President Must Intervene Forest Ecosystem in Aru Islands

Bogor, 23 April 2014. Forest ecosystem in Aru Islands must be protected and preserved. The President of Republic of Indonesia should instruct the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to immediately issue policies to ensure sustainability of forest ecosystems in small islands, including Aru Islands. This includes implementing policies that protect and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral territories, lands and resources.

Indonesian Minister of Forestry Mr. Zulkifli Hasan has stated that the plan to open sugarcane plantations in Aru Islands has been cancelled. The slopes of the land is not suitable and the fact that it is not economically good enough to invest in sugarcane plantations in Aru Islands had come into considerations by the Forestry Minister. The Minister himself in between a press conference delivered this statement on April 11, 2014 in Gedung Manggala Wanabakti Building, Ministry of Forestry’s office, Jakarta.

The campaigner of Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), Abu Meridian, said, “In fact, the statement by Zulkifli Hasan has to be appreciated. However, does this mean the natural forests in Aru Islands will remain exploit in other ways?” Thus, “The commitment should be proven by issuing a decree to revoke the approval of principle provisions for sugarcane, and by not providing such opportunity to other companies. The Minister of Forestry should strongly be committed that he will never give permission for any conversion of natural forests activities in other regions, such as Papua and other small islands,” added Abu.

Moratorium Area In Aru Islands
The Presidential Instruction Number 10 of 2011, which extended by the issuance of Presidential Instruction Number 6 of 2013, which explains that sugarcane plantation is one of excluded permits in the policy. This indicates that the forest moratorium does not apply for sugarcane permit plantation. The FWI’s analysis result, of comparing the Indicative Map of New License Suspension (PIPIB) V (moratorium area) with the concession map of sugarcane companies, shows that at least 67 thousand ha of concession area is located in the moratorium area. Overall the mainland of Aru Islands in the moratorium area is 190 thousand ha.

“Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), based on interpretation of Landsat-imagery in 2013, discovered 660 thousand ha or 83% of mainland in Aru Islands is natural forest, of which 478 thousand ha is located outside the area of forest moratorium. Supposedly that large area of natural forest is put into the Indicative Map of New License Suspension (moratorium area),” said Abu. Abu also emphasized, “There has to be a big change in the next PIPIB VI. Natural forests in Aru Islands should be put into the moratorium area so there is no reason to issue permit in the region.”

Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) also stated, “The President of Republic of Indonesia should intervene to protect the forest ecosystem in Aru Islands and the rights of indigenous people who have lived and have sustainably managed their respective customary lands for generations. The President must ensure that the spirit and ruling of Constitutional Court’s Decision Number 35/X/2012 is fully implemented in this region,” said Abdon.

Protection of Coastal Zones and Small Islands
The Act Number 27 of 2007, revised by Act Number 4 of 2014 regarding Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands, states that an island which has an area of less than or equal 2,000 square km is classified as a small island. Aru Islands Regency consists of 187 islands. Based on image analysis that has been done, FWI discovered that only Trangan Island in South Aru that has an area of 2300 square km, the rest is less than 2000 square km.

Dwi Lesmana, a researcher in Water Catchment Area FWI, explained, “Small islands are areas which have a fast water circulation system. The forest conversion activities in Aru Islands have been very threatening to the ecological sustainability of coastal zones and small islands in the area. Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister must commit to protect the Aru Islands,” Dwi Lesmana reaffirmed.

