Bogor, 11 March 2014. A 480,000 ha sugarcane plantation has been approved on the Aru Islands. The islands are located in Maluku, and comprise a total of 770,000 ha, of which 730,000 ha remain natural forest.

In 2010, then Bupati (regent) of Aru Islands, Teddy Tengko, issued licenses, permits, and recommendations for the use of 480,000 ha as plantations for 28 companies. All companies are subsidiaries of the PT. Menara Group, a private company in the plantation sector. This was reinforced by then Governor of Maluku, Karel Albert Ralahalu, through a recommendation letter filed in July 2011.

Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) found that, based on Land Use Planns (RTRWK) for Aru Islands 2009-2028, 76% area of the proposed sugarcane plantation by PT Menara Group are remains natural forest

It is suspected that violations occured at the early onset, when PT Menara Group obtained a Plantation Business Permit (SIUP) before obtaining an Environmental Permit Letter (SIL). While this is in clear violation of Environmental Law No 32/2009, 19 of the 28 companies have already gained approval from the Ministry of Forestry.

“The permit documents released has been indicated is not in accordance with Environmental Law No. 32/2009 and Spatial Planning Law No. 26/2007,” said Abu Meridian, Campaign Coordinator FWI.

Converting forests into sugarcane plantations will have negative impact on the existing eco-system. The Aru islands are famed for biodiversity, featuring prominently in the classic Wallacea text, “The Malay Archipelago,” by Alfred R. Wallace. Conversion to plantation would destroy of habitat for various species endemic to the Wallacea region, including birds of paradise (Paradisaea apoda), tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus sp), black cockatoos (Prebosciger aterrimus), aru-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita eleonora), and cassowary (Casuarius casuarius).

“If the Menara Group moves ahead with their plans for sugarcane plantations and massive conversion of natural forest, it can be certain that biodiversity in both land and the waters of Aru Islands will become extinct”, Abu Meridian said.

Large-scale land clearing will have an equally severe negative impact on the lives of local communities and indigenous peoples who have inhabited these areas for generations.

“The concessions in question takes away the rights of indigenous communities over their territories. The livelihoods of local communities depend closely on existing natural resources and tenure security, and both will be destroyed. The local government of Maluku, through the existing land clearing plan, has denied communities continued benefit from fisheries and land use, both mainstays for Maluku community development “Abdon Nababan, the Secretary-General of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) explained in a press statement.

Notes to Editors:
1) The District of Kepulauan Aru consists of the islands located in the southeastern of Maluku province, immediately adjacent to Australia in the Arafura Sea. This district is comprised of about 187 islands, with 89 of them inhabited. Forest cover is approximately 730,000 ha in the Kepulauan Aru is equivalent to 12 times the land area of Singapore.

2) Based on the Draft Final Report of Land Use Planning for Kepulauan Aru, published in 2008. The condition of land cover in 2006 is presented as follows:
Source :BAPPEDA District of Kepulauan Aru, Landsat Image Proccesing ETM7+ coverage of 2006.

3) In 2011 the Bupati of Kepulauan Aru, Teddy Tengko, was tried on corruption charges over allocations of the Regional Government Budget (APBD) of Kepulauan Aru. He currently remains in jail in Bandung, West Java.

4) According to the Local Government (LG) of the District of Aru Islands, fisheries production from Aru Islands reached 19937.20 tonnes per year (equivalent to Rp71 billion) in 2006. In addition, Aru has long been the territory of cultured pearls for dozens of companies at home and abroad. In 1969 a Japanese company has invested US$ 1 million for the cultivation of pearl oysters in Fatujuring, Aru Islands. Source: ‘Orang-orang Kalah’ (Insist, 2004)


Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI)
Phone / Fax : +62251 8333308 / +62 251 8317926
Speaker : Campaign Manager of FWI, Abu Meridian (e-mail : HP: +6285715766732)
Contact : Mufti Ode (e-mail : HP:+6285693050205)

Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN)
Phone / Fax : +62 8297954 / 83706282
Speaker : Secretary-General AMAN, Abdon Nababan (e-mail: ; HP: +62811111365)
Contact : Firdaus Cahyadi (e-mail : HP: +6281513275 698)

For maps and photos, please contact:
Mufti Ode (e-mail : HP: +6285693050205)

Press release on word format:
Aru FWI-AMAN Press Release (348 kb)

For image, you could see on the page below:

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