Precarious politics pose threats to world’s three biggest rainforests

By Sara Stefanini

Political uncertainty hangs over large swathes of the world’s tropical forests this year, raising the risk of more destruction and carbon emissions.

Recent leadership changes in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and presidential elections in Indonesia in April, are fuelling concerns that politics could side with industries such as palm oil, timber, mining and agriculture in the world’s three biggest rainforest countries.

Brazil’s new right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on promises to open the Amazon up to development. In his first foray on the international stage last week, he called on international businesses to invest in the country’s natural resources.

READ MORE: France aims to ban deforestation imports by 2030

The DRC’s peaceful presidential election of Felix Tshisekedi last month was the first democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960 – although the African Union and European Union questioned the results and The Financial Times reported “massive electoral fraud”.

It now remains to be seen whether Tshisekedi’s government curbs forest clearing and cracks down on the corruption that undermines conservation efforts. He gave little indication during the campaign.


Meanwhile in Indonesia, the two presidential candidates – incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo  and ex-army officer Prabowo Subianto – have given vague promises of environmental protection but few details. That said, Jokowi, who won as an outsider populist in 2014, has done more than some expected to tackle deforestation.

As of 2015, Brazil was home to 12 percent of total forest global cover, the DRC nearly 4 percent and Indonesia 2 percent, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. But tree cover in all three nations continues to shrink.

Worst effects
The actions of the new governments could determine the world’s ability to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.

“Forests could provide about a third of the solution to climate change, but at the moment they’re more part of the problem because of deforestation,” said Tim Christophersen, head of UN Environment’s freshwater, land and climate branch in Kenya.

“If that was stopped and we could restore forests at a large scale, we could probably close about a third of the current emissions gap.”

For now, efforts to stem deforestation have mostly failed to make a dent. The tropics lost an area the size of Vietnam over 2016 and 2017, when tree cover shrunk by record levels, according to the data and monitoring website Global Forest Watch.

Brazil’s deforestation in 2017 was equivalent to 365 million tonnes of CO2 and jumped by almost 50 percent over the three months of campaigning before Bolsonaro was elected last year. The DRC’s tree cover loss was equivalent to 158Mt last year and Indonesia’s to 125Mt.

Environmentalists are particularly concerned about Brazil. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Bolsonaro stressed Brazil’s history of environmental protection while touting its economic opportunities.

But the “wave of forest destruction and violence” started when Bolsonaro immediately removed environmental and human rights safeguards, said Christian Poirier, programme director at the NGO Amazon Watch.

Reckless moves
“These reckless moves, tailored to serve Brazil’s agribusiness and extractive industries, undermine fundamental constitutional protections that preserve forests and assure the safety of the indigenous and traditional communities who call them home,” he said.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, deforestation remains relatively high and driven by clearing for agriculture, the use of wood for energy, timber and mining, said Christophersen.

The UN’s REDD+ programme, which pays developing countries to reduce their deforestation, is starting to work in some places. But it was forced to freeze payments to the government last year amid concerns over the awarding of new logging concessions to Chinese companies. Peatlands across the Congo Basin could release huge stocks of carbon if developed for mining and fossil fuels, Christophersen added.

There is more optimism around Indonesia, although environmentalists are still wary.

Jokowi initially raised concerns that he would not follow through on his predecessor’s commitments on forestry, but then made progressive moves such as creating a new peatland restoration agency and extending a 2011 moratorium on licenses in forest and peatland, said Frances Seymour, distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute.

Still, it will be up to the next president to cement that ban and push Indonesia’s large palm oil industry to become more sustainable, said Panut Hadisiswoyo, founding director of the Orangutan Information Centre in Indonesia. The country has around 69 percent of its natural forest intact, he said.

“I worry that with the current visions of the presidential candidates, they have no specific calls for the protection of this remaining forest,” Hadisiswoyo said. “This natural forest is the last limit for sustaining our biodiversity. I worry that this forest will have no guarantee to strive, to be kept as forest.”

Good signs
There are some good signs. Costa Rica’s tree cover grew from 20 perecent to around 50 percent over 30 years, Christophersen noted. And Indonesia’s loss dropped by 60 percent year-on-year in 2017, which Global Forest Watch attributed in part to a 2016 moratorium on peat drainage, educational campaigns and stronger enforcement.

“Without political leadership, we would not see with those kinds of successes,” Christophersen said.

However the potential for more damage remains strong – especially at a time of more nationalistic populist leaders such as Bolsonaro.

“A cross-cutting issue is how this global wave of populism plays out in the climate change debate, and in these countries how it plays out with respect to land use in particular,” said Seymour.

  • France intends to stop importing soy, palm oil, beef, wood and other products linked to deforestation and unsustainable agriculture by 2030, shooting ahead of the rest of the European Union, reports Climate Change News.

The new national strategy to combat imported deforestation, released by the environment ministry late last year, will use trade to help decouple economic development from tree-cutting and unsustainable agriculture in poorer countries.

