LONDON: On the day Indonesia’s landmark moratorium on forest conversion was signed and celebrated in Jakarta, it was being actively broken in a crime-riddled Pilot Province, a new report reveals.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Telapak documented peat forest in Central Kalimantans moratorium zone being illegally razed by palm oil firm PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana (PT Menteng) on May 19.
The moratorium and Pilot Province are both cornerstones of Indonesias US$1bn agreement with Norway on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
Yet Norway perversely stands to profit from the moratorium breach via its US$41.5m shareholding in PT Mentengs parent company, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK).
In the new briefing Caught REDD Handed, EIA and Telapak warn that regulatory chaos and a culture of impunity in Indonesia’s plantation sector pose a serious threat to the moratorium and any meaningful attempt to protect the nations forests and reduce carbon emissions.
While PT Menteng is already violating the moratorium, information from the Indonesian authorities shows hundreds of plantations are operating beyond the law in Central Kalimantan alone, where illegal plantations substantially outnumber legal ventures.
Crime and corruption in Indonesias forestry sector has resulted in President Yudhoyonos moratorium being undermined the very day it was signed, said EIA forest campaigner Tomasz Johnson. Without significant law enforcement improvements, REDD+ looks set to fail in Indonesia.
EIA research shows that Norways Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has investments in scores of plantation and logging companies in Indonesia, including four major groups operating 24 plantation subsidiaries without relevant permits in the Central Kalimantan Pilot Province.
EIA estimates Norway has made roughly five times more money from plantations and logging in Indonesia and neighbouring countries during the past year (including illegal operations) than it has granted to Indonesia thus far under the US$1bn REDD+ Letter of Intent.
Relying only on the moratorium and REDD money will not solve the problem of deforestation in Indonesia, and with such poor forest governance in this country we should all be aware of countries such as Norway which are able to take a profit from deforestation, said Telapak Campaigns Director Hapsoro.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION in EIA/TELAPAK BRIEFING CAUGHT REDD HANDED
The Government of President Yudhoyono should:
1. immediately halt and investigate the activities of PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana;
2. significantly improve law enforcement in the plantation sector;
3. employ the Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK) to audit for forest clearance without relevant permits;
4. ensure the moratorium map is strengthened rather than weakened in future revisions.
The Government of Norway should:
1. immediately investigate the plantations operations of the KLK group, and three other groups with operations in Central Kalimantan, in which the country holds significant shares;
2. institute formal policy and investment coordination between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Environment to ensure Pension Fund investments adhere to the goals of REDD+ in Indonesia and worldwide;
3. use its privileged financial position and positive climate change reputation to engender frank and open debate at the international level on how to make investment and commodity markets crime- and deforestation-free.
Interviews are available on request:
Please contact senior campaigner Jago Wadley on firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest campaigner Tomasz Johnson email@example.com
A copy of the full briefing is available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 020 7354 7960.