Greenpeace and Jikalahari support Riau Governor’s call for a moratorium decree on forests and peatlands conversion

Press release - November 6, 2008
Greenpeace and the Riau-based environmental group Jikalahari called upon the Indonesian government to support the call for a moratorium decree on forests and peatlands conversion made by Riau Governor Wan Abubakar, during a media briefing on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, in Riau, Sumatra today.

Kampar Peninsular, Riau. Greenpeace activists from the MY Esperanza unfurl a 40 x 20 meter banner on recently cleared peatland forest in the pulp and paper concession of PT. Arara Abadi-Siak owned by APP (Asia Pulp and Paper). Greenpeace is protesting against the destruction of Kampar Peninsular's peatland forest by pulp and paper and palm oil industries and calling for the Indonesian Government to implement a moratorium on deforestation. Peatland forest is critical for maintaining biodiversity and it's degradation releases vast stores of carbon thereby contributing to global climate change.

Greenpeace today took a number of senior Indonesian journalists on helicopter sorties to witness the ongoing destruction of Riau's last remaining intact peatland forests from palm oil expansion and the pulp and paper industry. The Governor declared a moratorium on peatland conversion in August 2008, expressing his concerns about its impact on the environment and Riau communities, but this is yet to be formalised.(1)

"Riau is rich in natural resources, but every year our province is being flooded and covered by haze from forest fires due to drastically depleting forest cover located in the peatlands. Unfortunately, that forest loss is not followed by people's welfare. We must immediately implement a province-wide moratorium on forests and peatlands conversion to secure people's safety and sustainable development in Riau." said the Governor.

"Peatland forest in Kampar Peninsula is the largest remaining intact forest in Riau, but the area is heavily threatened by conversion for pulpwood and palm oil plantation," explained Hariansyah Usman, Deputy Coordinator of Jikalahari(2). "It also plays an important role for the livelihood of Riau's Malay people. If there is no moratorium on forests and peatlands conversion in Riau, the dignity of Malay people will vanish alongside the remaining forest."

To help turn the Governor's declaration into reality, Greenpeace and Jikalahari have been conducting an assessment and mapping of Kampar Peninsular using satellite imagery and ground-truthing to develop a rehabilitation plan for peatlands already degraded and drained by palm oil and pulp and paper companies.

"The Indonesian government must support the Riau Governor's initiative and in fact declare a nation-wide moratorium," said Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner. "This is essential if it is to address Indonesia's alarming greenhouse gas emissions and to protect Indonesia's remaining forests and peatlands for future generations."

Greenpeace embarked on the Indonesian leg of its "Forests for Climate" ship tour in Jayapura, Papua on 6 October, to shine the spotlight on the rampant destruction of the Paradise Forests - the last remaining ancient forests of Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Forest Campaigner, (in Pekanbaru) +62 (0) 812 682 12 14 Hariansyah Usman, Deputy Coordinator of Jikalahari (in Pekanbaru) +62 (0) 812 766 999 67 Nabiha Shahab, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Media Campaigner, (onboard the Esperanza) +62 (0) 81314213432 Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Forest Campaigner, (onboard the Esperanza) +62 (0) 813 44 666 135 Martin Baker, Communications Coordinator (Asia), Greenpeace International, +62 (0) 8131 5829513 (in Jakarta)

VVPR info: Findi Kenandarti, Assistant Media Campaigner, +62 (0) 8161681840

Notes: (1) A Governor’s Regulation to formalise the moratorium currently awaits technical inputs from the government’s moratorium team within Governor Wan Abubakar’s administration. (2) Jikalahari (Forest Rescue Network Riau) was founded in 2002 and campaigns for sustainable forest management in Riau Province, which respects the rights of local and indigenous peoples.