by Sin Nombre (Mongabay-Indonesia),
May 29, 2013
Nabire sacred forests are dismantled (photo: Mongabay Indonesia)
Approximately 55 kilometres on the West of Nabire region of Papua Province unfolds a large amount of forest that is owned by a large tribe called the Yerisiam. This tribe has 4 (four) sub tribes namely Wauha, Akaba, Karoba and Sarakwari. The area with tens of thousands hectares is situated at the shoreline of Cenderawasih Bay.
Apart from the sea, the forest has been the source of life for these four tribes from which they obtain sago, traditional medicine and it’s their hunting ground. There is also a sacred place believe to be the resting place of the spirits of their forefathers.
The situation changed since 1990-1991 when HPH (Forest Concession) Company, PT Sesco entered Wanggar and Yaro districts and took bars of Merbau wood. The chairperson of the Cooperative Society, Yunus Kegou, said that the company ended its operation in 2000 and left many broken promises.
“At that time, the company hadn’t paid Rp.40 million which is approximately A$3900 with the count of Rp.1000 per cubic meter with is equivalent to A$0.95. The request from the local which are 4 motors, 4 chainsaws and 1 vehicle for the locals to use hasn’t been paid till present,” said Kegou.
In 2003, three companies entered and established in this area, namely PT. Pakartioga, PT. Junindo and PT. Kalimanis (PT Jati Dharma Indah). Allegedly, these companies changed their names from PT. Sesco to PT. Pakartioga, and the HPH (forest concession holder) to the name PT. Junindo, and PT Jati Dharma Indah (JDI) to the the name PT. Kalimanis. In the HPH permit, the operating period of JDI ends on 2017, with the permit of operation on the West and East of the Nabire Region – a huge part of Cenderawasih Bay.
The presence of all these companies left many opaque stories. Their social responsibilities are negative, labourers were imported, and the experiences with transmigrant and the outsiders created conflicts not only with in the civilians but with the companies as well.
Erens Rumbobiar, the Chief of Makimi village situated on the eastern side of Nabire town, said that the conflicts with the locals occurred several times, and were the logging companies fault at that time. One of the cases that stimulated conflict was when Jordan and Paulus Ha’o permitted logging company PT. Barito to chop down the trees and turn them into logs, not knowing that the area is a customary land of Sefnat Monei. The conflict almost ended up in physical attacks (according to Customary Law) so the matter was taken to Didimus Warai’s residence, who as the Chief of Wate’s tribe, solved it. People that were present at that time represented their clan which were Utrech Inggeruhi, Simon Hanebora as a witness for Sefnat Monei, Nikanor Monei and Jordan Ha’o.
In 2007, JDI that had been permitted to operate till 2017 invited PT Harvest Raya Company from Korea to start the oil palm plantation in the region. The locals refused PT Harvest Raya because it is thought to be threatening their future and future of their generations. However, this refusal produced polemic within the Monei clan whereby Sefnat Monei as the owner of the customary land refused, but his children allowed the exploitation of the land to be carried out.
This time, PT. Nabire Baru (NB), another oil palm company entered and settled in two of the villages in Yaur District of Nabire Region namely Sima and Wami village. This concession is located with the Northern side bordered by the ocean of Cenderawasih Bay, and the Southern side bordered by the JDI production forest and Wami village. The western side borders the road connecting Nabire – Wasior and also PT. Sariwarna Adiperkasa HPH, and the Eastern side of the area borders the production forest, Jaya Mukti village, and Wanggar River.
The company is said by local villagers to be building communication with the local people in the area which led up to a thanksgiving at the early 2010. Traditional prayer was carried out as a start of the business and the compensation of the land was agreed as Rp.6, 000,000,000 which is equivalent to A$600,000. This agreement is said to be completed without the involvement of JDI.
Afterwards, several individuals persuaded Nabire Regional Government to issue new permits. After the thanksgiving, the people demanded the government solve the HPH land issue so it doesn’t interfere with the oil palm plantation. Eventually local people were driven by few individuals sign a petition on a piece of white cloth, and took it to the Parliament office in Nabire with the hopes that the issue of the location is solved.
The reason was that JDI has long left the area and there was no communication with the indigenous people even though the permit HPH is still valid. At that time, Benyamin Karet the Setda (Regional Secretariat) for Nabire Region, said that the status of the area of 17,000 hectares was problematic because it’s still owned by PHP JDI. That area itself had not been plotted for oil palm plantation, but driven by the persuasion of the indigenous people, Nabire Regional Government issued a permit in the form of the Regent’s decision. The principle of the cultivation permit is that the funding is issued by an Investor’s Agency on 21 of September 2010.
Nabire Regent Isaias Douw, said the indigenous people admitted that the location is safe and can be used NB. “There had been a conversation between the company and the indigenous people and had been an agreement with the locals. Therefore, we issued a permit to the investor because the locals demanded,” he said.
However, the Regional Government knew there would be a problem with JDI, they therefore asked the locals and NB to solve the problematic location with the companies PHP. At that time, the activists blamed NB and JDI as if they deliberately stirred up the conflict in deceiving the locals of taking merbau wood from their area.
NB Consultant, PT Widya Cipta Buana, led by Iwan Setyawan, at the public consultation analysis in regards to the environmental impact (AMDAL) in early May 2013, explained in Sima Village that the company “is based on the Environmental Act, Government’s rules and policies, and even the rules and policies of the Minister of Environment Number 16 and 17 of 2012 concerning the Guidelines for community involvement in the EIA (Environment Impact Assessment), and an environment permit process. “From the legal perspective, the company has feasibility to carry out the activities”.
NB started the business in 2011 and recruited more than 1250 labours. In 2012, the company applied for the extension of the permit (which was granted via the) Regent’s decree number 71 2012 dated 24th of July 2012 about extending the location permit. The trees were then chopped down and turn into logs, and were taken out of Nabire, when the owner of the land protested.
The data collected by Mongabay, shows from the permit of 17,000 hectares, the area that was cultivated were 12.438,77 hectares including the conduit and the path in the garden and the cultivated area of 10.758.00 hectares. The rest include 1.851.88 hectares of the beach, 1.957.38 hectares of the river, 688,32 hectares of hills and the sacred places, 63,69 hectares of sago plantation and the nursery of 224,82 hectares. In 2013, the plan to cultivate is approximately 2.500 hectares, 4.500 hectares will be in 2014 and around 3.428 hectares will be in 2015. The factory will be built around 2015 with the processing capacity of 90 tonnes an hour.
Mr Kim, the owner of the company, claimed that he has been given the permit for 200,000 hectares of land and 20 other companies in Nabire Region and the surroundings, including several gold companies in Topo and Batu Bara area at the Eastern part of Nabire. Kim didn’t mention the details of all the companies that he owns.
To Be Continued…
Translated by West Papua Media