In the Media
Indonesia: Graft suspected in palm oil conversion
July 10, 2012
The Jakarta Post
Smoke rising from several spots scattered throughout more than 61,000 hectares of carbon-rich Tripa peat swamp forests in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, could be easily seen from a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft flying low above the area on Thursday last week.
Onboard the airplane were a number of top officials from agencies tasked with investigating a case involving palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, which was alleged to be responsible for the fires that have threatened the ecosystem of about 200 orangutans living in the area.
The case also caught the attention of the global community and has tainted the reputation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has only recently returned from the Rio +20 Summit where he touted his green initiatives, which include programs like a moratorium on deforestation.
A petition signed by concerned individuals from around the world, questioning the Indonesian government’s ability to halt the environmental destruction at Tripa, have prompted the authorities to take action.
Representatives from several NGOs, including the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Aceh Legal Aid Institute, the Leuser Ecosystem Management Body (BPKEL) and Wetlands International, have demanded the government shut down water canals in the area that were used by the company for irrigation to prevent further degradation of the peatland.
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Keywords: Aceh, Asia, deforestation, Indonesia, peat swamp, Tripa