My name is Wiza, and I’m from Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. I’m working with local communities to protect the endangered forests of the Leuser Ecosystem as our survival and livelihoods depend on it.
But everything that I am fighting for could be lost if the new Indonesian President Joko Widodo does not reject a disastrous new land use plan that would drive destructive palm oil and pulp plantations, logging, mining, and poaching in my home province, Aceh. The fate of our people now rests in the hands of our President through his Minister of Home Affairs. I have traveled to the US because I urgently need your support in calling on the President to protect the Leuser Ecosystem by rejecting Aceh’s new spatial plan.
The most effective way for the global community to reach President Widodo is through social media. Will you take a moment to respectfully request President Widodo reject the Aceh spatial plan on his Facebook page? Please cut and paste the following message in Bahasa Indonesia:
Kepada Bapak Presiden Jokowi, dengan hormat kami meminta Bapak untuk berdiri di pihak rakyat dan membatalkan Qanun tata ruang Aceh. Masyarakat setempat bergantung pada Kawasan Ekosistem Leuser untuk air, pencegahan bencana dan mata pencaharian. Dunia juga bergantung pada daerah ini untuk menjaga stabilitas iklim. Mohon Pak Presiden, dengan pimpinan dan kewenangan Bapak, berpihak pada masyarakat dan membatalkan tata ruang Aceh. Media menyebut tata ruang Aceh sebagai “Bencana yang dapat dicegah”. http://a.ran.org/a16
You'll be leaving this message for the President:
Honorable President Widodo: I respectfully request that you stand for the people and reject the Aceh Spatial Plan. Local communities rely on the Leuser Ecosystem, for food, water and their livelihoods. The world community relies on this area to keep our climate stable. Indonesian media is calling the Aceh Spatial Plan “An entirely preventable disaster.” http://a.ran.org/a16 Please stand for people and reject the Aceh Spatial Plan.
In his first month in office, our President promised to put people before palm oil. He has committed to give our forests and land to the people, not to corporations. I need your help to hold the President to his words by rejecting Aceh’s new spatial plan.
If the spatial plan is not rejected, crucial protections of the Leuser Ecosystem will be removed and handed to corporations, spelling disaster for the climate, forests, local communities and the long term economic health and sustainability of the region.
At 6.5 million acres, the Leuser Ecosystem is a world unto itself—a rich landscape of intact tropical lowland rainforests, cloud draped mountains and steamy peat swamps. It is among the most biodiverse and ancient ecosystems ever documented by science, and most of this protected area is located in my home province of Aceh. Its forest landscapes provide a steady, clean water supply to millions of people.
We have been fighting for so long to protect the Leuser Ecosystem and all our work could be undone if the spatial plan is not rejected. It is urgent that the President hears from you now.
Please send a message to President Joko Widodo, asking him to listen to the needs of Aceh’s people by rejecting the new Aceh Spatial plan and to ensure that protections remain in place for the Leuser Ecosystem.
Semangat - keep the spirit,
Acehnese fighting for the Leuser Ecosystem
Indigenous Peoples + Territorial Rights = Living Forests! Hundreds of indigenous peoples and their allies to create a human banner parallel to the UN COP20 climate summit to demonstrate the importance of guaranteeing territorial rights in addressing climate change. ©Amazon Watch / Spectral Q — in Lima, Peru.
Political leaders from around the world and thousands of government officials, scientists and lobbyists are meeting this week in the Peruvian capital of Lima to discuss solutions for the global climate crisis. One of their priorities is the conservation of natural forests.
Forest ecosystems play an important role for the climate, water cycles and soil protection. Trees and soil store enormous amounts of carbon, and up to 20% of yearly greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation.
But not far away from the UN climate summit in Lima, just across the Andes in the Peruvian Amazon region – the green lung of Earth – thousands of hectares of rainforest are being cleared with chainsaws and bulldozers. And in this particular instance, Peruvian government and state officials prefer to close their eyes and ears and remain silent.
The real world: logged rainforest near the town of Tamshiyacu in the Peruvian Amazon region
According to Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo, two companies logged around 15,000 hectares of primary rainforest in recent months without an environmental impact assessment or permits for forest clearing or change of land use: around 13,000 hectares north of the town of Pucallpa in Ucayali, and about 2,000 hectares near Tamshiyacu in Loreto.
This is only the beginning. The same companies and others have applied for permits to log more than 106,000 hectares of mostly primary rainforest in the region of Loreto according to the newspaper El Comercio. Similar interests exist in Ucayali and San Martin. Their objectives: to cash in on timber and forest land and establish huge industrial palm oil and cacao monoculture plantations.
