Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry Dr Siti Nurbaya has asserted that PT MPK, the permit holder of a logging concession dominated by the habitat of the Bornean orangutan, has committed peat violations by constructing new canals.
This logging concession, located in Ketapang regency, West Kalimantan province, covers an area roughly 70% of the size of Singapore.
“I have already ordered an end to PT MPK’s operations due to its peat violations. We are currently investigating this case,” Siti Nurbaya confirmed (Mar 20) at the ministry building.
While PT MPK did explain to the ministry that the construction of new canals has been ended, heavy machinery still exists at the concession location to neaten those canals that have already been developed.
The following Google Earth images depict land cover changes from 2014 to 2016 within the boundary of the PT MPK concession (delineated in yellow).
The minister left no doubt about her seriousness in this matter. “The instruction from the President, which is crystal clear and has been conveyed repeatedly, states that there is absolutely no room for compromise from the Jokowi administration when it comes to acting against anyone associated with peat violations.”
Minister Siti Nurbaya also declared that a report on the findings of a field investigation and a legal analysis will determine the prospects for PT MPK’s future operations.
The minister was in no mood for leniency. “The construction of new canals, or any new peat development, including in the PT MPK concession, for any reason whatsoever is strictly prohibited. This is indisputable.”
The tenacious Environment and Forestry Minister was not finished there, as she also shed light on the ongoing exploitation of peatlands in the logging concession by third parties.
“The PT MPK case needs to be looked at in a comprehensive manner, including by taking into consideration the habitat of the orangutan in this logging concession,” she stressed.
No defence of peat violators
Bearing in mind the widespread distribution of peat domes in the PT MPK concession, Minister Siti Nurbaya stated that a technically-based evaluation will be performed on the models and solutions for the operations of this logging concession.
As to new peat development, whether it involves peat domes or simply peatlands, the minister gave no ground, expressing that such development is outlawed in both cases and will be subject to legal action. “Severe sanctions await any companies that commit peat violations, and PT MPK is no exception.”
The Environment and Forestry Minister said that while Indonesia obviously needs increased investment, it doesn’t want investments which destroy Indonesian peatlands.
In closing, Minister Siti Nurbaya reiterated the no-compromise position adopted by Indonesia’s President. “The Jokowi administration is not going to defend investments from those carrying out peat violations. We all need to have an in-depth understanding of this.”