Tripa Peat Swamp Press Release by WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia

23 March 2012 Tripa News

Issued by: WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia - Jakarta, 23 March 2012.

PT Kallista Alam scandal in Tripa highlights lack of transparency in revision of the Moratorium Map: promised investigation into suspicious changes not yet materialised.

In May, 2010Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent, in which Indonesia stated its intent to reduce emissions from forest and peatland conversions, including a 2-year moratorium on new concessions for converting peatlands and natural forests, while Norway would provide $1 billion to assist Indonesia with establishing REDD projects. The 2-year moratorium was established through Presidential Instruction 10/2011, and the first revision of the “Moratorium on New Permits” Map was issued by the Indonesian Minister of Forestry at the end of November, 2011. The map shows the areas of primary forest (in green) and peat lands (in pink) that are effectively off limits and protected from any new exploitation permits.

In the new revised version of the map, an area in the Tripa peat swamps on the west coast of Aceh, shown as protected peat land in the first edition of the map issued in May, had been mysteriously removed from the areas under protection (see map). Coincidentally, just a few days earlier, the Aceh branch of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia had launched a court case in Aceh against the Governor of Aceh and oil palm company PT Kallista Alam, requesting the cancelling of the Governor’s permit issued to Kallista Alam, to convert this very same area of forest on deep peat land to an oil palm plantation. The permit was issued on the 25th of August, 2011, three months AFTER the first edition of the map clearly outlined the area as protected and off limits to any new exploitation permits.

The illegal concession was a major issue for the Indonesian delegation at the UNCCC in Durban, South Africa, with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the President’s own special task force of reducing carbon emissions, explaining:


"While we recognise the need for the palm oil industry to also grow, signing an agreement with a palm oil company to allow the conversion of protected peat land into palm oil plantations, very clearly breaks the moratorium."


Norway's Ambassador to Indonesia, Eivind Homme, told Reuters he was surprised by news of the breach and called on the national government to investigate. 


Ambassador Homme, recently told Aftenposten, one of the largest newspapers in Norway, the Indonesian government has not yet reached the bottom of the matter. “ (we were told.. ed) that areas that were already in use for agriculture, or where there are settlements, are now exempt from the moratorium." 

The area of the new concession in Tripa being challenged, has always clearly been forested peat land, except for a part at its northern end which was drained and cleared by PT Kallista Alam in 2010, one year before their “permit” was issued. Clearly the Norwegian Ambassador has not been told the whole truth.

Ambassador Homme also said: "Indonesian authorities are still investigating this matter and we await their conclusion. The moratorium is one of Indonesia's chosen tools for reducing deforestation, therefore, any violation of the moratorium is serious. We expect that the moratorium be followed up and violations of it be prosecuted," he said.

Riswan Zein, who lectures on mapping and land use planning at the Forestry Department of the University of North Sumatra, made his own enquiries. “I spoke with several of the staff of the PIPIB working group who revised the Moratorium map, about the removal of the that new concession area in the revised version of the map issued in November 2011. They told me that all the changes in the map, including the supposed Kallista Alam area in Tripa, were made at the lobbying of companies. In the case of the contested Kallista Alam concession, staff from the National Land Agency (BPN) appeared with a map of the new concession and told the mapping staff to remove it from the Moratorium map. There was no other information provided, no data on a permit number, when it was mapped, or when it was issued....nothing!”

According to Riswan, this was confirmed by Arif Darmawan (of UKP4), and Wahyunto and Kusumo  Nugroho (of BBSDLP) at the 2nd Asian Forum on Carbon Updates held in Bandung in February 2012, where they told the Forum that 44 different companies, (including PT Kallista Alam) had lobbied for areas to be removed from the map. As the Kallista Alam area was neither already under agricultural use, or an existing settlement, this was clearly not consistent with the reason given to Norwegian Ambassador Homme, and passed on by him the press.

This case is one small example that highlights an obvious lack of transparency in the development of the moratorium map which is ironically supposed to demonstrate the seriousness of Indonesia’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions from forest and peatland conversion. This lack of transparency seriously damages the credibility of the Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions from deforestation, and to the principles of transparency and good governance.

While we applaud the fact that the Moratorium Map is a publicly available document, we and all our civil society partners demand that every revision of the Map is also publicly documented with verifiable data on who proposed any changes, when, and on what basis. Otherwise we are being asked to blindly trust in the Ministry of Forestry and the National Land Agency, two agencies with a long track record of dubious behaviour. Until this information is made public, any revisions to the map will continue to be greeted with scepticism both by civil society in Indonesia and the wider international community.

Today, as the legal action brought by WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia against the Governor and PT Kallista Alam comes to a climax, with the judge’s ruling expected on 3rd April, there is no evidence that any investigation has been carried out.


For further information please contact:

Muhammad Teguh Surya
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia - WALHI
Jl. Tegal Parang Utara No. 14 Jakarta Selatan12790
Telp/ fax : 021-79193363/ 7941673
Mobile phone: +62 8118204362

website :


Riswan Zein
University of North Sumatra
Mobile phone: +62 8126553591

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