Wildlife Asia Director, Clare Campbell, recently returned from Indonesia, meeting with local partners in Java and Aceh and reports the following update:
“Last week I was able to meet the HAKA team in Aceh and get a first hand update on the status of the spatial plan as well as activities in the field. Goldman Prize Winner Rudi Putra continues to lead an outstanding team in the field however they face ever increasing challenges. Last month alone, 13 elephant and tiger snares were removed as well as numerous other snares (see below) and evidence of recent poaching found. We must maintain the pressure and we need your support to do so!
In relation to the spatial plan, it has just come to light that the Aceh government already signed and archived the spatial plan (Qanun RTRWA) on March 3rd 2014, confirming rumours in the press around that time that the Aceh government considered the spatial plan in effect. This is despite the fact that the central government have identified serious legal violations in the spatial plan – including failure to recognise or even name the nationally protected Leuser Ecosystem. In February the Ministry of Domestic Affairs had issued an evaluation (SK650-441) of the Aceh spatial plan which required the Aceh government to revise the plan in accordance with the national law before it could be approved. It appears that the archived spatial plan has been kept very quiet for these past 3 months by the Aceh government.
On 11th June Walhi Aceh (Friends of the Earth Aceh) registered a legal case to sue the Governor’s illegal law (Pergub) on the utilisation of the Leuser Ecosystem. This regulation allows permits for activities like palm oil, logging and mining to be issued in the protected Leuser Ecosystem and so works hand in hand with the spatial plan. Unless the spatial plan is cancelled, Indonesian NGOs will likely be forced to embark on a lengthy and costly judicial legal case suing the spatial plan as well.
Following these major developments, a large EU delegation met with the Aceh Governor in Banda Aceh earlier this week to discuss the significance of the Leuser Ecosystem and the need for its legally protected status to be recognised in Aceh’s development plans. On this milestone visit to Aceh, the EU Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Olof Skoog, highlighted “the global importance of the Leuser ecosystem for biodiversity”.
Attention has now turned to Indonesia’s President SBY requesting that he immediately cancel the spatial plan. This will avoid a lengthy fight in the courts while the Leuser Ecosystem remains exposed to further illegal destruction. Cancellation of the plan by SBY would open the opportunity for a full revision of the spatial plan based on the solid footing of the Leuser Ecosystem’s status as a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection Function and environmental sensitivity analyses conducted by technical experts working together with the Aceh government. Without decisive action now by President SBY, the current spatial plan threatens the critical ecosystem services the Leuser Ecosystem provides to millions of people and threatens the very survival of the orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers that co-exist there.
In Java, the recently released Javan gibbon family continue to thrive in the forest. See picture below of young Yani exploring her freedom.
Young Yani enjoying life in the forest
Sadly, there is evidence of increased poaching of young gibbons in the region however, with several confiscations in recent months. It is important that we replicate the highly effective Gibbon Protection Unit currently operating in Mt Malabar to provide increased protection in other areas.
Devi, one of several young gibbons confiscated from wildlife traders this year.
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Gibbon Protection Unit operating in West Java