Similarly, the Secretary General of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, added, “Government has also an obligation to recognize, to respect and to protect the rights of indigenous people in coastal area and small islands in accordance with Article 60 Act Number 27 of 2007.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) is an independent Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) comprises of indigenous communities from all over the country.
  2. Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) is an independent forest monitoring network organization consists of individuals and organizations that are committed to create the management process of forestry data and information in Indonesia which is transparent and capable to ensure the fair and sustainable management of forest resources. Among the FWI activities is also conducting campaigns and monitoring programs related to deforestation and forest crimes.
  3. Aru Islands Regency is located on the southeast of Maluku Province, adjacent to Australia in the Arafura Sea. The Regency has about 187 islands; 89 of them are inhabited.
  4. FWI’s analysis result through a Landsat-imagery interpretation on 2013 shows that 660 thousand ha or 83% of mainland in Aru Islands is natural forest. While the total land area in Aru Islands is 805 thousand hectares.
  5. Instruction of President of the Republic of Indonesia Number 10 of 2011 about Suspension of Granting of New Licenses and Improvement of Governance of Natural Primary Forest and Peat Land. Point b in the second part of the Presidential Instruction No. 10 of 2011 explains the exception given to the suspension of granting new licenses. It reads: “The implementation of national development that are vital, for example: geothermal, oil and gas, electricity, land for rice and sugarcane”. This Instruction was then revised in 2013 with the Instruction of President of the Republic of Indonesia Number 06 of 2013.
  6. Act Number 27 of 2007 regarding the management of coastal zone and small islands. In 2014, the Government issued Act Number 1 of 2014 on amendment to the Act Number 27 of 2007 about Management on Coastal Zones and Small Islands.
  7. Article 35 Act Number 27 of 2007: In the exploitation of Coastal Zone and Small Islands, all person directly or indirectly is prohibited from: (a) mining the coral reef that is damaging to the Ecosystem of the coral reef; (b) collect coral reef from the Conservation Area; (c) use explosives, toxic substances, and/or other substances that is damaging to the Ecosystem of the coral reef; (d) use instruments, means, and other methods that is damaging to the Ecosystem of the coral reef; (e) use means and methods that is damaging to the Ecosystem of mangrove which is inappropriate for the characteristic of Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (f) carry out the conversion of the mangrove Ecosystem within the Area or Zone for mariculture which do not take into account the sustainability of the ecological function of the Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (g) cut off mangrove from the Conservation Area for industrial activity, settlement, and/or other activities; (h) use means and method which is damaging to the sea-grass beds; (i) mining of sand in an area which is technically, ecologically, socio and/or culturally may caused damage to the environment and/or causing pollution to the environment and/or detrimental to the local Community; (j) mining of oil and gas in an area which from the technical, ecological, social and/or cultural aspects is damaging to the environment and/or causing pollution to the environment and/or detrimental to the local Community; (k) mining of minerals which from the technical, ecological, social and/or cultural aspects resulting in the damage to the environment and/or causing pollution to the environment and/or detrimental to the local Community; and (l) carry out physical construction which is damaging to the environment and/or detrimental to the local Community.
  8. Article 60 paragraph 1 of Act Number 27 of 2007: In the Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands, the public has the rights to: (a) obtain access to the waters which has been established by HP-3; (b) obtain compensation resulting from the loss of acess to the Coastal Zone and Small Islands Resources which has been their working field to fulfill the need resulting from the issuance of HP3 in accordance with the existing laws and regulations; (c) carry out activity in the management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands in accordance with existing customs (adat law) and not in contrary with existing laws and regulations; (d) obtain benefit from the implementation of the Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (e) obtain information with regard to the Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (f) submit a report and claim to the authority for the loss he/she suffered related to the implementation of the Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (g) stated his/her objection to the management plan which has been announced at a particular period of time; (h) report to the law enforcement officer of a pollution and/or damage to the Coastal Zone and Small Islands; (i) submit a claim to the court of any problems related to the Coastal Zone and Small Islands; and (j) obtain compensation.

CONTACT FOR INTERVIEW
Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI)
Website: http://fwi.or.id
Phone/Fax: +62 251 8333 308 / +62 251 8317 926
??Informant:
Campaigner/Spokesman of FWI, Abu Meridian
(email: abu.meridian @ fwi.or.id Mobile: +62 857 1576 6732)
Researcher on Water Catchment Areas FWI, Dwi Lesmana (email: dlesmana@fwi.or.id Mobile: +6281380160930)
Contact: Mufti Ode (email: muftiode@fwi.or.id Mobile: +62 856 9305 0205)

Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)
Website: http://www.aman.or.id
Phone/Fax: +62 251 8297 954 / +62 251 8370 6282
Keynote Speaker: Secretary General AMAN, Abdon Nababan
(email: abdon.nababan @ aman.or.id Mobile: +62 811 111 365)
Contact: Firdaus Cahyadi
(email: firdaus.cahyadi @ aman.or.id Mobile: +62 815 1327 5698)

For the needs of maps and photographs, please contact:
Mufti Ode (email: muftiode@fwi.or.id HP: +62 856 9305 0205)

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