Elephant Corridor Has Been Cleared by Indonesian State Company Despite Moratorium on Palm Oil by President

Aerial view of lowland rainforests corridor for Sumatran Elephants that is threatened by palm oil expansion
Aerial view of lowland rainforests corridor for Sumatran Elephants that is threatened by palm oil expansion

GPS: 4° 31′ 9.792″ N, 97° 45′ 9.234″ E

New satellite data obtained by RAN has revealed that a month after President Jokowi announced a three-year moratorium on the issuance of palm oil permits, as well as a review of existing permits, the Indonesian government-linked palm oil company PT Perkebunan Nusantara I (PTPN I) has continued to clear forests within an important corridor for the endangered Sumatran elephant inside the Leuser Ecosystem. PTPN I is operating in breach of the moratorium on forest destruction in the Leuser Ecosystem and should be subject to an investigation by the Indonesian Ministry of  Environment and Forestry.

October 2018 satellite analysis showing forest clearance activity inside PTPN I Blang Tualang’s palm oil concessions within the Leuser Ecosystem
October 2018 satellite analysis showing forest clearance activity inside PTPN I Blang Tualang’s palm oil concessions within the Leuser Ecosystem

RAN’s satellite investigation has found that new land clearing activity took place in PTPN I Blang Tualang, a plantation under the management of PTPN I that has been repeatedly exposed for clearing lowland rainforests inside the Leuser Ecosystem. PTPN I is one of the subsidiaries of the Indonesian governments state-owned plantation holding companies that manages palm oil and rubber business. PTPN I has palm oil plantations and palm oil and rubber mills spread across the Indonesian province of Aceh.

Satellite image show forest cover in PTPN I has been reduced from 405 ha in January 2018 to 386 ha at the end of October 2018 for the establishment of new oil palm plantings.
Satellite image show forest cover in PTPN I has been reduced from 405 ha in January 2018 to 386 ha at the end of October 2018 for the establishment of new oil palm plantings.

Over recent years, the Indonesian government has taken significant steps to tackle the ongoing deforestation and the intentional burning of forests for palm oil development. The 3-year moratorium on new palm oil permits, and the review of the existing palm oil operations has the potential to deliver real outcomes for Indonesia’s last intact rainforests, but only if fully enforced. It also has the potential to assist palm oil companies in achieving compliance with Indonesian laws and regulations––a rarity amongst the current industry actors –– or revoke permits from bad actors that refused to halt their bulldozers. As a matter of urgency, immediate action needs to be taken to enforce the palm oil moratorium and deliver long term protection for the lowland forests of the Leuser Ecosystem.