EARTH No. 75, November 2007
oil palm / Aceh
Aceh’s golden crop?
Aceh's new government is promoting the expansion of oil palm plantations in the province as 'in the interests of the
people', but it is by no means clear that local communities will be the main beneficiaries.
A report by the independent research forests under Avoided Deforestation access to 4 hectares each. The scheme will
organisation Eye on Aceh examines the initiatives (see DTE 74:3 and DTE 74:7). cost US$540 million and there are plans to
growth of oil palm plantations in Aceh and the However, he and his colleagues are also keen fund this through an Islamic Development
social, environmental and economic costs of to promote oil palm as part of official policy Bank loan.
this agribusiness. The Golden Crop? Palm Oil in to alleviate rural poverty in Aceh. The Malaysia badly wants to expand its
Post-Tsunami Aceh1 points out that "as the booming global market in palm oil presents palm oil industry, but the shortage of land -
province enjoys its new-found peace, and with local governments with a lucrative especially in peninsular Malaysia - is a serious
it a flush of reconstruction and post-conflict opportunity to increase revenues. limiting factor.Access to considerable areas of
related funding from donors and central Palm oil was high on the agenda relatively cheap 'undeveloped land', plus the
government, growth of the plantation sector when Irwandi headed an Acehnese delegation lower wage costs and lax controls on
has become one of the government's priority to Malaysia earlier this year to discuss the compliance with legislation on land and the
drivers of economic development." However, potential for increased trade links. The environment in Indonesia make neighbouring
it concludes that the local government and delegation met with the Federal Land Aceh a particularly attractive prospect to
companies should learn from mistakes made Development Authority (FELDA), which has FELDA and other state and private sector
in other parts of Indonesia and only develop set up smallholder oil palm schemes covering palm oil producers in Malaysia. Malaysian
plantations which "employ sustainable, hundreds of thousands of hectares for settlers companies including PT Ubertraco and the
equitable and environmentally sound in peninsular Malaysia since the 1960s. One Guthrie group have been operating in Aceh
practices". outcome of the meeting is FELDA’s assistance for some time. Eye on Aceh also reports
in creating the Aceh Plantation Development "several tentative discussions" between
Plantations during decades Authority (APDA).The Malaysians will provide various districts and the provincial
technical advice on plantations and on running government in Aceh and the governments of
of conflict the new authority. FELDA advised on drafting Johor and Selangor states, in addition to the
The palm oil sector has developed more the concept and the local legislation (qanun) FELDA negotiations described above.
slowly in Aceh than in the rest of Indonesia, currently going through the Aceh parliament. Eye on Aceh points out that,
even though the high rainfall and fertile soils The Islamic Economy Development although the Malaysian palm oil industry is
offer ideal growing conditions. According to Foundation of Malaysia (YPEIM), a Malaysian very successful at self-promotion, there have
official data, there were 214,847 hectares of federal government foundation, will help to been some high environmental and social
oil palm plantations in 1999 but this had only oversee the APDA. costs and warns the Acehnese authorities
expanded to 257,970 ha by 2006 in the Details of exactly how the APDA against being seduced by the Malaysian model
province. Production is focused in the north will work are still unclear.The initial plans are of development. Farmers who sold their land
and west in the coastal parts of North Aceh, to open up 185,000 ha of smallholder oil palm for a quick profit without understanding the
East Aceh, Aceh Tamiang, Nagan Raya and plantations in 17 districts. Over 11,000 long-term implications have been left landless
Singkil districts. Nearly half the oil palm orphans and 35,000 poor families will be given and poor. Flooding and landslides have
plantations are smallholder schemes (86,065 increased due to deforestation. "Large
ha). companies, often linked to Malaysian elites,
The Golden Crop describes how have been the prime beneficiaries while claims
thirty years of bloody conflict discouraged by the government that palm oil has helped
investors and many companies and alleviate poverty are only partially true." (The
smallholders abandoned their plantations. Golden Crop, p26)
However, oil palm plantations helped to
finance both the Indonesian military and the
separatist Free Aceh Movement. Control over
these resources was also a source of conflict, Central government is also keen to promote
for example, in East Aceh in November 2004 the palm oil sector in Aceh. The agriculture
when the Indonesian army and paramilitary ministry stated in a 2005 document that
police (Brimob) engaged in a deadly feud. 454,468 ha of land is available for new oil palm
Downsizing the military is part of the peace developments in Aceh. On the other hand,
process in Aceh, although the military is still head of Aceh's plantations office Fakhruddin,
involved in legal and illegal businesses there - told Eye on Aceh that "It would be unwise to
including palm oil. use 400,000 ha of land in Aceh only for palm
oil. There are many other commodities that
must also be accommodated in our plans, such
Aceh's new incentives as cocoa, rubber and others. Moreover, there
Aceh's governor Irwandi Yusuf, democratically is land in Aceh that is just not suitable for palm
elected in late 2006, has imposed a oil." (p12).
