Tag Archives: environmental devastation

JUBI: Saifi Community Rejects Palm Oil Plantation in Sorong Selatan Regency

Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council, Simson Sremere (Jubi)
Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council, Simson Sremere (Jubi)

from our partners at Tabloid Jubi’s West Papua Daily

14 September 2014

Sorong, Jubi – Residents in Salfi Sub-district of Sorong South Regency  rejected the local government’s plan to invite a palm oil plantation company to their area, said Customary Council community leaders.

“We absolutely reject it, because it would affect to the sustainability of our dense forest,” the Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council Simson Sremere said. He further said the palm oil plantation would threat and damage the forest sustainability in their customary area.

“In addition, the deforestation for the palm oil plantation could threaten the habitat of various animals in our forest,” he said.

The presence of a palm oil company could have an adverse effect on the local economy and marginalise the local community as the company would  tend to hire  migrant employees.

Meanwhile, a youth leader from Sayal Vilalge, Maikel Ajamsaru asked the South Sorong  Government to decline the MoU with the major investment companies who threat the ecosystem within other regions in South Sorong Regency.  “Local government must review some agreements with the future investment companies,”  Ajamsaru said. (Nees Makuba/rom)

Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

From our partners at AwasMifee

Between 4th-7th November 2014, representatives of indigenous communities, environmentalists and human rights defenders from every corner of West Papua met in Jayapura to discuss problems linked to the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, which in recent years have been expanding rapidly throughout the island.

This was an important meeting, as the difficulties and expense of travel around Papua means that communities are frequently isolated to face the companies alone, even though the problems they face are remarkably similar.

With many more plantation companies set to start operations within the next few years, and timber companies still keen to harvest high-value logs, it is also vital to share the (often bitter) experiences of communities which have already seen how these industries operate, and also to formulate some common platform of demands with which to confront government and policy makers.

Participants at the event heard about the long-term injustices connected with plantations in Jayapura, Keerom and Boven Digoel, where land was taken with military backing during the Suharto dictatorship causing problems which are still not resolved. In Papua’s deep south, participants told of how they have been marginalised by plantations connected to the MIFEE agribusiness development. Others from Sorong, Nabire and Mimika, told of how they were unprepared for the problems which started unfolding as the companies moved in. Delegates from Bintuni and Wondama Bays explained how the effects of the timber industry on communities are no less destructive.

In many of these cases, the same problems could be seen to emerge time and time again: intimidation from military and police officers supporting the companies, loss of livelihood as the forest is destroyed, companies’ broken promises to bring development to communities, environmental problems such as pollution, flooding and loss of water sources. Taking all this into account, the participants agreed to call on all agencies involved in allowing these industries to address these problems.

Top of the list was a call for a 10 year moratorium into for large-scale plantation and forestry investment, during which time part violations should be resolved, and the challenge of finding a way that these industries could exist on indigenous land without disadvantaging indigenous people. Hopefully we will translate some of the testimony on this site soon, in the meantime here is the full list of recommendations:

Organisations involved in organising the event were: Yaysan Pusaka, Greenpeace Papua, SKP Jayapura, Jerat Papua, Foker LSM Papua and Jasoil Papua. A copy of this declaration in Indonesian together with a list of participants can be found at: http://pusaka.or.id/demo/assets/REKOMENDASI-TEMU-RAKYAT-ADAT-KORBAN-PAPUA-Nov-2014.pdf

RECOMMENDATIONS

Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development

Today, Friday the seventh of November two thousand and fourteen, in the Maranatha Convent, Waena, Jayapura,

After hearing and discussing Reports of Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries from throughout the land of Papua, and also discussing various developments in development policy, we as representatives of indigenous communities from twelve Regencies or cities throughout the land of Papua, want to hereby make clear that the state has violated and ignored our human rights, by not protecting, respecting and advancing the rights of indigenous communities throughout the land of Papua, including: acts of discrimination, repression and expropriation of what rightfully belongs to indigenous people throughout Papua. These human rights violations, which have occurred between 1982 and 2014, have caused great loss for indigenous people, as their social and cultural fabric and their natural environment disappear. Because of this, we as representatives of indigenous people who have suffered because of the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, coming from twelve regencies and cities, hereby state the following:

1. To the President of the Republic of Indonesia, to issue a ten-year moratorium on forestry and large-scale plantation development throughout the land of Papua. During the moratorium period, the government would resolve the different problems and violations of indigenous communities’ rights that have already occurred, and amend policies and legislation currently in force in the land of Papua.

