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					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: tel/fax: +44 16977 46266 website:

    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

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
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.                     
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
                                                                                                             Indonesia 25/Apr/07.
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
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   
                                                                                                             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?               or
was later firmed up by Suebu, when he                           According to Papuan commentator    
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

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:
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                            
   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.          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      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.
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
                                                                                                        forest land.
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
                                                                                                     2. 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
                                                                                                         accessed 31/Oct/07
                                                                                                     13. Critical wildlife havens at risk, ZSL press
                                                                                                         release, 31/Oct/07,
 Source: Mongabay 8/Nov/07                                                                           14.
(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               
3. AP 25/May/2007                                 7.   RRI Online 3/Oct/07                               palm_oil.html
4. Cooking the Climate, Greenpeace, Nov 2007,     8.
   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
                                                                                                       Jakarta's plans
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                   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     
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      
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.       
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
constantly being squeezed by these                         Leicester, Sept 2007                               /cooking-the-climate. See also
processes, which are geared toward serving       
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. 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.
hydro system).
                                                       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:                                    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)

  DOWN TO EARTH is the newsletter of the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia. If you want to
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