Aceh's 'green' governor breaks Indonesia's moratorium by granting oil palm plantation, alleges groupmongabay.com
November 23, 2011
WALHI says Governor Irwandi granted a permit to palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to convert 1,605 hectares of peat forest in Nagan Raya District into an oil palm plantation. The approval appears to violate a presidential instruction issued earlier this year banning new concessions in primary forests and peatlands.
WALHI is now suing the governor in Aceh's administrative court. It says the governor could face up to 5 years in prison under Indonesian law.
But WAHLI also suggests that Iwardi may not be fully culpable in the case.
"Provincial government sources have stated that this 'uncharacteristic' signing of the approval document, dated August 25th, suggests he was either 'very pressured to sign it', or simply 'may not have been fully aware of what he was signing'," said WALHI Spokeperson TM Zulfiker in a statement.
Governor Irwandi has become renowned for his efforts to save Aceh's forests and is recognized as a leader in the Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force, which is setting up a mechanism for industrialized countries to fund forest conservation programs in tropical countries.
Given Iwardi's prominent forest conservation efforts, John O. Niles, Director of the Tropical Forest Group, a forest policy NGO based in the U.S., said judgement should be withheld until all the facts are in on the case.
"This is a serious allegation, but Irwandi has demonstrated his strong personal commitment to the people and forests of Aceh," said Niles, who has worked for governor Irwandi's office on REDD. "Let's wait till we see the facts and hear from the Governors' office before leaping to any judgments".
Aceh is among the most forested provinces in Sumatra, which has suffered widespread forest loss for oil palm estates and pulp and paper plantations.
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