This lack of transparency has received considerable global criticism due to concerns that many thousands of hectares of protected forests will be reclassified and hence made available to logging, palm oil and mining concessions, leading to a dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of landslides and flooding in this ecologically extremely sensitive province.
“We have all spent many months kindly requesting and trying to work with the Aceh Government to be more transparent in the development of their new spatial plan asking the details of opening up of protected forest areas, but details of what the Government is proposing still seem to be a very closely guarded secret.” said Efendi, Spokesperson for Aceh Forest Coalition. “It is well known in Aceh that these forests serve an irreplaceable role in providing water, both for domestic use and agriculture, and in mitigating disasters such as floods and landslides, which already kill hundreds of people in the province each year, and huge economic losses to infrastructure and agriculture.
“We are all extremely frustrated with the lack of transiency of the process so far, and very concerned that huge areas of the Leuser Ecosystem will be cut apart and fragmented by roads and made available for logging and palm oil conversion. This would be disastrous for Aceh. These forested water catchments are essential for Aceh’s rice production. As far as we can see, the new plan is certainly not in the interests of the majority of Acehnese. Destruction of these forests is solely in the interests of the the short term benefit of a few, already extremely rich and powerful elite.”
“Bappeda Aceh Staff, Mr Husnan (Aceh Regional Development and Planning Agency) said in the meeting today that there was no budget allocated for spatial planning activities next year, and they want to have the plan approved before the end of 2013. This is a very dangerous situation, as it seems budget is already being organized to be allocated for the projects from Provincial budget, these roads should be investigated by KPK (the Corruption Eradication Commission) and monitored closely by anti-corruption agencies as the status of most of the forests through which they are already cutting is still protected forest. These roads will not benefit communities, who will see only destruction result. They represent only an opportunity for a few contractors and logging bosses to get rich with Government money.”Said Efendi.
“If Aceh’s Government was serious about benefitting the Acehnese community, the spatial plan would protect Aceh’s most important environmental assets for generations to come, not to destroy our forests to line the pockets of the powerful few.” Concluded Efendi Isma ”We totally reject this plan so far. We demand a serious spatial plan to be developed for Aceh based on environmental sensitivity studies, for sustainable long term development. We have not accepted yet the current Spatial Planning process in Aceh but projects are being pushed into the forest before the plan is even made public or approved. This appears to be not only a clear breach of the law, but also a clear breach of the trust of the very people that voted this governor into office. I hope he realizes he will be held responsible for the damage and destruction in Aceh and for ruining the economic prospects for our children and their children to come if he allows Aceh to be destroyed by bad planning.
Recommendations of Community and NGO who attended Public Discussion:
1. Aceh provincial and districts/ city governments harmonize their spatial plans with higher regulations on spatial plan.
2. Aceh provincial and district / city governments should provide access to information (such as portal, website, briefs, etc.) related to spatial plan easily and transparently.
3. Aceh provincial and district / City governments facilitate the needs of the Adhoc Body (government, indigenous communities, CSOs, private sector) or be part of BKPRA to accelerate the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decision number 35/2012 regarding indigenous forest.
4. Not issuing any concession permit before RTRWA (spatial plan) is ratified
5. Civil society become part of BKPRA and BKPRD
6. Aceh provincial and district / City governments facilitate preparation of mukim (a mukim consists of several villages) spatial plans.
7. Need to develop a plan of advocacy by civil society to measure better the future spatial planning preparations in Aceh.
For further information please contact:
Aceh Forest Coalition (KPHA) Spokeperson
Phone : 081360160055
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org