2. To the Governors of Papua and West Papua Provinces, to reconsider all policies concerning the granting of permits for the forestry and large-scale plantation industries which disadvantage indigenous people across the land of Papua.

3 To the Commander of Military District XVII Cenderawasih Command and the Papuan Police Chief, to discipline and take action against any members of the military and police forces who openly participate in pressurising and intimidating indigenous people that wish to defend their rights throughout the land of Papua. Also to take action against members of the forces who are either directly engaged in illegal business involving forest products, or back-up and protect others in such businessses.

4. To Bupatis and city mayors throughout the land of Papua, to end the practice of unconditionally giving out permits and recommendations in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

5 To the honourable members of the Papuan and West Papua People’s Assemblies (MRP), to hold a Special Dialogue with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry, concerning making changes in policy and regulations related to forestry and large-scale plantation investment in the land of Papua, both ongoing and in the future, which would be based on indigenous peoples’ rights and the spirit of Papuan Special Autonomy.

6 To the Provincial Legislative Councils in Papua and West Papua, to form a Special Committee to conduct investigations into the violations of indigenous communities’ human rights in the land of Papua, which are a result of policies and investment activities in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

7 To Customary Tribal Councils throughout the land of Papua, to organise reconciliation and customary assemblies in each area to map the customary lands of each tribe/ethnic group and follow up the findings of this Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

8 http://pusaka.or.id/demo/assets/REKOMENDASI-TEMU-RAKYAT-ADAT-KORBAN-PAPUA-Nov-2014.pdf, to take an active role in reporting violations in human rights and environmental problems so they can be brought to the attention of wider society and institutions that are actively attempting to protect, respect and advance human rights at the Papuan, national and international levels.

9. Participants of the Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries – Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development hereby declare the foundation of the Indigenous People’s Environmental Council in the Land of Papua (Dewan Lingkungan Masyarakat Adat di Tanah Papua).

These are the recommendations which have been made and agreed together, and we hope they will be heeded and implemented. May our ancestors and the Creator be with us all.

Thanks to MIFEE, 3.6% of Indonesia’s Emissions produced in Merauke

From Bintang Papua via awasMifee

Published: September 13, 2014

The Merauke Regency is experiencing a rapid rate of forest degradation and loss. This is illustrated by Merauke Regency’s contribution to total emissons1 in the province of Papua which is 45.29%. Merauke’s contribution to Indonesia’s national emissions is 3.6%.

Tangke Mangi, who is the Merauke Bupati’s Expert Staff for Economy and Finance, said that a high emissions rate resulted from forest degradation and loss in Merauke. The extent of forest cover in Merauke Regency is 2.12 million hectares, compared with 22.25 million hectares of forest cover and 3.084 million hectares of scrubland in Papua [province] as a whole.

“Merauke Regency as part of Indonesia, has already been assigned as an area for low-carbon development in Papua Province. So we have to swiftly follow up this initiative by compiling a Regency-level Strategic Action Plan (SRAK), he said in a workshop presenting the idea of the SRAK in Cafe Bellafiesta yesterday.

It has been mentioned that Merauke’s emissions are a result of forest degradation and loss, which means they are caused by exploitation on the part of several corporate investors that are involved in the MIFEE program.

“We can understand that this is happening because of the MIFEE program, so we need to balance it with the right mitigation actions. That way there can be a balance between economic development and environmental conservation”, he said.

He made it clear that several actions that are already taking place can be synchronised with a mitigation program such as participative mapping of important places for indigenous communities, as is outlined in Merauke Regency’s land-use plan (RTRW) “The people need to be give space and places so they can take care of their sacred sites as well as the important places which are sources of the indigenous community’s everyday livelihood needs”, he added.

Additionally the national commitment to reduce emissions by 41 percent is supported by Papua province which has been putting together a strategic action plan for the whole province. This will then be implemented by all development sectors in Papua, creating three zones of green economy and low-carbon development.