This is not only detrimental to nature and the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, it also comes at a tremendous economic cost to Peru. A study on the valuation of environmental goods and services lost by deforestation in Tamshiyacu and Nueva Requena determined that the economic losses for the next 30 years amounted to US $348,000,000. In addition to being responsible for this economic impact, the companies are also reportedly intruding on the properties of local peasant farmers.
The current developments in the Peruvian Amazon are the consequence of misguided policies, weak governance, inadequate laws and the decentralization of competence to the regional governments. In 2000, the Peruvian government declared the establishment of palm oil plantations to be of “national interest” in an effort to attract major investors. In January, the Agricultural Ministry announced that Peru has room for 600,000 hectares of palm oil plantations.
The newspaper El Comercio reported that state officials, including the president of Ucayali, had allegedly sold state-owned forest lands to one of the companies in an irregular manner. The case was transferred to the National Criminal Court in Lima in July.
Aerial view of the deforestation for palm oil in Ucayali
A variety of organizations and local citizens have filed charges against the companies for environmental crimes and the usurpation of private property. Several state prosecutors and courts in Loreto and Ucayali are investigating the cases. The investigations are extremely slow, however, and lack backing from public institutions.
In Loreto, the senior prosecutor for the environment in charge of investigating the deforestation in Tamshiyacu resigned in October. “Support for our prosecutor’s office is minimal, and without personal, administrative operators, we simply cannot do good work,” environmental prosecutor Manuel Medina told the press. “Everything has its limits. I have sent official letters to the Ministry of Justice asking for help, and I have had no response.”
In late October, the Peruvian Minister of Agriculture was called to inform before a congress committee on reported irregular logging and massive deforestation in Loreto (Tamshiyacu) and Ucayali on behalf of a private company to plant cacao and other products without prior environmental impact studies.
It is time for Peru’s president Ollanta Humala, the UN, and its member states to take action. The agreements and commitments made during the climate summit need to materialize, not only on paper, but also in the forests. A UN declaration on forests was signed during a previous UN climate conference in New York in September, and a forest partnership was established between Peru, Germany and Norway. The forests, and the people who depend on them, urgently need to see these promises put into action.
TV reports from Peruvian channel Panamericana:
- Deforestation without limits: forest devastation in Iquitos from the 10th of August, 2014
- Slash and burn in Ucayali: continued devastation of the Peruvian jungle from the 31st of August, 2014
A day for giving thanks followed by two days of commercialized holiday madness has passed. Together, let’s reject the corporatized holiday season and help us build the movement of generosity!
Here at RAN, we work hard day in and day out to fight climate change and protect rainforests and those that depend on them by challenging corporate power.
We hope you will join us this holiday season, and consider making a gift to Rainforest Action Network and support our work to ensure people and planet are placed over corporate profit.
Indonesian firm BW Plantation’s (BWPT) $900M share rights offering rife with concerns over labour rights, wildlife and deforestation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Laurel Sutherlin, 415.246.0161, Laurel@ran.org
Indonesian palm oil firm BW Plantation (BWPT) approved last week a USD $900 million share rights offering in a bid to finance its merger with Green Eagle Holdings (GEH). New stock not purchased by existing shareholders will be traded on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (IDX) from Monday December 8. Already lagging behind its competitors who have committed to zero deforestation policies, BWPT has failed to declare to investors the serious environmental, social and financial risks involved with deforesting and planting over its massive new land bank.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has published an in-depth backgrounder/briefing document titled Conflict Palm Oil Case Study PT BW Plantation (BWPT) $900 Million Stock Offer Warning: Investors Need Greater Disclosure of Environmental, Social and Legal Risks.
The deal expands BWPT's holdings from just under 100,000 ha to over 400,000 ha, making it Indonesia’s third largest palm oil company listed on the IDX. However, 75% of the new land bank - with holdings in Papua, Sulewesi, West, East and South Kalimantan and Sumatra - is unplanted and likely includes large tracts of primary forests, Indigenous and local community lands, and areas of carbon-rich peatlands.
Tom Picken of Rainforest Action Network said, “The last thing Indonesia needs is a near-billion dollar injection of cash that will simply fuel Conflict Palm Oil production. We encourage potential investors to steer clear of this controversial deal until BWPT discloses the true extent of risks, and publicly commits to no deforestation, no exploitation, and no peatland expansion across its entire operations.
Publicly available information on GEH plantations should raise alarm bells for investors. A basic review of available satellite data and local media reports indicates aggressive clearance of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since 2010, orangutans needing to be rescued from a Kalimantan concession two weeks ago, at least one case of serious labour rights violations this year in Papua, as well as a number of community conflicts.
