RELEASE: Issuing Licence for Plantation in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest Area

Source : Mailist – November 23, 2011

Press Release, 2011 November 23

Issuing Licence for Plantation in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest area;
Coalition Team for the Rehabilitation ofTripa (TKPRT) file lawsuit against Aceh Governor at the State Administrative Court

Banda Aceh – TKPRT and the Forum for Sumatran Spatial Plan (For Trust) filed on Wednesday (23/3) a lawsuit against the Governor of Aceh at the State Administrative Court of Aceh Province. The lawsuit was filed following a legal warning sent by TKPRT previously, which was ignored by the Governor. TKPRT believes that the Governor has violated existing laws by issuing the Licence No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 on August 25th, 2011 on License on Plantation Operation to PT KallistaALam in the village of PuloKruet, Sub district of DarulMakmur, District of Nagan Raya in the Province of Aceh covering an area of 1,605ha.

WALHI Aceh, representing the TKPRT, submitted the lawsuit documents with a team of lawyers consisting of Syafruddin, SH, Jehalim Bangun, SH, and Nurul Ikhsan, SH. WALHI Aceh as the plaintiff submitted the lawsuit using the mechanism of Legal Standing, which is the right and the interest of the plaintiff as an environmental NGO, as it is regulated under the Law No, 23/1997 on Protection and Management of the Environment.

Within the lawsuit, WALHI Aceh mentioned that the 1,605ha of area stated to be located in the village of PuloKruet according to the Governor’s Decree does not lie within the administrative area of PuloKruet but clearly within the Leuser Ecosystem of Aceh Province. The Leuser Ecosystem is a National Strategic Area based on the Presidential Decree No 26/2008 on National Spatial Planning.

TKPRT has from the beginning conducted analysis on the negative impacts towards the environment caused by the clearing of the Tripa Peat Swamp. The Governor of Aceh as the Head of Aceh’s Government has in fact not taken any necessary measures to anticipate the damaging impact to the environment by not having made any Environmental Impact Analysis prior to the issuance of the license.This shows that the Governor as a State Official has conducted himself in contradiction to his legal responsibility and ignoring the principles of good governance.

The impact of the release of the license to PT KallistaAlam in the Tripa Peat Swamp causes environmental damage such as the loss of source of income of the local community around Tripa Peat Swamp, the loss of the habitat of critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and other protected animals, indigenous catfish and other kinds of swamp fish, which are the source of protein and income for the local community of Tripa.

Besides Sumatran orangutan, other primates also exist in Tripa such as siamang, wau-wau and kedih. Other endangered species in the area include the Sumatran tiger, sun bear, estuarine crocodiles, pythons and a variety of endangered swamp birds such asCiconiastormi and Cairinascutulata. The vegetation and plants in Tripa has a diversify composition like other swamp areas in Sumatra (Laumonier, 1997).

Besides the biodiversity value, Tripa Peat Swamp has also ecological function that is very important for the surrounding community. Peatlands play an important hydrological role, since they are natural water reservoir of enormous capacity. If not disturbed, peatlands can reserve from 0.8 to 0.9 m3/m3 (Murdiyarso et al, 2004).

Therefore, Tripa Peat Swamp plays important role in regulating ground water and rainfall cycles. Tripa is also important to local community for being a strong buffer zone protecting from tsunami of Aceh in December 2004. This is clearly identified based on the minimum of damage that occurred just behind Tripa Peat Swamp Forest area, which is well protected and undestroyed.

The TKPRT values that the Governor’s act or the defendant exceed his authority as Head of Provincial Government by issuing the license for PT KalistaALam in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest area and also that the defendant violates the existing laws, i.e. Law No. 5/1990 on the Conservation of Biodiversity and its ecosystems, the Law No. 5/1994 on the UN Convention on Biodiversity, Law No 6 on the Government’s ratification on the UN Convention on Climate Change as well as other existing environmental laws.
TKPRT as the plaintiff requests the judge of the State Administrative Court to suspend the implementation of the Governor Decree No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 dated on August 25th, 2011 on the Plantation Operation and to temporarily halt all activities related to the license issued by the Governor of Aceh until there is a certain legal verdict.
Within the core of the lawsuit, TKPR requested the State Administrative Court to cancel or to declare the license to PT KalistaAlam of August 25th, 2011 as illegal and the court to order the defendant to withdraw the Decree No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 on the Plantation Operation License for PT KalistaAlam dated on Aust 25th, 2011.
TKPRT hopes for support from the community to win the lawsuit. The winning of this lawsuit will be the community’s victory over their rights to managed the natural resources.

Banda Aceh, 2011 November 23
TKPRT and For Trust
Signed for and on behalf of

Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar
Direktur Eksekutif WALHI Aceh

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