Walhi scores court victory in Aceh


Something for issues managers to watch out for: Walhi’s success in getting the Medan District Court to revoke a business permit by an oil company to mine in a peatland. Unfortunately, the story does not say whether there are other similar cases, make it difficult to ascertain whether such favorable decisions for environmentalists is part of a trend.

To Unspun’s knowledge, however, such victories by environmentalists against business are rare. Worth keeping a watch for cases like these.

Court grants Walhi appeal, cancels plantation permit in Aceh

Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah has been instructed to revoke a legally problematic business permit owned by oil company, PT Kallista Alam, which operates in the carbon-rich Tripa peat swamps in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, by the Medan Administrative Court after granting an appeal filed by the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

The permit was granted to the company by former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf on Aug. 25, 2011, contradicting Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on the moratorium of new permits in primary forests and peatland conversion areas.

Walhi Aceh’s executive director, Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar, applauded the verdict, which was signed by a panel of judges led by Arpani Mansur on Aug. 30, saying it was an important ruling supporting efforts to protect more than 61,000 hectares of Tripa peatland.

“We urge the Aceh governor to immediately follow up the verdict by revoking the company’s permit, as well as evaluating all permits owned by other oil palm companies operating in the area,” Zulfikar said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post Digital on Wednesday.

Tripa peat swamp is peatland with a depth of three meters or more, meaning it is protected under a 1990 presidential decree.

PT Kallista Alam is also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the National Police for allegedly illegally burning the protected peat swamp to convert the area into an oil palm plantation, further threatening the ecosystem of about 200 orangutans that live in the area.

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