Picken added, “BWPT is already failing to comply with its obligations under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) relating to new plantations. Adding the Green Eagle operations into the mix may seriously jeopardise BWPT’s eligibility to remain a member of RSPO at all, judging by the little information that is in the public domain highlighting numerous scandals in Green Eagle plantations.
“Aside from being a disaster in the making for the climate, local communities and the environment, this deal is a risky gamble for investors. That’s because this offering completely ignores the changing business climate. There has been a tide of deforestation-free commitments from major players in this arena recently, including BWPT’s two largest buyers of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) -- Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), which make up almost half of BWPT’s sales. Unless BWPT gets into line with these improved palm oil standards, then it will lose its biggest clients while investors could see their stock plunge.”
RAN briefing finds pending $900 million deal threatens forests, peatlands and communities across Indonesia.
Indonesian palm oil firm BW Plantation (BWPT) approved last week a USD $900 million share rights offering in a bid to finance its merger with Green Eagle Holdings (GEH). New stock not purchased by existing shareholders will be traded on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (IDX) from Monday December 8.
RAN released a briefing note, available here, on the controversial deal today, alerting investors to poorly disclosed Conflict Palm Oil risks.
The deal expands BWPT's holdings from just under 100,000 ha to over 400,000 ha, propelling it into the rank of Indonesia’s third largest palm oil company listed on the IDX. However, 75% of the new land bank - with holdings in Papua, Sulewesi, West, East and South Kalimantan and Sumatra - is unplanted and includes large tracts of rainforests, Indigenous and local community lands, and areas of carbon-rich peatlands.
Tom Picken, Senior Advisor for Forests and Finance campaign work at RAN, notes, “The last thing Indonesia needs is a near-billion dollar injection of cash that will simply fuel further Conflict Palm Oil production. We encourage potential investors to steer clear of this controversial deal until BWPT discloses the true extent of risks, and publicly commits to no deforestation, no exploitation, and no peatland expansion across its entire operations.”
The briefing finds evidence of aggressive clearance of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since 2010, orangutans needing to be rescued from a Kalimantan concession two weeks ago, at least one case of serious labour rights violations this year in Papua, as well as a number of community conflicts in the expanded holdings of the BWPT plantations group.
BWPT is already failing to comply with its obligations under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) relating to new plantations, much less meet the additional “no deforestation, no peatland expansion and no exploitation” criteria of its major customers.
Actions on the ground will tell the tale. For now, BWPT looks like the new bad boy on the block, making it an important target for intensified public scrutiny and accountability.
We stepped out of the car, and walked to the banks of what was once the rushing Sepingan river. What we saw, instead, was dry riverbed, filled with the trunks of small eucalyptus trees which had washed down the muddy cliffs in the recent rain. This was the river that once fed the rice fields of the people of Nagahulambo village, in North Sumatra. This was just one of the impacts of the destruction of a natural forest can have on the river, and on the people who depend on it. This is the impact the the pulp and paper company Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) is having in the beautiful Toba Lake region of North Sumatra.
I had come to North Sumatra to meet with our partners, Kelompok Studi dan Pengemangan Prakarsa Masyarakyat (KSPPM), who have been organizing with communities to fight TPL for over thirty years. At RAN, we've been partnering with KSPPM for the last year and a half, working to bring international pressure to support the rights of over 13 communities whose land and livelihoods have been destroyed for the pulp that finds its way into our clothes and paper. This was my first trip there, and – even after a decade of working to protect Indonesia's forests – I was shocked by the devastation of the forests, and by Toba Pulp Lestari's casual disregard for the rights of people who depend on the forest.
Our first stop – after a day long meeting with our NGO partner – was the TPL plantation. This was land that was traditionally owned by the Batak people of Nagahulambo and surrounding communities. They still practice traditional agriculture, harvesting the sap of the Aren palm (Arenga pinnata), which they ferment and sell as palm wine. This tree, which grows naturally in the region, is planted in between existing forest trees, and supplemented with coffee, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and other crops. It's a diverse polyculture that gives the community access to the cash economy through palm wine sales, and to food sovereignty through their farms and gardens.
Now, however, that diverse landscape is threatened with monocrop eucalyptus trees, as far as the eye can see. TPL's plantations are over 180,000 hectares, producing over 178,626 tons of pulp in 2012. As we drove through the plantation, we saw the logs of the natural forest piled high by the saw mill – huge trees being milled into railway ties and boards for houses. Even more shocking was seeing a traditional grave – sacred to the community, and once perhaps deep in the forest – in the middle of a clear cut, right next to the sawmill. This blatant disregard for traditional cultures and the rights of the local communities didn't come as a surprise; this is how TPL has been treating the people who depended upon the forest in the area for decades.