Source: Bintang Papua http://bintangpapua.com/index.php/lain-lain/papua/papua-selatan/item/17014-kabupaten-merauke-penyumbang-emisi-terbesar-di-papua

Controversy of Environmental Permit Mechanism that Sidelines Community Participation

From awasMifee

Published: September 8, 2014

On 16th August 2014, the Cenderawasih Pos newspaper displayed a notice from the Papuan Provincial Environmental Management Agency (BPLH), taking up about 10 x 20 cm of one column. It informed the papers’ readers about the Merauke Bupati (elected regency leader)’s decision (number 133/2014) which concerned an environmental permit for a timber enterprise on PT Wahana Samudera Sentosa (WSS)’s 79,006 hectare industrial forestry concession in Ngguti and Okaba districts, Merauke Regency.

The community were asked to give their suggestions, opinions and responses to this environmental permit in writing to the head of the BPLH in Papua, within a time limit of five working days from when the notice was published (12 -18 August 2014).

The government issues these environmental permits as a prerequisite that those wishing to initiate new developments must meet in order to obtain their permit to operate, and it is concerned with protecting and managing the environment. According to Government Regulation 27/2012 concerning Environmental Permits, each enterprise and/or project which needs an Environmental Impact Assessment (Amdal) or Environmental Management and Monitoring Plans (UKL-UPL), is obliged to obtain an Environmental Permit. The process consists of three stages: a) compiling the Amdal and UKL-UPL, b) evaluating the Amdal and examining the UKL-UPL, and c) requesting and being issued an environmental permit (cf. Article 2 of the regulation 27/2012)

In the case of PT WSS’s Environmental Permit (and this is also the case in general for companies operating in Papua), the government and developers have been seen to go through the steps required to obtain their environmental permit, seemingly just so they can meet the requirements of the procedure laid out in Government Regulation 27/2012. The substance of their research into the significant impacts of proposed business plans tends to lack attention to detail, as it is just based on a cursory academic study. The knowledge and participation of affected communities is ignored and tends to be pushed aside.

Diminishing the participation of indigenous communities and marginalising their indigenous knowledge takes place at each stage, from when the Amdal and UKL-UPL are compiled, through the evaluation and examination, right up to the moment the permit is issued. For example, during the Amdal compilation stage, the government provides for community participation through 1) publishing a plan of work and 2) public consultation, where the community has the right to give suggestions, opinions and responses to the plans during a period of 10 days from the announcement, which they must communicate in writing to the developer, minister, governor, bupati or mayor.

The mechanism of giving notice which relies on the media as explained above, is a way of reducing the the indigenous peoples of the interior of Papua’s opportunities for participation. The reason is they have very limited access to news media such as the Cenderawasih Pos, and do not have the luxury of radios and televisions, they do not even have electricity. How could it be possible for them to receive the notice and participate in the plans?

Establishing a time limit of ten days for suggestions and opinons could also prove difficult for Papuan indigenous people who learn from their experience and build up their knowledge over many years. Whether an individual, or the wider community, they need a long time, to read, study, understand, consult and discuss, before giving a response or opinion to any proposed development they have just heard about.

In this way, the time limit also limits the chances for local indigenous people to find out about the plans and participate in developing plans. Especially if government and developers do not provide independent and professional workers who can help the community study the development documents.

The next way in which the community are pushed out of the process is in the Amdal consultations, which only involves a few representatives of the communities and takes place in a hotel in the regency or provincial capital. In the Malind people’s social system, discussions about how to make use of the land on a wider scale have to take place collectively between communities from the four directions of the wind, from the Kondo to the Digoel rivers. Such a meeting should take place on the land itself, not in an air-conditioned meeting room with ceramic floors.

The community is forcibly introduced to the knowledge of how environmental impacts are evaluated and a new mechanism of taking decisions which is beyond their grasp. Community participation becomes merely procedural and follows the developers’ wishes. The way this process of participation and decision-making is steered off course is a clear illustration of discrimination against indigenous social systems and the limits to Papuan indigenous people’s civil and political rights.

Existing mechanisms and institutions for awarding environmental permits are not appropriate in the land of Papua. It is highly necessary to develop  mechanisms and institutions for giving permits which prioritised the authority and indigenous rights of local communities, as well as principles of justice.

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/kontroversi-mekanisme-izin-lingkungan-menggembosi-partisipasi-masyarakat/

How Papua’s Green Areas are Increasingly being Destroyed

 

By Fr Santon Tekege

A portrait of oil palm companies in Wami & Sima Villages in Nabire)

Translation by AwasMifee

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Throughout the Land of Papua, forest is being destroyed ever faster to feed the interests and profits of companies and provincial and local governments. Papua’s forests are becoming a target for investors from around the world, who treat the forest as if it were there merely to satisfy their personal desires. So Papua’s forest is being replaced with oil palm. The Papuan forest with all its diverse flora and fauna becomes a tasty snack for feudal overlords and the Indonesian Government. The provincial and local governments, without telling the people who live there, allow all kinds of companies to start operations in the land of Papua. This is why it is vital that such companies cannot just move in, including oil palm companies such as the one which is planning a plantation in Nabire Regency.