moratorium on commercial logging and is Eye on Aceh’s report is at www.aceh-eye.org The division of responsibility for
keen to support efforts to protect remaining plantation planning is far from clear since the
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
national, provincial and district level Aceh’s Resources
Soros interest government.
International financier George Soros is The Directorate General of
Aceh has a total land area of 5.6 million
reported to be interested in investing in Plantations launched a five-year national
ha. In the late 1980s, there were 3.9
Aceh's oil palm and banking sectors. 'Plantation Revitalisation' programme in late
million ha of forest in the province, of
According to deputy governor Muhammad 2006, with Aceh included among the target
which 260,000 ha were peat swamp
Nasir, Aceh could make 200,000 ha provinces. Intended to boost production of
forest6. By 2000 (the last official statistics
available to Soros. Soros is said to be cocoa and rubber, in addition to palm oil, this
available), the total forest area in Aceh had
interested in an initial 20,000 ha nucleus- will be implemented in 12 of Aceh's 23
been reduced to 3.3 million ha7.
smallholder development, although there is districts. The provincial plantations office
no indication of when the start up will be. intends to facilitate the development of
He is sending a team to investigate 40,000 ha of new oil palm plantations and the back in full production or well on the way
potential areas2. rehabilitation of another 4,775 ha. Cheap towards this.
credit is available to plantation companies
Forests, peatlands in danger involved in the programme. Private sector
Aceh's deputy governor is reported as This programme is intended to help These plans are all in line with the interests of
saying that "Almost all parts of Aceh are smallholders, but relies heavily on the nucleus Indonesia's private sector. GAPKI (Indonesia's
suitable for oil palm"3.This ignores the fact estate model. It also aims to attract skilled Palm Oil Producers' Association) envisages a
that extensive areas of Aceh are still transmigrants who fled plantations during the booming future for palm oil in the province.
covered with forest, including central conflict to return to Aceh. Companies will The agri-business giant, PT Agro Indo Lestari,
highlands, and that mountainous areas are acquire land and allocate small plots to local Indonesia's largest palm oil producer, is
not suitable for oil palm. Also, many parts communities, transmigrants and settlers from reported to be looking for 200,000 ha of land
have poor roads which present real within Aceh to run as co-operatives with for oil palm plantations and processing plants
problems for transporting palm fruits for loans from Indonesian banks. 'The Golden in Aceh. PT Boswa Megalopolis has returned
processing. Crop' report draws attention to the danger to 6,000 ha of plantations in Aceh Jaya. It has
Even protected forests are not that appropriation of large tracts of land can requested the local authorities for over 2,000
safe from oil palm companies. Police took destroy independent and sustainable transmigrant families to develop its estates.
action against Medan-owned PT Putri Hijau livelihoods. "Limited choice of employment PT Aceh Sawit Sejahtera has also requested
and PT Rapala in late 2006 for planting oil often leaves the workforce vulnerable to low- 2,000 transmigrant families for its 7,000 ha
palm within the Gunung Leuser National paid jobs and poor health and safety estate in Peunaron in East Aceh.