Sara Stefanini is a senior journalist with Climate Change News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

To conserve West Papua, start with land rights and forget past mistakes

ANALYSIS:  By Bernadinus Steni and Daniel Nepstad

Large landscapes of intact tropical forests will figure prominently in global strategies to avert catastrophic climate change and conserve biodiversity.

In this context, the extensive forests of Papua and West Papua provinces in Indonesia are now becoming the focus of international conservation efforts. There are many inherent perils to this new boom in conservation in the provinces, which could repeat past mistakes that have deprived and dispossessed indigenous Papuans from their lands.

Here we briefly outline the challenges of conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights in West Papua province*, based on our ongoing collaborative applied research projects in the province that began in 2013.

READ MORE: The denial of traditional land rights in West Papua

West Papua Province, located in the Bird’s Head region of Papua (New Guinea) with a total area of 9.7 million hectares, retains more than 90 percent of its forest cover (Figure 1).

West Papua Province was created in 2003 by splitting the province previously known as Papua into two provinces. As one of the youngest provinces in Indonesia, West Papua is under pressure to accelerate socio-economic development.


The poverty rate in West Papua is high, although declining. In 2016, one fourth of West Papuans (225,800 people) lived under the regional poverty line, defined as 475 thousand Indonesian rupiah (about US$31) per month (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2017).

The rural areas of West Papua, which are mostly populated by indigenous Papuans, are poorer than urban areas.

Extensive forests
Although lagging behind in its socio-economic development, West Papua is one of few provinces with extensive native forests.

The total forest cover in West Papua is approximately 90 percent of the total area, for a total of 8.9 million hectares. This figure includes all forest cover within both state forests and non-forest areas.

Figure 1: Land cover in West Papua province in 2016, based on data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Map: Mongabay

Due to the biological diversity of the province as well its high proportion of forest cover, civil society organisations and international conservation organisations have advocated for the government to declare the province a conservation province.

The provincial government declared in 2015 that it would become a Conservation Province, and the supporting provincial regulation for the conservation province, now retitled as a “Sustainable Development Province”, has been drafted (Note 1).

There are many inherent dangers to the designation of West Papua as a conservation province. The province is rich in its natural environment but also has one of Indonesia’s highest rates of poverty.

Indonesian planning processes have historically not formally acknowledged customary ownership of land or zoned as forest areas.

By zoning areas as part of the forest estate, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, with conservation areas managed by the central government. There are several types of conservation areas under Indonesian law, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and hunting parks.

People displaced
Within the core areas of national parks and also the entire area of wildlife sanctuaries, no land uses are permitted. The establishment of conservation areas in Indonesia has historically led to the significant displacement of indigenous peoples from the core areas, restricting their access to both land and livelihoods.

The provincial government of West Papua, with the support of the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and civil society organisations (Note 2), have developed a draft provincial regulation on the recognition of customary land rights.

The regulation builds on the momentum of the Indonesian constitutional court decision in 2012, 35/PUU-X/2012, which recognised the rights of indigenous groups to lands within the Indonesian forest estate.

At present, there is uncertainty about how the sustainable development and customary land rights draft regulations would affect one other, once implemented.

Finally, in parallel to these initiatives, the administration of President Joko Widodo, which came into office in 2015, has been focusing on reducing poverty in regional areas of Indonesia, with a particular focus on the Indonesian portion of the island of New Guinea.

The main element of his policy has been to increase spending on infrastructure development as well as driving agricultural development. Previously remote and inaccessible areas of Papua are now finally getting access to roads and electricity, increasing their access to markets and other opportunities.

Can these three policy initiatives — for conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights — be balanced in a way that benefits both indigenous Papuans and the environment?

Balanced solution
From our research in West Papua, undertaken through various initiatives since 2013, we highlight several challenges to finding a balanced solution:

  • A systematic lack of spatial and socio-economic data on West Papuans, in particular their land ownership systems;
  • Limited markets and low prices for commodities or crops produced by Papuans coupled with missing downstream industries that could add value to these products; and
  • Spatial planning and land allocation processes that do not fully consider the rights and distribution of benefits to indigenous communities.

These challenges are all evident in the district of Fakfak, located in the central-western part of the province (Figure 1).

Fakfak District faces the Maluku Islands and historically, has long been integrated into the spice trade, especially for its local variety of nutmeg. Nutmeg and mace have been historically used worldwide for culinary purposes and can be processed further to produce essential oil and oleoresin.

Although Indonesia has been the center of nutmeg production for over a thousand years, the full potential of the nutmeg market remains untapped. One of the main undervalued nutmeg varieties is Papuan nutmeg (Myristica argentea Warb) or locally known as Pala Tomandin.

Papuan nutmeg is commercially grown in Fakfak and Kaimana districts in West Papua, with most of the production concentrated in Fakfak district. Nutmeg is cultivated in wild and semi-wild forests by indigenous farmers, in lands owned and managed under customary laws.

Diversified livelihoods
Despite being registered as a geographical indication in 2014 as Pala Tomandin, the demand and price for Papuan nutmeg remains low. Consequently, nutmeg farmers often have diversified livelihoods such as fishing and seaweed cultivation or farming other crops.

