Another inconvenient truth:
Ministerial regulation is palming the Indonesia peatlands?
Indonesia is an archipelagic country with more than 17,000 islands. Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, and Papua are the biological homes to the world’s remaining tropical rainforests and ecosystems. The elephants, rhinos, Sumatran tigers, Orang Utan, etc. among others increasingly endangered, rare, and threatened tropical rainforests species due to rapid and uncontrolled oil palm expansion.
Sawit Watch is concerned with, if the government continues to implement, the currently issued Ministry of Agriculture regulation 14/Permentan/PL.110/2/2009 on the guidelines on the use of peatlands for oil palm cultivation which, lacking of effective actions and cautious measures, allows the appropriation of thousands of hectares of tropical peatforest and peatlands from local communities and indigenous peoples all over the country.
The Article 4 of the regulation stipulates:
Oil palm plantation company which utilises peat land before this regulation is issued either has had received plantation business permit (IUP) or plantation business letter registration (SPUP) is still valid until the expiry of either land use rights (HGU) or other rights.
In contradiction with:
To our best knowledge, the considerations of the regulation are legally inappropriate and substantially in contradiction with other laws and regulations:
- Law No.26/2007 on National Spatial Planning which requires the government to take effective reviews, evaluations and implementations on the grounds;
- Law No.39/1999 on Human Rights which requires the state to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of its peoples;
- Law No.29/1999 regarding the ratification of the international convention on the elimination all forms of racial discrimination (CERD);
- Presidential instruction (Inpres) No.2/2007 on revitalisation and rehabilitation of ex-mega rice peatland in Central Kalimantan;
The inconvenient facts:
Will we have to let either another 13.5 million hectares or approximately 20 million ha our remaining pristine peatlands for palming? Can be neither! Indeed, some alternative facts are obviously alarming. Why?
Firstly, only parts of Borneo and Sumatra, Sawit Watch records an increasing number of oil palm permits overlapping with peatlands. In provinces with oil palm prominent ambitious expansion target, for example, West Kalimantan 706,379.1 ha, Central Kalimantan 239,388.93 ha, and Riau 792,618.08 ha. Furthermore, Sawit Watch identifies more than 348 oil palm plantation companies with the average 3.149,3 Ha per company.
Secondly, Indonesia has planted 7.5 million hectares of land with oil palm and produces around 19 million tonnes of CPO. However, this great economic development costs significant 576 land conflicts in 16 provinces out of 23 provinces are developing oil palm plantations in the country (Sawit Watch, January 2009).
Thirdly, the emissions resulting from land-use change in the palm oil-sector may have reached between 3.1 and 4.6 billion tonnes of CO2 – 46 to 68 times the annual saving the EU hopes to be achieving by then from biofuels. Moreover, most disastrous is the production of palm oil-based biodiesel from the conversion of Indonesian peatland tropical forest, requiring 420 years of biofuel production to pay back the carbon debt (Oxfam, 2008).
Therefore, either sooner or later, the regulation comes into effect, it:
- Dispossesses both rights and needs – justifying further expropriation – rights of the local communities and indigenous peoples from traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used land, and other natural resources within their social and bio-cultural interaction territories.
- Disrespects principles of withholding or giving free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples in particular their economic, social, and cultural lives relating to preservation peatlands;
- Facilitates either positive or effective means of increasing deforestation and degradation for lacking of consultative actions, socially correct and environmentally safe precautionary measures in place;
- Justifies legal and systematic significant uncontrolled emissions from land clearing, drainages, and canalisation due to rapid and unchecked oil palm expansions;
- Undermines the spirit of the 2006 national agrarian reform agenda and food sovereignty declared by the president of the republic of Indonesia.
Hereby, Sawit Watch calls on the government to:
- Immediately reconsider the ministerial regulation 14/Permentan/PL.110/2/2009;
- Without delay set effective mechanisms and cautious measures in place that guarantee rights and needs – wellbeing of local communities and indigenous peoples to be affected by the regulation;
- Take corrective actions and remedies through nation wide applicable mechanisms to redress past violations of peoples’ rights;
- Take urgent and effective measures to resolve the ongoing conflicts in land and natural resources in oil palm plantations;
- Wherever possible prevent escalating social conflicts and environmental degradations by adopting permanent conflict resolution mechanisms.
Therewith, sovereignty and dignity of the state must have in practices protecting and fulfilling the constitutional rights of the peoples and the integrity of state. Indeed, Indonesia is an independent state with dignity and sovereignty free from any interventions of either state-owned or private palm oil business, or land-banking conglomerates.
Taking the calls into account, the government of Indonesia is committed to protecting civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights of its peoples.
For more information:
Head Department Social and Environmental Risk Mitigation Initiatives
Norman Jiwan (Phone number 081315613536)
Head of Department
Social and Environmental Risks Mitigation Initiatives
Sawit Watch, Association
Jl. Sempur Kaler No. 28