The companies must be rejected so that indigenous Papuans’ relationship with their local environment is not obstructed or severed. This means it is important that the government and all other concerned parties, including the church, pay attention to the increasing rate of forest destruction in the Land of Papua.

Papuans and their Forest

Papuans, as gatherers and forest gardeners, make use of nature’s riches as their source of livelihood. Whether they live near the coast or in the mountains, they find food directly in nature, such as sago, sweet potatoes, fish, animals to hunt like deer, kangaroo, wild pig or cuscus, and different kinds of vegetables. This situation is slowly changing. however – as more and more forest is felled, so Papuans find it harder to find sago and animals to hunt.

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In general Papuans have a strong connection with their natural environment. Everything that can be found in the forest is seen as an integral part of human life. Forest is seen as the home of the ancestors. When the forest is destroyed, cracks appear in ths co-existance between the Papuan people and the forest/nature. Because of this, when people cut down the forest, it can be understood as an effort to weaken Papuan people’s relationship with the forest and natural environment. Papuans who live close to nature find themselves in a dilemma. Their forest has been cut down, and so the places they look for food, hunt or fetch clean water are all gone. Meanwhile they get no benefit from the oil palm plantations.

Investors currently think that the forests of Papua are going to be replaced with oil palm. Through their various forms of propaganda, the companies make wonderful promises to the communities which hold the customary land rights. that they will be given their own oil palm smallholdings. The companies say they will attend to community education and healthcare needs and even say they will guarantee increased economic security. Just like the oil palm company in Wami and Yaro villages in Nabire. However, in reality the indigenous people just suffer more and more. According to the National Central Statistics Bureau data from 2010 they are also the poorest. Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces (Papua 37.53% and West Papua 35.71%) have the highest levels of poverty nationwide, despite Papua’s abundant natural resources. The government needs to look and think whose fault this is? Or could it be that it is government policy which is to blame, and is disadvantaging the Papuan people?

Oil palm out of Papua

Policies are needed to manage and use natural resources in a balanced way, or one which is intended to benefit Papuan people. If this takes place then people’s economic security will also tend to increase. Forest doesn’t have to be replaced with oil palm to increase economic security. There are still many opportunities for businesses that will ensure a secure future for Papuans. It is not ethical to sacrifice forests which have intrinsic value with something which is to be used for a short time. We need to understand that Papuans are people who are one with nature so they have to defend it and pass it on to future generations. Don’t destroy the forest with all its wildlife and traditional medicines, we need to evaluate and simply refuse all companies, including oil palm companies in the Land of Papua, and Nabire in particular.

nb 2,0

When oil palm companies move in they will clear the forest. Take, for example, the case of PT Nabire Baru in Wami (Yaur District) and in Sima District, Nabire. According to local people in Wami, the company plans to clear 32,000 of forest. There would be another 8000 in Sima. Meanwhile the deacon of Nabire Bay says that the company plans to clear 17,000 hectares between Wami and Yaro. The Nabire Regency Administration has issued a permit to PT Nabire Baru to develop an oil palm plantation in order to stimulate the economy for the people of Nabire. The government believes that bringing PT Nabire Baru to Wami and Sima will bring economic security both to local indigenous communities and non-Papuans living in Nabire. The government didn’t consider the need to conserve the forest, trees and animals, but just gave the company a permit. By imposing forest conversion to oil palm, the ecosystem and all the animals living around Wami and Yaro villages will be destroyed. The use of pesticides and domestic waste will result in a reduction in the environmental support capacity. That is why it is important to reject oil palm in Wami and Sima.