Deforestation has remained relatively limited in Fakfak District, although the period of 2010 to 2016 saw a spike in clearing related to forestry concessions and the allocation of an oil palm concession, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Landcover change in Fakfak District from 1990 to 2016, showing the large area of secondary forest in forest concessions, created by logging operations. Map: Mongabay

Concessions, where logging companies not owned by local communities extract timber, remain the main driver of deforestation, which is a trend that has been increasing. Forest degradation, which is the conversion of primary forests to secondary forest, has primarily been driven by forestry concessions and spiked dramatically during the period of 2000 to 2010.

The rate of forest degradation declined significantly after this period, with the majority of degradation now occurring outside of forestry concessions. Currently, indigenous land owners receive compensation payments for timber harvested by the concessionaires, although the amount and distribution of benefits may vary.

From our case studies in Fakfak District, local people have described localised processes of demographic expansion and increasing financial pressures, such as the costs of paying for secondary and tertiary education for their children, as the causes of this expansion into primary forest areas.

The case of Fakfak district reveals the complexity of solving the intertwined challenges of poverty, indigenous land rights and conservation. Recognising indigenous land rights should be prioritized, to achieve both social justice and environmental conservation.

In the Amazon region, for example, formal recognition of indigenous territories inhibits deforestation just as much as conservation areas do. The recognition of land rights requires maps that delineate the boundaries of indigenous territories.

Social taboos
There are social taboos, however, in delineating these boundaries as historically boundaries between different tribes and clans were established through wars and conflict. Without proper and legitimate mediation processes in place, mapping customary boundaries has the potential to reignite these conflicts.

In the absence of conflict mediation mechanisms and institutions, there are other methods available for delineating indigenous land ownership. INOBU, together with AKAPE, a Fakfak based NGO, has trialed mapping lands based on land use instead of ownership rights, particularly focused on nutmeg forest gardens in Fakfak district.

Thus far, we have mapped 263 farmers with a total area of 792 hectares in 20 villages. These maps provide indicative maps of customary use of forest areas, which will later serve as the basis for discussion on ownership rights between clans and tribes, and with the government.

Recognising the land rights will not be sufficient to solve the problem of deforestation and forest degradation, although it will help. Improving the value and markets for locally important forest commodities is crucial.

In Fakfak, we have been working on improving the markets and value of Papuan nutmeg while strengthening alternative livelihoods in order to alleviate the economic pressures on indigenous Papuan households.

We have been engaging with nutmeg exporters to ensure that the product meets the standards required by international markets. We have also been working with an Indonesian cosmetics company to help develop local industries for processed nutmeg products.

All these interventions, in turn, should be counterbalanced by strengthening customary institutions for sustainably managing forest resources. Finally, a district level, multi-stakeholder platform will guide the sustainable production of nutmeg in Fakfak district.

Broader application
The lessons from Fakfak district can be applied more broadly to the province of West Papua. We propose that the recognition of the land and resource rights of indigenous Papuans should be the immediate priority of the provincial government, donors and conservation and development organisations.

Conservation should be viewed through the prism of strengthening customary systems and institutions, including village (kampung) administrations, for managing the environment rather than the expansion of protected areas.

The recognition of indigenous land and resource rights should not, however, extinguish their rights to develop in accordance with their own aspirations. Rather, indigenous groups should be supported through interventions that help them to develop profitable and sustainable industries, as well as support for accessing health and education.

An essential part of this should be developing economic alternatives for indigenous people that increase the value of standing, well-managed forests. Strict conservation, where necessary, should be supported through adequate financial and other incentives, with the benefits distributed equitably.

Prior to establishing or expanding conservation areas, governments should also assess the potential effects on indigenous peoples, including how it will contribute to, or impede, poverty reduction targets and the likelihood of future conflicts.

The Jokowi administration’s proposed investments in roads and electrification could help improve the economic viability of new community-based enterprises in West Papua if designed and implemented with the participation of local stakeholders, especially indigenous communities.

Participatory planning
Without effective participatory planning, investments like these can lead to a natural resource-grabbing free-for-all.

The goals of both social justice and conservation are best served by recognition of land rights plus the development of economic alternatives for forest communities that enhance their livelihoods by increasing the value of their forests.

First and foremost, West Papuan’s indigenous peoples need to have a prominent seat at the table as the future of the province is planned.

*West Papua generally refers to all of the western half of Papua New Guinea island administered by Indonesia. West Papua, as referred to in this article, also applies to the smaller western province of the island as opposed to the larger Papua province.  This article article is republished from Mongabay – “News and inspiration from nature’s frontline”. Bernadinus Steni is secretary of the Institut Inovasi Bumi and Daniel Nepstad is the executive director of Earth Innovation Institute.

1. As part of the draft regulation for a Sustainable Development Province (Ranperdasus Provinsi Pembangunan Berkelanjutan), the government has established the following targets: 1. Local governments and stakeholders ensure that the use of clean, renewable energy reaches 50 percent with the period of 20 years from the enactment of this local regulation; 2. Local governments commit to reduce the rate of deforestation by 80 percent of the average rate of deforestation and degradation in 2009; 3. With a minimum period of 20 years from the enactment of this special autonomy regulation, as much as 50 percent of forests will be managed sustainably; 4. Local governments are obliged to protect a minimum of 80 percent of important habitats and 50 percent of every type of ecosystem; and for coastal and marine areas: Local governments are obliged to preserve a minimum of 30 percent of coastal areas and waters as Water Conservation Areas that include a minimum of 20 percent of the area as No Take Zones within a specific period considering ecological attributes.

2. Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) and Earth Innovation Institute, supported by the Norad-financed Forest, Farms and Finance Initiative, supported the drafting and initial consultations for the draft special autonomy regulation on the recognition of indigenous peoples (Ranperdasus Pengakuan Masyarakat Hukum Adat Papua di Provinsi Papua Barat). The regulation is the first step towards recognizing the land rights of indigenous peoples, as the existence of customary groups must be acknowledged first.

John Watts (INOBU, EII), Silvia Irawan (INOBU, EII) and Triyoga Widiastomo (INOBU) contributed to this Commentary; funding was provided by NORAD and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers


“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.


The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Calls grow for Jokowi to protect Indonesia’s Tapanuli orangutan

By Evi Mariani and Apriadi Gunawan in Jekarta and Medan

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya paid a visit to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the palace last October 31 bearing good news. A group of scientists had confirmed the finding of a new orangutan species called Tapanuli orangutan, she reported to the President.

Less than a year later, the global scientists who researched the endangered species sent two letters to the Presidential Palace. The first letter in July said there was a Chinese-funded hydropower project in the orangutan habitat that “could be the death knell for the Tapanuli orangutan, by flooding a key expanse of its habitat and, even more crucially, by slicing up its remaining forest home with new roads, power lines, tunnels and other built facilities”.

The scientists believe only 800 Tapanuli orangutans remain in their habitat, the Batang Toru ecosystem in South Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra.

The apes, with frizzier hair than their Bornean and Sumatran counterparts, have been threatened by poaching and illegal logging. The planned dam, they believe, will make the species’ chance of survival slimmer.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included the species – Pongo tapanuliensis – on its red list, calling it “critically endangered”.

The second letter, dated August 16, reiterated the scientists’ request, saying that they had collected scientific evidence that had led them to believe the project “should not have been approved initially by the North Sumatra provincial government”.


‘Green’ dam
The company responsible for the project, PT North Sumatera Hydro Energy (NSHE), denied the scientists’ claims, saying that the hydropower plant, designed to produce 510 megawatts of electricity, was an “environmentally friendly” project, which would not flood much of the Batang Toru ecosystem.

The NSHE said the hydropower plant, which used “run-of-river technology” and had Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro as the contractor and operator, would only flood 67.7 ha of area in Batang Toru, which is not a protected forest but an area penggunaan lain (nonforest estate). The company also argued that it had completed all the necessary documents required by the North Sumatra administration.

The company, which is financially backed by a consortium of Chinese and international banks, said it had taken measures to protect the orangutans and that it was also interested in protecting the forest because its project depended on the abundance of water in the Batang Toru River.

“We will join any effort in the future that aims to better the orangutan habitat,” Agus Djoko Ismanto, a senior adviser to the NSHE, said recently. “We are not planning to inundate 9600 ha,” Agus said.

Poacher threat
The scientists, however, are not convinced.

One of them, Bill Laurance, director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at Australia’s James Cook University, said in-depth scientific analysis of the conservation status and threats to the Tapanuli orangutan had found that when new roads appeared, apes disappeared.

The NSHE confirmed that besides the 67.7 ha that will be flooded with water; about 600 ha will be used to build roads, tunnels and other infrastructure.

In the letter addressed to the President in July, 25 scientists from all over the world, including Jatna Supriatna from the University of Indonesia, said that instead of approving the dam project, the government should have had initiated forest restoration efforts in Batang Toru.

“Roads are a particularly insidious threat because they open the ape’s habitat to poachers, illegal loggers, miners and land encroachers. Recent scientific analysis shows that the Tapanuli orangutan survives only where roads are almost entirely absent,” the letter said.

1.3 million supporters
Environmentalists and others all over the world have voiced their support for the scientists. A global campaign to save the species began early this month and had gained more than 1.31 million supporters.

“As citizens from across the world, we urge you to save the last 800 Tapanuli orangutans from extinction by canceling the Batang Toru hydropower dam project. The fate of this entire species rests in your hands, “the petition on said.

Protests from national environmentalists have also escalated into a lawsuit. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the regional administration’s decision to issue permits for the power plant.

One of the organisation’s lawyers, Golfrid Siregar, said the permit issuance was problematic on account of the lack of discussion and participation from locals.

Separately, the director of Walhi’s North Sumatra office, Dana Prima Tarigan, said the power plant could also cause an ecological disaster, as it would be located near an earthquake-prone area in the province.

In response to the growing calls, the Environment and Forestry Ministry had held a coordination meeting with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the company to discuss possible solutions.

Task force
“After the meeting, we established a joint team comprising personnel from both ministries, the company, regional administration and the Indonesian Orangutan Forum [Forina], which is task with looking for alternatives to be applied in the area,” the ministry’s natural resources and ecosystems director-general Wiratno said last week.