Park. Around 300 ha of forest in the sub- standards….Even those smallholders who (Transmigration, the state programme to
district of Besitang had been illegally own their land are left vulnerable, as most move families from overcrowded islands to
cleared4. processing plants belong to large plantation develop less populated areas, caused
Aceh's peat swamps are also at companies" (p12). enormous social and environmental problems
risk from oil palm development.The three in the past - see DTE’s July 2001 report for
main areas - Tripa (on the borders of Post-tsunami funding background). More companies are looking for
Nagan Raya and Aceh Barat Daya), Kluet The peace agreement and the massive influx government assistance to come to Aceh
(Aceh Selatan-Singkil) and Singkil swamps of international funding over the past two through the Revitalisation programme.
cover an area of 170,000 hectares on the years has revived the Palm Plantation Agri-
coast at the margins of the Leuser Business Development Area policy for Aceh.
Ecosystem.To date, 11 companies have This programme, intended to promote the
Problems and solutions
officially been granted concessions expansion of smallholder schemes, was in Eye on Aceh's fieldwork and interviews
covering 70,000 ha of peat swamp but place pre-tsunami but came to nothing due to revealed a number of problems associated
large tracts have been abandoned during lack of funds and the problems of operating with the palm oil sector in Aceh. These
the decades of conflict. during a civil war. include:
Now the Swiss-based NGO Pan The Rehabilitation and Land development without the
Eco, which has worked for 30 years on Reconstruction Agency (BRR) had planned to community's consent - PT Bahari Lestari
forest protection in northern Sumatra, is develop 3,500 smallholder plantations in in Bandar Baru (Tamiang), PT Ubertraco
trying to protect some of the last of Nagan Raya,West Aceh, Aceh Jaya and Bireun (Singkil). Communities were afraid to
Aceh's peat swamp forests by relocating in 2006, with funding from the ADB's protest before the peace agreement
the oil palm concessions to areas Earthquake and Tsunami Support programme demanding compensation.
designated 'fallow land'. It is working with and central government. Problems with land Low prices for independent growers.
the local authorities and has sought RSPO procurement and weak local authorities were There are only 21 processing plants in
sponsorship for a pilot project5. blamed for this project's lack of success. Aceh, all attached to large estates.
Nevertheless, in 2007, the BRR is supposed to Smallholders' fruits are not collected and
be implementing a plantation development they are forced to accept whatever
project worth Rp44.8 bn (US$4.9 million) in payment the mill offers.
devolution of power from Jakarta to Aceh.
The Law on Governing Aceh (LOGA) was other districts, including another 4,000 ha of Low wages. 8,000 workers at PT
passed in July 2006, but the all-important new oil palm plantations in tsunami-affected Parasawita's estate in Tamiang protested
government regulations required for its areas of Aceh. Meanwhile, the ADB is going about non-compliance with Aceh's
implementation are still drafts subject to ahead with a Rp12 bn (US$1.3 million) minimum wage. Nearly 300 workers at
discussion at central government level. The programme to reopen and establish new PT Delima Makmur (Singkil) filed an
February 2007 draft is reported to state that plantations in Nagan Raya, West Aceh and official complaint with the Department of
Jakarta will be responsible for establishing Aceh Raya this year. Labour for underpaying staff.
policy and guidelines, while management of Half the tsunami-affected Land clearance. A total of 265,995 ha of
plantation land will be under the control of plantations are reported now to be either forest were cleared in Aceh between
(continued 3rd column, page 7)
DOWN TO EARTH No. 75, November 2007
climate change / oil palm
Peatlands and climate change
Indonesia's peatlands have been in the international spotlight in the run-up to the Bali climate change summit.
An international symposium and workshop on tropical peatland has highlighted the threat to peatland from
large-scale land use change, while a new Greenpeace report warns of devastating climate change impacts
if peatlands continue to be converted to oil palm plantations.
Peatlands act as a natural carbon store, and
large amounts of CO2 - a major contributor
to global warming - are released when
peatland is converted for other uses.
"Inappropriate or poorly managed
development of tropical peatlands and fires
on them impact on local and regional
biodiversity, the natural resource functions of
the remaining peat swamp forest, and the
livelihoods and health of local people", said Dr
Sue Page of the EU-funded CARBOPEAT
Project, which organised the symposium, held
in Yogyakarta in August 20071.
Indonesia has more than 20 million
hectares of peatland2 - most of the 27.1
million hectares in the Southeast Asian
region3. Tropical peatland in the ASEAN
region is estimated to represent about 60% of
the total tropical peatland carbon store4.
