Sumatra NGOs Beg for EU Mediation on Illegal Aceh Province Deforestation Plan


Photo Caption: Illegal forest destruction to make way for palm oil expansion inside the Leuser Ecosystem, Aceh: The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where tigers, rhinos, elephants and orang-utans all found living together in the wild and is currently being threatened by an illegal land use by-law being driven by the Aceh Provincial Parliament despite being protected by national law.

Credit: Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh (HAkA)

Non governmental organizations (NGOs), including my new friend Ian Singleton at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), and the courageous local WALHI coalition, are issuing an urgent plea to the European Union to help STOP deforestation in the precious Leuser Ecosystem on Indonesia’s Sumatra island.  Aceh’s Province greedy, corrupt new governor wants to jam a new — and ILLEGAL — spatial plan down the throat of Aceh that threatens all the remaining flora and fauna for plantation development.  Jezus, the greed, corruption and blatant disregard for the environment never ends in that parliament.

This is so important.  If we lose this, so much is lost — like some of the most biodiverse rainforest on the planet

PRESS RELEASE – Aceh Forest Coalition 13/03/2014 – For immediate distribution

Aceh NGOs call on the European Union to urgently mediate as conflict escalates over Aceh Parliament’s illegal land use plan

[JAKARTA] Deputy Chairman of the Aceh Parliament, Muhammad Tanwir Mahdi, has announced to local media that Aceh Parliament rejected the Ministry of Domestic Affairs’ official evaluation of the Aceh spatial plan by-law (Qanun RTRWA) 2014-2034.

The content of the Aceh spatial plan is highly controversial, and various sources have denounced it as legally invalid. “There are many unanswered legal issues that still surround the issuance of this spatial plan by-law”, Kurniawan, SH, LLM. a legal expert from the University of Syiah Kuala of Banda Aceh, told a full press conference in Jakarta today. “The content of the proposed spatial planning law fails to recognize higher regulations, in particular ‘The Law on Governing Aceh’ (UU 11/2006) and the National Spatial Planning Law, both of which mandate the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem. The current spatial plan is technically invalid and must be revised to have any credibility”,  Kurniawan, concluded.

“We welcome the evaluation that has been conducted by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs and are disappointed that Aceh Parliament has rejected this opportunity to improve the content of the law”, said Walhi Aceh (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) Chairman, Muhammad Nur. “In Aceh we suffer environmental and social problems because of the illegal land clearing from logging and palm oil that is already pushing our protected forests. The Aceh Parliament must recognize the environmental sensitivities of Aceh. Opening the protected forests causes flooding and landslides that create devastation for our people, which will only escalate with poor land use planning. We need a legally compliant spatial plan that includes the protection function of the Leuser Ecosystem. DPRA has failed to do this, and for this reason Walhi Aceh will be pushing a judicial review of the spatial plan on behalf of the community and environment of Aceh”.

“Aceh has been very fortunate to have the support of the world for many years” Said Farwiza, Chairperson of Forest Nature and Environment Aceh. “From 1992 to 2004 Aceh Government worked together with the EU on environmental and social development. We cannot forget the generosity of the world after we suffered the great losses of the 2004 tsunami, for this, I, as an Acehnese woman, will be forever grateful to the people of the world. There was a bitter 30 year civil conflict which ended with the MoU Helsinki, thanks to international facilitation. Aceh made great gains to rebuild thanks to a strong commitment to working together with the central government and international community, however, but now many in Aceh feel as if we have been forgotten, all of the gains we made together are now at risk if we can not urgently work together to find a solution to the rising social and environmental conflict that is now taking place.“


For further information please contact:

Kurniawan, SH, LLM Legal Academic, University of Syiah Kuala of Banda Aceh 085370903661

Muhammad Nur Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) Aceh Chairman, 08126970494

Farwiza Chairperson of Forest Nature and Environment Aceh 082162610756

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Ian Singleton

Here’s a photo of me (L) with my SOCP hero Ian Singleton, and Orangutan Outreach’s European representative Asli Han Gedik, taken this past January 2014 in the land that Ian hopes to turn into a haven for wildlife and education, including orangutans, outside the city of Medan, in Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia.


(c) 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

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