One of the solutions offered by the company, he added, was to build an “orangutan corridor” that would help the animal migrate between the two forest areas in Batang Toru.

Should the concept be applied in the area, it will become the first corridor to be implemented in Indonesia.

“It, however, was still an idea. The team will need to go into the area first before offering possible solutions. We are still waiting for data from the field,” Wiratno said.

Kharishar Kahfi contributed to this story for The Jakarta Post from the capital of Jakarta.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Jokowi unmoved by growing support for ‘noise’ blasphemy case woman

Meiliana, a Chinese-Indonesian woman of the Buddhist faith, who has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for complaining about the volume of the adzan (Islamic call to prayer) from a speaker at a mosque near her house in Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra. Image: Jakarta Post

By Christie Stefanie in Jakarta

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo says he respects the verdict handed down by an Indonesian local court against an ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail after being found guilty of blasphemy.

According to Widodo, if there are those who disagree with the verdict then Meiliana can lodge an appeal against the ruling by the Medan District Court

“Yes, an appeal process is available,” Widodo said after meeting with the Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) in Jakarta on Friday.

READ MORE: Woman jailed in Indonesia for complaining call to prayer is to loud

Speaking on behalf of the 44-year-old Meiliana, who wept in court after the sentencing, her legal attorney Ranto Sibarani said she would soon launch an appeal against the verdict.

Widodo said even as the head of the nation he was not above the law and was unable to intervene in the case.


This is because even he had recently been found guilty of negligence in a lawsuit over the burning of forests and land by the Palangkaraya High Court.

“I am unable to intervene in legal affairs that are related to the authority of the courts. I myself have only just been found guilty by a court in Palangkaraya over a [forest] fire,” said Widodo laughing.

President Widodo … found guilty by a court in Palangkaraya over a Kalimantan forest fire. Image: Jakarta Post

Forest fire case
The Palangkaraya High Court recently found Widodo guilty of violating the law in a West Kalimantan forest and land fire case.

The other defendants in the case included Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, Agricultural Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman, Agriculture and Land Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek, Central Kalimantan Governor Sugianto Sabran and the Central Kalimantan Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).

The defendants are currently preparing to submit an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Pacific Media Centre reports that the last few days have seen a massive outpouring of support for Meiliana, a Chinese-Indonesian woman of the Buddhist faith who was sentenced to 18 months for complaining about the volume of the adzan (Islamic call to prayer) from a speaker at a mosque near her house in Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra.

An online petition addressed to Widodo, which was launched on August 22 calling for Meiliana to be freed, has already been signed by more than 100,000 people.

The petition also requests that the panel of judges that sentenced Meiliana be reviewed and that the Ministry of Religious Affairs issue a regulation on the use of loudspeakers by mosques, which it has since done.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Tak Bisa Intervensi Hukum, Jokowi Sarankan Meiliana Banding”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesia risks ending up with a doomed ‘can’t-do’ climate plan

By Warief Djajanto Basorie

Three hundred schoolchildren from the greater Jakarta area sat on a red carpet covering the cavernous Soedjarwo auditorium—named to honour the country’s first forestry minister—at the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry in January this year.

They were there to participate in the government-led Climate Festival; the theme was “Three Years of Climate Change Achievements”.

Dr Nur Masripatin, the then Director General of Climate Change (she stepped down in February 2018), tossed the kids a question on climate change: what will become of Indonesia if nothing is done about climate change by 2030?

An elementary schoolboy said the country would become hotter and drier. Another two students added to his answer, talking about global warming and the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

The director-general beamed broadly. Dr Nur Masripatin, who has a PhD in forest biometrics from Canterbury University in New Zealand, has been a veteran negotiator for Indonesia at the annual United Nations climate conference since 2005.

Indonesia is a country of islands, with a majority of the population living along coasts vulnerable to climate change, she explained to the assembled pupils. The government hopes that such an event will equip children with information on climate change that they’ll carry into adulthood.


Reaching Indonesia’s targets
The event also sought to inform the public on the progress made in implementing international agreements and national policies, such as the Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contribution, related to climate change. Government projects such as this one are only deemed successful if the people meant to benefit from the project feel that they have a stake in the issue, and commit to seeing it through.

The Paris Agreement, reached at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015, is a legally binding international contract to limit global warming “well below” 2˚C, through lowering carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the degrading of forests. The ultimate aim is zero carbon emissions worldwide by 2050.

In undertaking to realise the Paris Agreement, Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, sets a target of cutting emissions by 29 percent against a “business as usual” scenario (in which no planned action is taken) and by 41 percent with international cooperation. This climate action plan is due to be implemented from 2020 to 2030.

One of the many documents handed out to participants of the Climate Festival was the country’s NDC Implementation Strategy, listing nine programmes with assigned activities spanning from ownership and commitment development to implementation and review. Also included was an academic paper on the draft government regulation for climate change.

The festival, and its accompanying books, talks, and handout material produced by the director general and her team, outlines an ambitious climate agenda. Yet what’s not covered is interesting, too.

