Plantation firms defy moratorium to continue clearing Sumatran rainforest

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Oil palm plantation firms are continuing to clear rainforest in the Leuser ecosystem on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, in defiance of a moratorium on deforestation.

Leuser lost 3,941 hectares of forest cover between January and July 2017, according to local watchdog Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA). The majority was cleared in the first six months of the year, with 1,093 hectares lost in June alone.

Clearance of rainforests for palm oil in Aceh Timur, Indonesia. Image via RAN Leuser Watch

Supply chain analysis by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has found that fruit from these plantations has been processed in the refineries of multinational palm oil giants, including Wilmar International, Golden-Agri-Resources and Musim Mas.

“We know from on-the-ground reports and satellite imagery that the Leuser Ecosystem continues to be destroyed, despite national and regional protections in place,” RAN forests communication manager Emma Rae Lierley told MongaBay.

The group has established a website, Leuser Watch, which provides continual updates on companies identified as having been previously involved in illegal deforestation in Leuser.

Read IDM’s coverage of illegal clearances by oil palm firm PT Agra Bumi Niaga here

Forest clearance for oil palm development has been banned in Leuser since June 2016, when the Acehnese government declared a moratorium on the practice.

The moratorium was stipulated in a circular letter that ordered all oil palm firms to stop clearing forests, even within areas they have already been licensed to develop, while the government reviews their permits.