According to a report by Wetlands
International, each year around 660 million
tonnes of carbon is released from peatlands Oil palm planted on peatland, South Sumatra (DTE)
that are drying out and oxidising5. Peatland
protected under Indonesian law. Instead, been developed in peatlands, with the largest
drainage and degradation are also linked to
extensive drainage and forest clearance is areas in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
fires that cause the release of an additional
going ahead. This conversion is likely to continue
1400 Mt/y of CO2. Over 90% of these
Throughout the Yogyakarta given the Indonesian government's plans to
emissions originate from Indonesia. As a peatland symposium, academics studying expand oil palm plantations.The expansion is
result, Indonesia has been placed as the peatlands emphasised the relationship primarily aimed at global markets for palm oil
world's third biggest emitter of carbon6(see between water and peat, and the need to for food, cosmetic and other products as well
also DTE 74:1), although some oil palm control the water table to prevent as, more recently, for biodiesel. The
companies and members of the government subsidence, if peat is to continue its carbon government has allocated 6.1 million hectares
dispute the figures. storage function. for oil palm plantation development for the
Greenpeace puts the greenhouse A statement adopted by the biodiesel market alone8 (see also DTE 74:13
gas emissions from Indonesia's peatlands meeting concluded that there is a need for for more on palm oil and biofuels).
much higher at 1.8 billion tonnes per year, or Indonesia and other ASEAN governments to Sawit Watch has compiled data
4% of the total global emissions. The group promote responsible peatland management showing that regional governments have
says that 10 million of Indonesia's 22.5 million and prevent greenhouse gas emissions as proposed around 19.84 million hectares for
hectares of peatland have already been result of land use change and fire. It said oil palm expansion9 - including ambitious
cleared of forest and drained, resulting in investment was needed in conservation, plans for Papua (see page 1). It is not clear
substantial increases in greenhouse gas rehabilitation and restoration of tropical whether these plans include allocations for
emissions7. peatland and the "improvement of existing plantations to supply the biofuel industry.
Focusing on one peatland area - peatland management practices by promoting The current extent of oil palm
Riau - Greenpeace warns that 4 million wise use, including participatory plantations in Indonesia is more than 6 million
hectares of peatland in the province management…in partnerships with local hectares. Adding another 20 million hectares
store14.6 billion tonnes of carbon and that if communities." will take a heavy toll on the country's
these peatlands were destroyed, the resulting peatlands, and release huge amounts of CO2
emissions would be equivalent to one year's
total global emissions. It found that oil palm
Peat and oil palm into the atmosphere.As a host to the climate
Each year peatland is destroyed for timber summit this year, Indonesia is in the spotlight.
concessions held by Duta Palma, one of
plantations (HTI) and large-scale oil palm The government must not only deal with
Indonesia's ten largest oil palm refiners,
plantations, among other uses. According to being labelled the world's 3rd biggest carbon
overlapped with areas of deep peat ranging
the Indonesian NGO Sawit Watch, more than emitter, but also with the threat of forest fires
from 3.5m to more than 8 metres and that
1 million hectares of oil palm plantations have and drought during the dry season, and large-
the entire concession area should be
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
scale floods during the rainy season. The Greenpeace report states that Perubahan Iklim’, Republika, 12 Aug/06.
WALHI, Indonesia's biggest members of the Roundtable on Sustainable http://www.republika.co.id/koran_detail.asp?i
environmental organisation, has urged its Palm Oil (RSPO) (see DTE 72), an d=260495&kat_id=16&kat_id1=&kat_id2=
government to issue a regulation prohibiting organisation which is meant to promote 3. Biofuelwatch Factsheet 1,
the conversion of peatland to oil palm sustainable palm oil, "are dependent on www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/peatfiresbackgroun
plantations10. suppliers that are actively engaged in d.pdf
Unless there is a dramatic policy deforestation and the conversion of 4. For Peat's Sake, as above.
reversal on plantation expansion and a peatlands". Unilever, a member of RSPO, uses
6. Wetlands International. Fact Sheet. Tropical
commitment to protect fragile ecosystems around 1.2 million tonnes of palm oil every
peatswamp destruction fuels climate change.