While the NDC Implementation Strategy cites projected greenhouse gas emission levels, it does not provide details on whether, or how much, emissions have already been reduced since 2011, when the government issued its national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020. Nor does the NDC explain the formula it uses to reduce emissions in the five slated sectors: land-use, energy, IPPU (industrial processes and product use), agriculture and waste. The first two sectors alone produced 82 percent of the country’s carbon emissions in 2010–2012.

Despite its absence in the Climate Festival’s documents, information on emission reduction is provided by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas). From 2010–2017, Indonesia has cut greenhouse gas emission by only 13.46 percent. It’s a figure the Indonesian government aren’t eager to publicise—it’s a long way from their target. The government doesn’t officially state how much carbon emissions has been reduced because the NDC does not start until 2020, a government official explained.

“The government shall regularly provide emission reduction achievements in line with the NDC target it has committed to after Indonesia ratified the Paris Agreement. This is in line with our commitment to the NDC up to 2030. The information can be accessed in SIGN SMART prepared by the Environment and Forestry Ministry,” says Dr Agus Justianto, Head of the Ministry’s Agency for Research, Development and Innovation.

A major emitter of greenhouse gases
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Indonesia is the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the largest contributor of forest-based emissions—an unsurprising fact if one thinks back to the devastating forest and peat fires in 2014 and 2015. Images from the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released in 2014 and 2015 show dense smoke blanketing parts of the country and its neighbours. Those two years were exceptionally bad, but such burning takes place annually.

In September 2017, WRI Indonesia published a 36-page working paper on how Indonesia can achieve its climate change mitigation goal. The organisation found that existing policies in the land-use and energy sectors, even if fully implemented, are inadequate if the country is really serious about reaching the 29% target by 2030. Using its own methodology, WRI Indonesia estimated that the existing policies would only result in a 19% reduction.

A failure to achieve its mitigation target means that Indonesia won’t be able to contribute its declared share in global fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Rethinking policies
Reaching the NDC goal would require revisiting existing policies, particularly in agriculture and energy.

In agriculture, the government wants to double the output of the highly lucrative oil palm by 2020. This would require the clearing of more forest and peatland to add to the 14 million hectares of oil palm plantations already present in the country—a move that would surely lead to more carbon emissions. The policy also undermines a forest moratorium, in place since 2011, on the issuing of permits to convert primary forest and peatland to oil palm plantations, pulp and paper estates and other land-use change activities.

Dr Agus denies any planned clearing of peatland, insisting that the moratorium is still in place. What the government wants to increase, he stresses, is productivity per hectare on existing oil palm plantations.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo also has a plan to boost the country’s energy capacity by 35,000 megawatts during his current term, which comes to an end in 2019. Only 2000 megawatts of that energy will come from renewable energy; 20,000 megawatts will come from coal-fired plants, another major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Oil and gas, as well as hydropower, will provide the rest.

This matter of generating 20,000 megawatts of energy from coal-fired plants was put to Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister for National Development Planning and Head of Bappenas, at the Southeast Asia Symposium jointly organised by Oxford University and the University of Indonesia’s School of Environmental Science.

The “best solution”, advocated by environmentalists, would be to phase coal-fired plants out completely and embrace renewable energy sources. It’s in line with the call of the “Powering Past Coal” alliance, a partnership of over 20 governments who intend to move away from coal. No Southeast Asian government has joined the alliance thus far.

Brodjonegoro, a former dean of the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics, replied that Indonesia’s plan relies on the “second-best solution”: new coal-fired power plants will use clean coal technology, and that renewable energy, such as solar, wind or biomass, will be developed for isolated areas that are not yet part of the country’s power grid. Energy is required for economic growth, he argued, and Indonesia has abundant coal deposits to meet that energy need.

But Indonesia might not need as much energy as policymakers initially thought. According to the Electricity Supply Business Plan 2018-2027 drafted by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, a projection in Indonesia’s additional power needs dropped from 78 gigawatts under the 2017–2026 plan to 56 gigawatts in the 2018–2027 plan. The decrease was due to overestimating the growth in demand; if the government had followed through with the initial plan, it would end up overspending by building unused power plants.

Plans are also underway to increase the portion of renewable energy—while renewable energy only provided 12.52 percent of Indonesia’s energy in 2017, it’s expected to rise to 23 percent in 2025. Coal is expected to decline as a source of energy from 58.3 percent in 2017 to 54.4 percent in 2025. But environmental groups say it’s still not good enough.

“Many nations like India, China and even Saudi Arabia have altered their investment direction to renewable energy, whereas Indonesia still depends on coal for more than 50 percent of its power source,” said Hindun Mulaika, Greenpeace Indonesia’s climate and energy campaigner, in a recent press release.

Other organisations have called for more ambitious action from the Indonesian government. Germanwatch and Climate Action Network pointed out in their 2018 Climate Change Performance Index that Indonesia has the potential to further develop renewable energy, particularly since it has relatively large amounts of hydropower. WRI Indonesia recommended other mitigation actions, such as strengthening and extending the forest moratorium, restoring degraded forest and peatland, and implementing energy conservation efforts.