Our next stop was to meet with the community at Nagahulambo. When we went to the village, we were welcomed by farmers and palm wine gatherers who have lived there for generations. It's a small community – only 44 families – where almost all the men gather the sweet sap of the Aren palm to make palm wine. They took us to visit their Aren palm garden. It was only a 5 minute walk from their house, but from there we could already see the tops of the eucalyptus plantation towering not far away. They showed us how they gathered the sap – and I amused everyone by trying to climb their small bamboo ladders to the tops of the trees. I didn't make it very far. Back in the village we saw the turmeric, ginger, and coffee drying in the sun, ready to be processed by hand. Some will be sold, some will be used in the village.
Still, this community is very poor. This community used to make use of thousands of hectares, growing and gathering food and other resources. Now there is only 153 ha left of land that has not been converted into plantations. The community is fighting TPL to get rights to 350 ha of land, including the remaining forest, and TPL is fighting back. A few months ago, Jahotman Nainggolan, one of the community leaders, was arrested on trumped up charges and was put in jail for 3 months and one week, only recently being allowed to return to his wife and baby boy.
We sat down with ten leaders of the community. They had just received a letter from the local forestry department warning them that if they don't give up rights to the last remaining piece of forest, they were going to authorize TPL to “use repressive force”. Really. TPL is so powerful in the region that the government backs up even the most egregious land grabbing and violation of community rights.
Our partners, KSPPM, talked through the letter with the community, making plans to write a strong response, and warning the community members about what to do if and when TPL comes back to the village. The villagers were strong in their commitment to protect their land, while still being scared of what was to come with TPL. It was so inspiring to see their resistance, and to see how KSPPM supports them.
I explained briefly about RAN's campaign, and told them about the support that all of RAN's members had for their fight, and about how over 10,000 had signed a petition, and had taken action in US stores. They were very happy to hear that people on the other side of the world had heard about their struggles and were taking action to support them. At that moment, I was so grateful to you – our members – for taking action and standing up for the rights of communities all over the world. You provide such an important tool against companies like TPL. Instead of just the community of Nagahulambo, along with their partner, KSPPM, holding the line against the destruction of the forest, we are pushing back on them from both directions – the international marketplace and the front lines – and for that we are so much stronger.
Please join us in supporting the community of Nagahulambo. Our Out of Fashion campaign is holding companies responsible for sourcing from companies like TPL who are stealing the lands and the livelihoods of communities across the world. Please go to outoffashion.org to take action to today and join us in this important fight.
This #GivingTuesday, December 2nd, we want to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. We want to let as many people know that we need everyone’s support in fighting climate change and protecting the rainforests and all those who depend on them.
We want to shine a light on how consumerism, especially during the holiday season, is greatly contributing to the challenges our planet is facing. Whether it’s purchasing a holiday sweater that has contributed to rainforest destruction through rayon and other synthetic fabrics, or purchasing gifts that end up in landfills, we need to stop buying more stuff and start building awareness to create a more sustainable and just world.
So we’re calling on you, our network, to join us and get involved! Will you be our #GivingTuesday social media ambassador?
Donations are essential to continuing our critical work of protecting the world's remaining rainforests and changing the course of climate change by taking bold and immediate action. So, we need the full commitment of people like you to take social media by storm!
We’re asking you to tweet and post on Facebook about your true spirit of the holidays. Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #Give2RAN including why you support RAN’s work.
Below are some tools you can use to help us spread the word and grow the movement of generosity this #GivingTuesday!
That is what this post is all about. Simply: Thank You.
After seven long years of campaigning against Cargill -- the biggest privately held corporation in the US – we have seen a groundbreaking commitment from them along with a seismic shift in the palm oil sector to protect disappearing rainforests and to keep massive amounts of carbon in the ground and out of the atmosphere.
To mark this victory, our staff has compiled this photographic timeline of this wide-ranging campaign to keep Conflict Palm Oil out of our food and to protect our forests and the communities and wildlife that depend on them.
Of course, this fight is by no means over. But as the executive director of Rainforest Action Network, I want you to know that your support on this issue is directly responsible for this progress. Your support – from your emails, your signatures, your phone calls, your social media action and your donations to your presence at RAN nonviolent direct actions such as occupying Cargill headquarters, marching in the streets, and creating massive public demonstrations to bring the message directly to Cargill – has made this possible.
And as we enter into this season of gratitude and giving, everyone here at RAN would like to extend our deepest thanks to all of you for your support.
So, again: Thank You.
See a Photo Timeline of the Cargill Campaign.
Rainforest Action Network.