and vulnerable communities, peatland year, or about 3% of world production. http://www.wetlands.org/publication.aspx?ID
destruction and the fires, drought and Indonesian RSPO members include Sinar Mas, =d67b5c30-2b07-435c-9366-c20aa597839b
flooding associated with it, plus the impacts of which is planning massive oil palm plantations 7. Greenpeace, How the palm oil industry is
global warming, will continue to have a in Papua (see also page 1). cooking the climate, November 2007,
disproportionate impact on Indonesia's poor. Notes: downloadable in English from
Their living space and livelihoods are 1. For Peat's Sake, press release, University of http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports
constantly being squeezed by these Leicester, Sept 2007 /cooking-the-climate. See also
processes, which are geared toward serving http://www.geog.le.ac.uk/carbopeat/pressrel. http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/in
the interests of plantation companies and the html, accessed 5/Nov/07.The symposium donesian-forest-destruction for information
international palm oil business. was a forum to exchange knowledge, on Greenpeace's direct action in a peatland
Among those brands which are experience and information on peatland- area to stop drainage and deforestation.
'complicit' in oil palm expansion at the related activities by academics, experts, 8. Bisnis Indonesia, 23 Apr 2007. ‘Sugiharto:
expense of Indonesia's peatlands are, NGOs and companies. Around 230 people Lahan cadangan kelapa sawit 6,1 juta ha’.
according to Greenpeace, KitKat, Pringles, attended, from 60 countries, including 9. Colchester, M. et.al 2006, Promised Land.
Philadelphia cream cheese, Cadbury's Flake Indonesia, the UK, Netherlands, Japan and Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit
Malaysia. DTE was among the NGOs Watch.
and leading companies including Gillette,
Burger King and McCain. attending and gave a presentation on 10. Antara News 29/Oct/07
peatlands and oil palm.
2. Salman Darajat, ‘Konversi Lahan Gambut dan
(continued from page 12) Pinata), by reprocessing a palm-derived
alcoholic drink called cap tikus, a home- Indigenous peoples are tenacious in the face
Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and East and West Nusa produced local speciality. of threats to their lives and identity, as
Tenggara registered as participants for this It is clear how outside pressures are expressed by Selester from the Mentawai
first gathering. affecting indigenous peoples socially and indigenous community: "we, Mentawai people
economically. Laik, a farmer and rattan artisan are a communal people used to living
Indigenous experiences from Kutai in East Kalimantan, explained how together, but the government programme
"rattan and Kutai people are inseparable: it forced us to live in separate houses, so we
Sharing experiences was a major part of the
grows around our houses and in our gardens”. couldn't live in the way we'd wished." Despite
festival, based on the idea that 'experience is
But rattan prices have plummeted to Rp500- this, he stressed, "Times may change, symbols
the best teacher'. Among the experiences
1000 per kilo because of a government policy may change, but we must still safeguard our
shared were: how to sustain a livelihood when
change which considers rattan as a wild plant values."
the state imports cheap rice, how to create
as opposed to a cultivated one, and is
electricity from alternative means when there
therefore subject to taxes, which make it
is no electricity in the village, or electricity and
difficult to sell. This has taken a heavy
fuel bills are spiralling upward, and how to
economic toll on the indigenous community,
profit from non-timber forest products, when
since rattan is their main product. "Our rattan
a lot of noise is being made about illegal
has stayed in the village because of regulations
that don't allow us to sell unprocessed rattan,
"We can all live, as long as we know
on top of forestry minister regulations issued
what we have and how we can benefit from
in 2006 (no 55 and no 63) which have made
it", said Herman from Kiarasari. "We have
rattan much more difficult to distribute", said
water and by using it wisely, we have enough
Ujar Patmawaty, head of the Kutai Rattan
electricity, we can irrigate the rice fields and
Farmers and Artisans Association.
our fishponds don't dry up", he said (Herman's
Traditions in Flores have been
community benefits from a 40 Kwh micro-
undermined by an influx of cheap products.
