Tuesday, January 21, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Aceh's remaining lowland rainforests under threat as Aceh Parliament Passes Controversial Spatial Plan

One of the "World's Most Irreplaceable Protected Areas" Under Threat
as Aceh Parliament Passes Controversial Spatial Plan

20 January 2014

[Jakarta / Indonesia] On 27th December 2013 the Aceh Parliament dismayed
local community members, NGOs and scientists around the world by passing a
highly controversial new land use plan. If approved by Indonesia's
Central Government later this month, the plan (known locally as Qanun
RTRWA) will severely threaten Aceh's last remaining lowland forests and
the life support they provide to millions of Acehnese people.

Currently under review by Indonesia's Central Government, the spatial
plan will open up huge areas of Aceh's ecologically sensitive forests to
mining, timber and plantation concessions.

Aceh's people have long recognised the critical ecological services their
forests provide. Local communities rely on these forest ecosystems for
clean water for downstream irrigation, agriculture and food production, as
well as mitigation of environmental disasters.

Mr Muhammad Nur, Director of WALHI Aceh, representing 35 Acehnese
environmental NGOs, has warned the deforestation that will result from the
spatial plan will lead to more severe impacts from often catastrophic
disasters such as flash floods and landslides.

"In the last six years Aceh has experienced more than 1,000 major floods
and close to 300 landslides. This plan will significantly increase both the
frequency and severity of such disasters, leading to many more human lives
being lost and immeasurable impacts on local livelihoods through
destruction of crops and infrastructure."

Aceh's unique biodiversity will also face devastating impacts. Indeed,
the plan entirely disregards the existence of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of
the most important conservation areas in the world, despite the 2.2 million
hectares (of its total 2.6 million ha) that lie within Aceh having
protected legal status under National Law on Aceh Governance (11/2006), as
well as designation as a National Strategic Area for its Environmental
Protection Function, under Indonesia's National Spatial Planning law
(26/2007 juncto Government Regulation 26/2008).

Acehnese environmental lawyer, Kamaruddin, declared, "the spatial plan
clearly breaches Aceh Governance law no 11/2006. This law obligates
Aceh's Government to protect the Leuser Ecosystem and the fact that the
current spatial plan doesn't even acknowledge its existence opens up all
sorts of legal ramifications if it is signed into law."

Dr Ian Singleton, of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, warned,
"If the Indonesian Central Government approves Aceh's spatial plan, the
Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orangutan will be pushed to extinction.
There is no question that we will see them all disappear in less than a
lifetime unless this spatial plan is rejected."

Ironically, on the same day that Aceh's Parliament passed the spatial
plan, The Jakarta Post (27/12/2013) published an Open Letter written by a
consortium of scientists and economists recommending Aceh's Governor, Dr
Zaini Abdullah, nominate the Leuser Ecosystem as a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. This followed from an article published in the international journal
Science (15/11/2013) listing the Leuser Ecosystem as one of the
"world's most irreplaceable protected areas" (Le Saout et al. 2013,
p. 803).

"Nationally and internationally, the Leuser Ecosystem plays a critical
role in carbon storage and climate regulation", the Open Letter stated.
"Aceh is rightly proud of these ecological services that have been valued
at over $US 400 million per year."

If carried out, the new plan will also undermine the effectiveness of a $1
billion REDD deal between the governments of Indonesia and Norway, aimed at
reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation.

Efendi Isma of KPHA (Coalition of Concern for Aceh's Forests) stated,
"We are calling on the Indonesian Central Government to reject the
current Aceh spatial plan. We urge the Aceh Government to revise the plan
to account for the Leuser Ecosystem's legally protected status, and to
acknowledge the customary management rights of local communities and the
Mukims (read: a uniquely Acehnese traditional institution). Leuser's
critically important forests must remain intact so that the immeasurable
environmental services and benefits they provide can continue to support
the well-being and livelihoods of Aceh's people over the long term."

The Save Aceh campaign is supported by scientists, economists and
environmentalists. You can help Save Aceh by:

∑      Tweeting your support for the campaign using #SaveAceh tagging
Indonesia's President @SBYudhoyono.


1. Dr Ian Singleton, Director - Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.
Tel: +62-811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com

2. Muhammad Nur, Executive Director - WAHLI Aceh. Tel: +62-8126970494,
Email: mnur.walhiaceh@gmail.com

3. Graham Usher, Landscape Protection Specialist, PanEco Foundation. Tel:
+62-87766394260, Email: kimabajo1@gmail.com

4. Kamaruddin, Lawyer. Tel: +62-8116700118, Email:

5. Rudi Putra, Conservation Manager – HakA. Tel: +62-8126435929, Email:

Soizic Le Saout, Michael Hoffmann, Yichuan Shi, Adrian Hughes, Cyril
Bernard, Thomas M. Brooks, Bastian Bertzky, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Simon N.
Stuart, Tim Badman, Ana S. L. Rodrigues, 2013. Protected Areas and
Effective Biodiversity Conservation. Science, vol 342, 15 November 2013; Pp


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