Open Letter to the Plantation Industry in Indonesia

Feature story - October 29, 2015
Forest fires are once again raging out of control across Indonesia. In Pekanbaru and other cities across Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua, millions of people are suffering. A state of emergency has been declared in several regions as the authorities struggle to bring the fires under control.

This is a humanitarian crisis caused by a man-made environmental disaster. These fires are the result of decades of forest destruction and peatland drainage by the plantation sector. It reinforces the need for Indonesia’s pulp and palm oil industries to address the root cause of forest and peatland fires by implementing ‘no deforestation’ policies. Only be ensuring long-term forest and peat protection will the cycle of fire be broken. 

Last week, President Joko Widodo announced plans to fight the fires by protecting Indonesia’s forests and peatlands, including improving transparency through the One Map initiative. This is exactly the right course of action to take. Over the coming weeks, companies in fire-hit areas should respond to the President’s call to action by stopping routine plantation activities and prioritising fire fighting. With trust so low and the stakes so high, companies must demonstrate to the people of Indonesia that they doing all they can to get the situation under control.

 In addition to deploying all possible resources to fighting fires, both inside your own concessions and in surrounding areas, Greenpeace is asking you to take these steps as part of a Fire Action Plan to help bring the crisis to the earliest possible end: 

  • Require all suppliers to immediately stop forest clearance and any further development on peatland. Actively monitor suppliers to ensure compliance with this policy. Suspend trade with any supplier that continues clearing forest or draining peatlands. 

  • Re-flood and implement other water management measures in critical peatland areas to mitigate fire risks, based on advice from independent peat experts. 

  • Support the Indonesian government’s One Map initiative by publishing all maps for your own and suppliers’ concessions through Global Forest Watch’s online forest monitoring and alert system. 

  • Support an industry-wide ban on forest clearance and peatland development in Indonesia and work with other stakeholders to deliver it. 

Once the fires have been brought under control we will need to agree industry-wide solutions to ensure that this crisis can not happen again. That must include progress with the One Map initiative and improved forest governance. The industry must also address the economic incentives for forest and peatland destruction through an industry-wide ban on trade with companies that continue to destroy forests and develop on peatland.

 We must all work together to stop this crisis. I trust that you will play your part.

 Bustar Maitar

Global Head Indonesia Forest Campaign

Greenpeace SEA Indonesia