Here, the famous woven cloth (kain tenun) is
It is clear that indigenous
under threat from the chemical dyes and
sustainable practices which protect forest
commercially-made sarongs brought in from
functions can make a contribution to tackling
outside. "This cloth is our identity; we can
climate change. Despite increasing economic
identify eachother just by looking at the cloth"
pressures and government policies that
said Melania, who was wearing a Flores kain
disadvantage indigenous peoples, they remain
tenun that showed she was an unmarried
committed to safeguarding their forests.
woman. "It makes me very sad that our people
As reported by Yorri, a participant
can't get the materials to weave cloth because
from Tondano in North Sulawesi, several
we've been forced out of our forest homes,
community members had managed to create
even though it is part of our identity", she said
fuel (ethanol) from sugar palm (Arenga
DOWN TO EARTH No.75, November 2007
Indonesia's First Indigenous Forestry Festival
A gathering of indigenous peoples from across Indonesia was organised by the Bogor-based NGO KpSHK in August
this year, with the aim of promoting sustainable forest management.This report, compiled from a variety of
materials from the Festival, gives some insights into the positive developments and continuing concerns at grassroots
level in indigenous forest areas.
The rationale for the first Indonesian The Indonesia Indigenous Forest
Indigenous Forestry Festival was the UN General Assembly Festival, which took place from August 4-9 in
continuing conflict over Indonesia's forest Bogor, was organised into four main events:
adopts Indigenous Peoples
areas, claimed on the one hand by the state
and, on the hand, by indigenous peoples. Most Declaration A workshop on traditional knowledge in
of Indonesia's indigenous peoples live in After twenty years of negotiations forest management: a series of
forest areas and 70% of forests remain under between indigenous peoples and states, presentations on indigenous traditional
the control of the Forestry Department, so the UN General Assembly adopted the knowledge on food security, energy, water,
there has been plenty of scope for conflicting United Nations Declaration on the Rights medicine and ritual, managing resources
claims. of Indigenous Peoples on September 13th and a discussion on the role of women in
Indonesian law has offered very 2007. With 143 countries voting in favour, natural resources management. The
little protection for indigenous rights over including Indonesia and the UK, there workshop was held in Cirewed, Kiarasari
forests - or even recognition of indigenous were only 4 negative votes cast (Canada, village, in Bogor district.
peoples' existence - while regional autonomy Australia, New Zealand, United States),
laws introduced in 1999 have driven further plus 11 abstentions. Indigenous peoples Establishing an Indonesian Indigenous
unsustainable exploitation. KpSHK - the representatives welcomed the historic Forestry Forum: preparing a strategy and
Consortium for Supporting Community- move. creating a forum for communication for
based Forest Management Systems - believes Les Malezer, Chair of the Global indigenous communities across Indonesia.
that legal recognition of indigenous peoples Indigenous Peoples' Caucus said: the
by regional governments is crucial if their declaration combined the interests and Panel discussion, between experts on
rights to manage their customary areas are to views of the United Nations and indigenous law, forestry,
be fulfilled. Indigenous Peoples, and was “a tool for ethnology/anthropology, NGOs and
peace and justice, based upon mutual indigenous peoples organisations on
Community spirit recognition and mutual respect." policy and legal and reforms, to enable
The problems faced by indigenous peoples in (Source: Iwgia website: www.iwgia.org) indigenous communities to find out
the forests have sometimes had the effect of directly about developments in Indonesian
reducing awareness of their own capacity to 1) initiate an Indonesian Indigenous Forestry forest policy.
manage their areas. Revitalising or returning Forum - a forum for communication
to a 'community spirit' is a fitting way to fight between indigenous communities in Dialogue between indigenous peoples
for recognition of indigenous peoples and defending their customary areas and with the Indonesian Forestry Minister: an
their forest management rights, especially for forest resources; exchange of views with the hope of
those communities who still depend wholly gaining political support from the minister
on forest resources. 2) find common strategies for securing for indigenous peoples and indigenous
To foster this community spirit, indigenous forests; forest management rights. (Unfortunately
KpSHK, supported by many others, organised this session had to be cancelled because
a gathering on the theme of indigenous 3) share knowledge about exploiting forest the minister could not attend).
peoples and their management of forest products - an exchange of experiences
areas. The general aim was for communities between communities in the development The festival attracted quite a lot of
to find ways of working together to improve of forest products. interest from indigenous communities:
forestry conditions in Indonesia. More twenty one communities from Java, Sumatra,
specifically, the aims of the Festival were to: 4) promoting indigenous peoples' models of
traditional knowledge in sustainable forest (continued on page 11)
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