According to WRI Indonesia, increasing renewable sources in the energy mix will require implementing multiple policies, such as a carbon tax on fossil fuel power plants, the replacement of coal-fired plants with wind or solar sources, and the provision of subsidies for the promotion of renewable energy.

Indonesia already has bilateral and multilateral agreements for cooperation in climate change, such as an accord with Norway signed in 2010, where the Scandinavian country pledged up to USD1 billion for “significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland conversion”. The financial contribution is made based on a verified emissions reduction mechanism. However, an influential coal lobby makes it difficult for the country to take bolder steps away from coal power plants.

A target that cannot be achieved
As it stands, Indonesia’s 29 percent NDC target is not achievable, says a government technocrat.

“It is not based on what sectors knew, what the energy sector knew, what the road transport sector knew. No one has reliable data. Everyone has some sense of statistics,” says the technocrat, who has asked to remain anonymous as he’s not authorised to speak to the press.

The distinction between data and statistics is an important one—while statistics present a snapshot of one aspect of an issue, data is a real mapping of what exists, providing a more holistic picture. A good NDC should have reliable data from every sector, disaggregated to show the reality in each of Indonesia’s 465 sub-national districts and town governments. While there might be a political aspect to this process, politics should not be dominant, the official added.

“No one has reliable data. Everyone has some sense of statistics”

The lack of data is a big problem with a major impact on the way targets have been set. The government arrived at the 29% target via inter-sectoral meetings where each of the five mitigation sectors (energy, land-use, industry, agriculture, waste) stated how far they were willing to go in terms of reductions. But if the various groups only have “some sense of statistics” without actual reliable data, the targets set could easily be off the mark.

Hopes for a future generation
Indonesia’s climate future is not bleak; there’s still hope for significant progress moving forward. Beyond government policy and programmes, numerous civil society organisations are actively working on the issue.

One example is Climate Reality Indonesia, which had a booth at the Climate Festival. Its members, who have participated in Al Gore’s climate course, are from all walks of life: students, academics, public officials, business people, homemakers, journalists, artists, clerics. They’re committed to spreading climate awareness among their own circles to encourage a ripple effect that will increase public knowledge across the country.

“Climate change can be viewed from different angles: water, air, marine resources, forests, agriculture, energy, education, laws. Hence it’s important to break down the issue of interest to understand the ground sentiment,” says Amanda Katili Niode, manager of Climate Reality Indonesia.

There are signs that the public are interested. In 2015, a survey by the Pew Research Centre found that 63 percent of the country supported limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement. Climate Reality Indonesia is thus working on creating visual materials on specific climate change impacts and solutions to use in their outreach programmes.

Following Climate Change Director General Nur Masripatin’s session, Hidayatun Nisa, a 24-year-old university graduate, delivered a rousing speech before the assembled schoolchildren. She told them about her work as a facilitator in the Care of Peat Village project run by the Peat Restoration Agency in a village in Jambi province on the east coast of central Sumatra, calling on students to study how to protect the environment for a better future.

“I do hope the children can learn to be sensitive to living things and protect the environment where they live. This also applies to their parents as the educational process that has the greatest effect is the education at home,” says Nisa.

Without a change in gear for a more ambitious and robust emphasis on renewable energy and the safeguarding of the environment, Indonesia’s climate change ambitions could end up amounting to little more than a can’t-do plan. As it is, the current generation is already not on track to meet its own stipulated goals. If the country does not undertake a course correction soon, today’s Indonesian children will find themselves having to pick up the slack in the future.

Warief Djajanto Basorie is a contributor to New Naratif, an independent research and journalism publication. He has reported for the domestic KNI News Service in Jakarta 1971-1991 and concurrently was Indonesia correspondent for the Manila-based DEPTHnews Asia (DNA, 1974-1991). DNA is a feature service reporting on development in Asia for Asian media in English and the vernacular. This article is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

RSF plea to Indonesia to investigate reporter’s death in detention

A journalist has died while in Indonesian police custody after investigating land disputes linked to the palm oil industry. Image: Tempo – Adek Berry/AFP/RSF

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for an independent inquiry into the death in detention of Muhammad Yusuf, a reporter who was being held in South Kalimantan province, in the far south of the Indonesian part of Borneo, on a charge of defaming a local palm oil production company.

A series of irregularities surround Muhammad Yusuf’s death in the town of Kotabaru on June 10, nine weeks after his arrest because of his coverage of allegedly illegal land seizures linked to the activities of MSAM, a company that operates a huge oil palm plantation in the province, reports RSF.

Yusuf had become well-known for his reporting on the story, writing no fewer than 23 articles for two news websites, Kemajuan Rakyat and Berantas News, from November 2017 to March 2018.

Muhammad Yusuf’s death … “credibility of rule of law in Indonesia at stake,” says RSF. Image: RSF

He was arrested on April 5 as he was about to fly to Jakarta to meet with the National Commission on Human Rights.

After holding him for more than two months, the police say he was taken from prison to a hospital in Kotabaru on 10 June with chest pains, vomiting and breathing difficulties, and died soon after arrival as a result of a heart attack.

