16.6 C
Byron Shire
March 31, 2023

Orangutan habitat destruction approved by governor

Latest News

Is polluting a lake in a national park to support new housing ok?

From Byron Bay to Evans Head to Casino the questions about how we deal with what is politely termed ‘effluent’, and how that may or may not destroy our local environment, demand real and urgent answers.

Other News

TEB takes one from two in cricket grand finals

Last Saturday saw grand final cricket action across all grades on the Far North Coast with Tintenbar-East Ballina (TEB)...

It’s Sunset and it’s Loooooong

If there’s one thing that indie music fans can all agree on, it’s The Long Sunset – the wanderlust music and camping festival set in the lush surrounds of the Canungra, Queensland hinterland on 29 April.

‘Bees they’re fucking awesome!’ so why are we introducing flies?

The little varroa mite is leading to the eradication of many beehives in NSW. Researchers will be releasing pollinator flies in the Coffs Harbour biosecurity Red Zone to help pollinate berry crops.

Will Provest win the Tweed seat over Elliot?

It appears that Tweed MP Geoff Provest will retain the seat of Tweed but there are still plenty of votes to be counted.

The May Day 

Forget the first, 6 May is the day that Luna Wine Store welcomes 30 of Australia’s most exciting winemakers and natural wine importers to the region for the Full Moon Natural Wine Festival at the Eltham Hotel.

Appeal to locate man last seen at Casino on way to Tweed

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man from Grafton missing from the North Coast area.

As 97 fires burn critical Sumatran orangutan habitat, resulting in hundreds of orangutan deaths, the environment movement has been waiting for a judge’s ruling in a court action against a major palm oil company and the governor of Aceh province.

Environmental grassroots network Friends of the Earth Indonesia took the Aceh governor and large palm oil company (PT, Kallista Alam) to court for illegally approving the destruction of Tripa, an area of peat forests known to have the highest densities of Sumatran orangutans in the world.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported last Wednesday, ‘After five months of detailed argument, the three-judge court sitting in Banda Aceh threw the case out on jurisdictional grounds, saying the complainants from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) should first have sought mediation with the company.

‘The lawyer for the complainants, Kamaruddin, said the judges had used the wrong legislation – the environmental law, not administrative law – to make their determination, and said an appeal was likely.’

Meanwhile, the future for the endangered orangutan looks increasingly grim.

Tripa is one of only six remaining populations of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and one of the UNEP-GRASP priority sites for the species. It currently hosts around 280 Sumatran orangutans, accounting for more than four per cent of the remaining world population. Tripa also has amongst the highest densities of orangutans anywhere in the world, which has facilitated a unique culture of tool use.

The Orangutan Project (formally known as The Australian Orangutan Project, www.orangutan.org.au) provides direct funding to help support the work involved with the conservation of the Tripa swamps.

Leif Cocks, president of the project, says, ‘Without immediate action we are seeing the death throes of Tripa and the hundreds of orangutans that need the peat land for survival. The palm oil companies are on a mission to destroy as much of the remaining forest that they can and as fast as they possibly can, ignoring the effect on the local communities that rely on the ecosystem for their health and livelihood. The orangutan population will be totally slaughtered if the current destruction is not stopped. Orangutans are dying en masse.’

In May, 2010 Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent, in which Indonesia stated its intent to reduce emissions from forest and peat-land conversions, including a two-year moratorium on new concessions for converting peat lands and natural forests, while Norway would provide $1 billion to assist Indonesia with establishing REDD projects.

The two-year moratorium was established through Presidential Instruction 10/2011, and the first revision of the ‘Moratorium on New Permits’ map was issued by the Indonesian minister of forestry at the end of November, 2011. The map shows the areas of primary forest and peat lands that are effectively off limits and protected from any new exploitation permits.

In the new revised version of the map, an area in the Tripa peat swamps on the west coast of Aceh, shown as protected peat land in the first edition of the map issued in May, had been mysteriously removed from the areas under protection.

Coincidentally, just a few days earlier, the Aceh branch of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia had launched a court case in Aceh against the governor of Aceh and oil palm company PT Kallista Alam, requesting the cancelling of the governor’s permit issued to Kallista Alam, to convert this very same area of forest on deep peat land to an oil palm plantation. The permit was issued on 25 August 2011 – three months after the first edition of the map clearly outlined the area as protected and off limits to any new exploitation permits.

The illegal concession was a major issue for the Indonesian delegation at the UNCCC in Durban, South Africa, with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the president’s own special task force of reducing carbon emissions, explaining:

‘While we recognise the need for the palm oil industry to also grow, signing an agreement with a palm oil company to allow the conversion of protected peat land into palm oil plantations very clearly breaks the moratorium.’

Despite the judge’s ruling being overdue, there is no evidence that any investigation has been carried out.

The long-term environmental impacts, particularly drought and flooding, for local communities that have already lost most of their traditional livelihoods, will be irreversible, with the area ultimately becoming unusable due to coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion, even for the oil palm companies. All at the cost of huge carbon emissions from the degraded peat.

A win in this case will represent a major turning point for the long-term protection of the Leuser Ecosystem, probably the single most important protected ecosystem in South-East Asia, and send a strong message towards improving environmental governance in Indonesia.

The Orangutan Project urges members of the Australian government, as well as the public, to email the president of Indonesia: [email protected] and CC your email to the Indonesian embassy in Australia: [email protected] and tell him to uphold the law and protect the Tripa Peat Swamps of Sumatra. More information can be found at www.orangutan.org.au.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Appeal to locate man last seen at Casino on way to Tweed

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man from Grafton missing from the North Coast area.

Do you still need help to get two rooms fixed after the 2022 flood?

More than 80 Lismore residents have had help getting a few rooms in their flood-impacted homes re-sheeted and habitable following the devastating 2022 floods.  The...

$15,000 fine and warnings over illegal logging in Kyogle Shire

Urbenville-based logging company Rojech Pty Ltd were fined $15,000 earlier this month over logging operations near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park in Kyogle Shire.

No street gathering policy for Ballina Shire

A majority of Ballina Shire councillors have voted against a Greens-led motion for a new policy enabling resident-led street closures for gatherings and play.