Globally oil palm plantations continue to expand at a rapid rate. World leader, Indonesia, has raced past Malaysia to become the number one producer. Latest data from the Indonesian watchdog NGO, SawitWatch, suggests that oil palm plantations in Indonesia now cover 11 million hectares, up from 6 million hectares only five years ago. New plantings are spreading to the smaller islands of the archipelago and to the less developed areas of eastern Indonesia. Hopes that a Presidential promise of a 2 year moratorium on forest clearance would slow the crop’s expansion – part of a deal to reduce green house gas emissions - have also evaporated as the government has excepted areas where preliminary permits have already been handed out.
Scale Up, an Indonesian partner of Forest Peoples Programme, has been monitoring the evolution of social conflict in Indonesian oil palm plantations over recent years. Studies on conflict over natural resources in Riau province conducted by this partner over the last four years have shown a trend towards an increase in frequency and extent of disputed land each year, with a slight decline in 2010. Based on Scale Up’s annual report of 2007, 111,745 hectares of land in the Riau area were subject to conflicting claims to natural resources, an area which increased to 200,586 hectares in 2008 and to 345,619 hectares in 2009. In 2010, the disputed land area decreased slightly to 342,571 hectares, compared to 2009. This was largely due to the fact that a large number of disputed areas and ensuing conflicts in that year were not identified or documented.
This request concerns the situation of the Malind and other indigenous peoples of the Merauke District, Papua Province, in the Republic of Indonesia. The Malind and others are presently experiencing and are threatened with additional and imminent irreparable harm due to the massive and non-consensual alienation and conversion of their ancestral lands and forests by the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate project (“MIFEE project”).
By: Rini Ramadhanti
In mid 2009, I started making regular visits to the village of Teluk Meranti to meet the women and talk about their current living conditions and the issues that affect them. Teluk Meranti is a village of about one thousand people next to the Kampar Peninsular, a peat swamp forest in Riau, on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. On my first visit we discussed women’s fears of losing their agricultural lands and forests, and their desire to further develop their gardens and small businesses. The women were concerned about a plan of the government and the pulp and paper company APRIL to create a pulpwood plantation covering 56,000 hectares and take over a forest that their community have managed for generations.
"More than 50 environmental organizations – European, international and Indonesian – sign statement in support of the NGO Terra!, targeted by the Italian paper company Cartiere Pigna." Read the full article on Go for Wood
Australia and Indonesia have been working together for several years now on REDD+. Their main cooperation is the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) which seeks to rehabilitate 100,000 hectares of peat swamp in Central Kalimantan. The area is part of Soeharto's Mega Rice scheme which failed to grow rice but reduced the agroforestry systems of dozens of Dayak communities to burning peat wastelands. Now, with millions of dollars already spent on the REDD+ project, Yayasan Petak Danum, a Dayak community organisation from the area of the KFCP project, wrote a letter listing major concerns with the project, especially its failure to respect the rights of the Dayak communities in the area. Read Yayasan Petak Danum (YPD) Network’s Letter to the Australian delegation to Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, February 2011, regarding the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership pilot REDD+ project:http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/redd-and-related-initiatives/publication/2011/letter-australian-delegation-central-kalimantan
A new oil palm plantation being developed in Indonesian Borneo (West Kalimantan) has relinquished community lands to which it had gained a government permit. The company PT Agro Wiratama, a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group, agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession back to the community, following interventions by community representatives and NGOs. This is a breakthrough in the context of a pattern of development whereby millions of hectares of large-scale oil palm plantations have been established without consent on indigenous peoples’ land. Forest Peoples Programme spotted PT Agro Wiratama’s plans to open up this area on the RSPO website and alerted NGO partners in Borneo, who were able to work with the community and help them negotiate with the company and local government to get their lands recognised.
In January the World Bank and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), released a substantially revised draft of their framework and strategy for engagement in the palm oil sector. The text, circulated for 30 days of public comment, is due to be submitted for approval - after revisions based on any comments received - to the President and Board of Directors in March or April 2011. If the text is approved, the World Bank will then end the worldwide funding moratorium for palm oil projects that it agreed to in 2009 after an internal audit (carried out in response to FPP and partners’ complaints) revealed major violations of due diligence and serious social and environmental impacts.
The controversial palm oil producing company, Sinar Mas, was in the news again as a long standing land dispute on one of its estate escalated into a police shooting in which 5 local community members were seriously injured. The conflict occurred in the province of Jambi on the island of Sumatra when unarmed local community members were attacked without warning by members of one of the mobile police brigades called in by the Sinar Mas-owned subsidiary, PT Kresna Duta Agroindo. The Sinar Mas group is Indonesia's largest palm oil conglomerate and has been blacklisted by some major US and European palm oil processors, owing to reports of repeated violations of social and environmental standards.
Working closely with partners in Indonesia, Forest Peoples Programme helped convene a global meeting of The Forests Dialogue about how to make sure that the right to ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)’ is respected in Indonesia. The four day field dialogue held in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, in October 2010, brought together over 80 participants from a great variety of backgrounds including indigenous peoples, representatives of local communities, non-governmental organisations, international financial institutions, government agencies and the private sector. The meeting was the first in a planned series of field dialogues which have the main aim of exploring how in practice government agencies, commercial enterprises and non-government organizations should respect the right of indigenous peoples and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent, as expressed through their own freely chosen representative organisations, to activities that may affect their rights.
Press alerts from Perkumpulan Hijau, CAPPA, and Yayasan SETARA:
The Jakarta Globe reported on Sunday, January 16, 2011, that six unarmed farmers had allegedly been shot whilst harvesting palm fruit on their own land in Jambi province, Indonesia. Read the full article on the Jakarta Globe website here.