“We call on the Indonesian government and supreme court to guarantee a full and independent investigation and to deploy whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all possible light is shed on this journalist’s death,” said Daniel Bastard, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.


“The credibility of the rule of law in Indonesia is at stake because of the many doubts surrounding this case.

“What with his critical reporting, the appearance of collusion and a lack of transparency, there are many reasons for suspecting that Muhammad Yusuf died because of his journalistic work.”

Strong suspicions
Yusuf’s wife, Arvaidah, had requested his release three times on medical grounds because of concern about his state of health. After his death, she was denied access to the morgue and to the autopsy results. Convinced that his death was “not natural,” she has filed a complaint against the police and district attorney, who were jointly responsible for detention.

Many people question the independence of the police and district attorney’s office in this matter. South Kalimantan’s governor is the uncle of the wealthy businessman who owns MSAM, the company targeted by Yusuf’s reporting.

According to Tempo, a leading Indonesian news website, bruises on the back of Yusuf’s neck can be seen in a video of his body.

All these suspicions prompted the National Commission on Human Rights to announce last week that it was opening an investigation into his death.

Indonesia is ranked 124th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

The Pacific Media Centre is an associate of Reporters Without Borders in media freedom work.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Greenpeace blasts palm oil industry deforestation in West Papua

One of the massive deforestation areas in the PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession in Papua, Indonesia. Other images show a lunar-like devastation over huge areas. Image: Greenpeace International

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A palm oil supplier to Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever is destroying rainforests in the Indonesian-ruled Papua region, a new investigation by Greenpeace International has revealed.

Satellite analysis suggests that around 4000ha of rainforest were cleared in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017 – an area almost half the size of Paris.

The findings come as a delegation from the Indonesian government arrived in Europe last week to defend the palm oil industry, in response to moves by European Parliament to discourage the use of palm oil in biofuels on environmental grounds, Greenpeace International reports.

Luhut Panjaitan, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs of Indonesia, is visiting several European cities, including Brussels and Berlin.

“After destroying much of the rainforests of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the palm oil industry is now pushing into new frontiers like Papua, said Richard George, forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

“If the Indonesian government wants to defend this industry, the best thing it can do is to force it to clean up its act, not threaten to start a trade war.”


Photos and video taken in March and April 2018 show massive deforestation in PT MJR, a palm oil concession controlled by the Hayel Saeed Anam Group (HSA), including in an area zoned for protection by the Indonesian government in response to the devastating forest fires in 2015. Development is prohibited in these areas.

Supply chain
Although PT MJR is not yet producing palm oil, two other HSA subsidiary companies – Arma Group and Pacific Oils & Fats – supplied palm oil to Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever, according to supply chain information released by the brands earlier this year.

Each of these consumer companies has published a “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation” policy that should prohibit sourcing from rainforest destroyers.

“Brands have been talking about cleaning up their palm oil for over a decade. Companies like Unilever and Nestlé claim to be industry leaders,” said George.

“So why are they still buying from forest destroyers like the HSA group? What are their customers supposed to think? What will it take to get them to act?”

This case also raises serious questions for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Many HSA Group palm oil companies are members of the RSPO, although PT MJR and the other HSA Group concessions in this district are not.

Members of the RSPO are not allowed to have unaffiliated palm oil divisions, and the development witnessed in PT MJR would also violate several of the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria.

Sourced from a Greenpeace International media release.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Governor Juffa, police crack down on PNG’s Collingwood Bay illegal logging

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Governor Juffa, police crack down on PNG’s Collingwood Bay illegal logging

“When fully laden, a ship like this leaves Papua New Guinea shores every week with stolen forest resources. Shipped by transnational criminal cartels posing as developers. When filled, one of these shipments rakes in between K6 million and K7 million for the pirates … every week.,” writes Governor Juffa on Instagram. Image: Juffa/Instagram

By Scott Waide in Port Moresby

Over the course of the past month, Oro Governor Gary Juffa has been at the forefront of a crackdown on illegal loggers in Collingwood Bay of Oro Province.

The operation has gathered a lot of public support from people who have been subjected to various injustices, including company workers and landowners.

Up to 16 foreign workers have been arrested. Police have also impounded machines and other equipment.

READ MORE: Governor Gary Juffa speaks out against ‘criminal logging cartels’

“They were in fact quite relieved that we got to them,” Juffa said. “Apparently, they had not been paid.”

According to the Oro Governor, the Forest Minister cancelled permits to the operation.


However, the operation is still continuing with logs being shipped out of the province.

Theft of resources’
Juffa has also hit out at the PNG Forest Authority for its complacency:

“Our investigations reveal that PNGFA is negligent in its efforts and has been facilitating the theft of our forest resources for decades.

“It is complicit in the transnational crimes being committed and those who process the paperwork are in fact accomplices.

“PNGFA is, in fact, failing miserably, in its mandate and is in fact assisting transnational criminal cartels steal our forest resources. What is the point of an organisation we pay for with our taxes to serve transnational criminal cartels and sell us out?”

Collingwood Bay was one of the first areas marked as a Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL). Landowners protested and took the matter to court and won.

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