WWF calls for legal action in Indonesia forest clearing



Posted on 25 April 2012  | 
Burning rainforest to clear land for oil palm plantations near the Bukit Tigapuluh Nature Reserve, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© Mark Edwards / WWF-CanonEnlarge
Banda Aceh – WWF is calling on Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and police to investigate and take strict legal action against the perpetrator of the recent clearing of land known to house around 200 critically endangered orangutan in Aceh’s Tripa peat swamp.

Initial findings from the task force investigting the violations indicate several laws have been broken by the land owner, including the use of fires to clear land, clearing peat land deeper than 3 meters, and conducting land-clearing activities prior to the issuance of a permit.1

“The area is home to about 200 critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. WWF is calling for a follow-up investigation and legal action to prevent further clearing and stop incidents like this from reoccurring in the future,” said Dede Suhendra, WWF-Indonesia’s Program Leader in Aceh. “WWF-Indonesia is prepared to help the Government further investigate the case,” Dede added.

“WWF urges all oil palm companies operating in the Tripa area to implement best management practices on sustainable oil palm plantations to protect this very important peat swamp,” Dede continued. “WWF Indonesia also calls on central and regional governments to halt new permits for oil palm plantations and conduct strict assessments to identify high conservation value forest and the presence of endangered species.” 

The Tripa peat swamp forest area is located in southwest Aceh Province. It is a primary habitat for Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae). Massive land clearing for oil palm plantations since the 1990s has significantly decreased the orangutan population in the area.

Data on the Leuser Ecosystem collected by the Save Tripa Swamp Coallition, shows that the area consists of close to 62,000 hectares of peat swamp forest owned by five palm oil companies. Around 35,000 hectares of this have been cleared following the rapid expansion of palm plantations since the signing of Aceh’s peace aggreement in 2005.

A recent investigation by the International non-profit organization PanEco, which  specializes in nature conservation in Indonesia and Switzerland, reveals that over 1,000 hectares of land - the rough equivalent of 2000 soccer fields - was cleared for palm oil plantations between March 21 - 25th 2012, with a disastrous impact on the estimated 200 Sumatran orangutan living in the area.
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1 Violations include: Law No. 18 Year 2004 on Plantation; Law No. 32 Year 2009 on Environmental Protection and Management; and Law No. 26 Year 2007 on Spatial Planning juncto Presidential Decree No. 32 Year 1990 on Protected Areas.

For more information contact:

Dede Suhendra, Project Leader WWF-Aceh, dsuhendra@wwf.or.id, +62 816343801

Burning rainforest to clear land for oil palm plantations near the Bukit Tigapuluh Nature Reserve, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© Mark Edwards / WWF-Canon Enlarge
Map detailing the Tripa peat swamp forest area in southwest Aceh Province. It is a primary habitat for Sumatran orangutan and Sumatran tigers. Massive land clearing for oil palm plantations since the 1990s has significantly decreased the orangutan population in the area.
© WWF Indonesia Enlarge
Sumatran orang utan (Pongo abelii) female 'Suma' reunited with male baby 'Forester' (part of baby snatching story)  Gunung Leuser NP, Sumatra, Indonesia
Sumatran orang utan (Pongo abelii) female 'Suma' reunited with male baby 'Forester' (part of baby snatching story) Gunung Leuser NP, Sumatra, Indonesia
© naturepl.com/Anup Shah / WWF Enlarge

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