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We have already watched closely how different areas of Papua have experienced oil palm companies. In each case the reality is that oil palm plantations never bring security to the people of Papua, so why do they still want to allow new oil palm plantations to start up across Papua, this time in Nabire? Oil palm plantations will actually bring new problems for Papuans because they will lose sources of food, medicinal plants will be wiped out and sacred places will be lost. Maybe it is to give job opportunities to immigrant workers from outside Papua? In this way, however, the number of new inhabitants will increase, and the existing inhabitants will just get poorer and never find economic security. Whose interest lies behind forest clearance for oil palm in Papua? Papua is being taken over by foreign companies, and the losers are the ordinary people. It is the ordinary people who will lose their work as farmers because they are not able to compete with big business, or even cannot adjust to working for a modern enterprise. The Papuan people live directly from nature. To get accustomed to modern methods takes a long time for indigenous Papuans. Local governments don’t supply indigenous Papuans with training. Therefore the local people are just considered stupid and unskilled, meaning it is very easy for companies just to bring in immigrants from outside of Papua to make up their workforce.

Conserving Papua’s forest has to be placed in a framework of saving the Papuan people. Papua’s forest should not be seen as a forest for it’s own sake only, but something which is correlated with the Papuan people’s identity. Thinking like this, forest is no longer an object to be exploited, but an integral part of the people of Papua and must be protected and conserved.

A Portrait of Oil Palm for Indigenous Residents of Nabire

The weak and the poor in Papua suffer if their land is gone. They will suffer the loss of traditional medicines and sacred places. Papuan indigenous people’s intimate knowledge of other communities is destroyed by companies that operate or want to operate in Papua. Those communities include the communities of living people and those who have died and are now spirits. Other communities include the water in rivers and lakes, trees, grasses and all rocks and soil that occur in Papua.

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If a company is able to destroy these communities, the indigenous people of Papua will experience a crisis of community and in their relationships and enter a state of chaos. If their deep understanding of nature and these communities is destroyed, they will also go through an inner crisis, disasters such as floods and starvation will increase, even leading to death. This is a clear statement that if a company wants to move into Papua, that company must pay for all the costs it will create, including for dozens of generations to come. If it is unable to pay, then it shouldn’t bother coming to Papua. For this reason, all destruction and forest clearing must stop. Because it is in contradiction with this deep connection with nature and all the communities which are found in Papua.

Portraying it in this way can illustrate how as Nabire experiences increasing levels of forest and environmental destruction, values of peace and justice and even living together as neighbours are fading out of Papuan people’s lives. The challenge set to any company that wants to come to Papua is to respect the indigenous people and their connection to nature. If a company values the forest and environment, it must show a high level of respect for the home of all the communities that exist around Wami and Yaro villages. Only from this can spring a life that of peace and justice, with the indigenous people in harmony with forest communities, in Papua in general and in Nabire in particular.

How the Church in Papua can be involved.

The basis for the how the Church’s can be involved and what position to take on this pastoral challenge can be found in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Guadragessimo Anno (1931). These two documents speak of the Church’s social stance towards workers and the poor, and even societal problems, in terms of the Church’s social and pastoral service. The documents of the Second Vatican Council offer a clear social theology viewpoint for a more comprehensive involvement of the Church, not just limited to workers and their problems, but more about the relationship between the Church and the wider world. In this reflection the Church provides a theological viewpoint on its political commitment as an integral part of its work, and its involvement and place within the social arena. The Church is fundamentally opposed to all forms of human oppression. The Church emphatically rejects that political authority should be placed above God’s authority. Due to this reflection, the Church is always involved in voicing humanitarian values around Indonesia and in Papua in particular. This involvement with society is clarified once more in Gaudium Et Spes art 1 which states: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” In summary, these Church documents form a point on which to press for the Church’s involvement in various social issues in Indonesia, and especially in Papua, for the sake of the safety and freedom of humanity and the nature which was created for this earth. To respond to this aim, it is time for us to be open to getting involved and choose our position to be able to respond to the challenges that exist in Papua. That means that as forest and environmental destruction becomes more firmly established in Papua, the issue requires our collective attention and care.

Author: Pastoral Staff of Timika Diocese, Papua.

nb 2,1Photo: Trees being cut down. Iron wood trees are being consumed by PT Nabire Baru

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Bulldozers destroy the Yerisiam people’s sacred lands around Wami and Sima villages

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Thousands of hectares of forest and hilly ground is being destroyed for oil palm by PT Nabire Baru in Wami and Sima villages, Yaur District Nabire,  West Papua

[awasmifee note: PT Nabire Baru is a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch, a Sri Lankan company, via its plantations business The Goodhope Company. Other linked subsidiary companies involved in Nabire are PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri and PT Sariwana Adi Perkasa]