In Kinipan, Borneo, the SML company is cutting down the forest to establish a palm plantation. The Kinipan forest is both a peat forest and a habitat for orangutans.
The indigenous Dayak Tomun of Kinipan, Borneo, have tried everything - peaceful protests, denunciations, filing formal complaints with the government - and yet the sounds of chainsaws and diesel engines continue to be heard in the jungle.
For generations, the Dayak Tomun have ruled the land, and now ancient trees are falling one after another before their eyes. Behind the loggers come endless lines of oil palms.
SML is a company of one of Indonesia's most powerful loggers, and it is trampling on indigenous rights and destroying one of the last remaining rainforests in the heart of Borneo - and with it the last habitats of orangutans and clouded panthers that remain.
The Dayak Tomuns have exhausted the legal means available to them, and we urgently need to help them apply international pressure. Please sign our petition calling on the Indonesian government to remove the loggers from the Kinipan forest.
To: President Joko Widodo, Minister of Environment and Forests Siti Bakar Nurbaya, Human Rights Commission Komnas HAM, Governor of Central Kalimantan, CEO of RSPO and ISPO, CEO of SML and SSMS, CEO of Wilmar, GAR, Apical
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
In Kinipan, Lamandau district, Kalimantan Centralk province, the PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari (SML) company has been cutting down the forest for months. It is a catastrophe for biodiversity, the global climate and indigenous peoples. I am writing to you to use your influence on SML and stop the logging immediately.
The Indonesian government has taken some steps to protect the remaining forest, including a moratorium on new plantings and a ban on planting oil palm on peat soils and burned areas.
That is why it is very striking that the SML company that is related to the Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS) group can cut down the forest. More than 10,000 of the roughly 19,240 hectares in the vast area have already been logged. Any additional felling should be avoided.
As a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) as well as holder of an RSPO certificate, SSMS and their companies should adhere to the principles and criteria of these certification seals. These policies include non-deforestation and respect for the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
SML does not meet these conditions. A massive logging like this is by no means sustainable. The people of Kinipan have repeatedly made it clear that they are against logging and the establishment of a palm plantation. This has been presented in writing and expressed in peaceful protests. But SSMS even uses violence and intimidation.
Pre-RSPO complaints and a risk analysis have shown that SSMS palm oil is associated with high risks.
SSMS sells its palm oil to Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, and Apical. Buyers and intermediaries share responsibility for the ecological and social consequences of a destructive practice that does not respect people or nature.
The Kinipan forest is still three-quarters intact. Found in part on peat soils, it is a habitat for orangutans and must be protected according to national and international law.
You must immediately stop the destruction of the Kinipan Forest!
Palm oil, a risky business
Kinipan is a small Borneo town where almost a thousand people live. Since April, the people have requested the formalization of traditional rights over their forest (hutan adat). The inhabitants have mapped their forests in a participatory way. The community lives by growing rice, rubber, rattan and berries.
In Kinipan, the oil palm company PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari (SML) has a concession of 26,995.46 hectares of land and a logging concession of 19,240 hectares. Three-quarters of the area is forest and habitat for orangutans, clouded panthers, and many other endangered wildlife and rare rainforest trees. It is directly adjacent to the Belantikan Conservation Program and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. A plantation would directly threaten endangered species and leave protected areas isolated and separated from each other.
The jungle is partly bog and therefore should be strictly protected. On the other hand, the forest is declared a producer forest, which means that certain species of tropical trees can be cut down, but root felling is in principle prohibited.
Since 2012, SML has tried to obtain the consent of the population to establish the plantation. But the people of Kinipan have always rejected it, also in writing. They fear for the jungle and for their very existence, and they are also afraid of landslides and floods.
SML is associated with Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS), a company that was extensively engaged in the timber business during the Suharto period, one of the main causes of the destruction of the Borneo rainforest, who in particular is accused of having caused great destruction in the Tanjung Puting National Park.
In 2014, the NGO Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) filed a complaint against SSMS with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RSPO. So SML / SSMS broke the following RSPO principles: 1) there were no consultations; 2) measures to protect high biodiversity forests were inadequate; 3) the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent was not taken into account; 4) the Environmental Impact Assessment did not comply with the legal requirements; and 5) SML did not have all the necessary permits. The claim was upheld and SSMS temporarily lost 80% of its palm oil buyers.
A 2015 risk analysis directly alerts investors in the palm oil business by classifying SSMS as high risk.
Before this scandal, SSMS's palm oil was purchased by the Wilmar Group, which is the world's largest palm oil trader; the Apical Group, which is the largest Indonesian palm oil trader, of the Raja Garuda Mas conglomerate, which also includes the well-known APRIL pulp group; and Golden Agri Resources of the Sinar Mas Group, which in turn includes the cellulose pulp and paper group APP.
Although SML and also SSMS supply the palm oil leakage market (Palmöl Leakage Market), which sells palm oil that comes from areas where the forest has been deforested and supplies the demand of large companies (such as Unilever) that do not they can meet their needs with "sustainable" palm oil.
The risky palm grower changed ownership in 2016, although the people in charge did not change. SSMS has handled its expansion policy in an equally aggressive way. In the last three years SSMS was able to expand its land holdings from 60,000 to more than 100,000 hectares. The clear cutting of another 50,000 hectares is already in their plans.
Resistance against oil palm
To avoid plantations, the people of Kinipan requested recognition of the jungle as a traditional forest (hutan adat). In April 2018 they delivered all the documentation that includes the required participatory mapping.
Pro already in February 2018 SML began to deforest. "They cut down trees of various species." The inhabitants of Kinipan did not dare to oppose the environmental crime, since logging was under military protection. Instead, they wrote to the company three times demanding that it stop deforestation and requesting an interview and condemned those responsible to repair the damage according to their traditional law. They received no reply. And they had to contemplate how part of their forest lost the status of “forest”. On paper, this means that no forest will be deforested for these new plantations.
The claims continued until they reached the provincial government, from which there was no reaction. In June, nine community members traveled to Jakarta and spoke with the president's office, the Ministry of Forests, the Peat Administration and the Human Rights Commission. The administrations became interested in the legal aspects of logging, and promised to deal with the conflict. And to follow through on this promise, we seek international support. Pushing helps!
Peaceful protests have been taking place since October 2018. The people of Kinipan demand that SML stop the oil palm plantation and leave the forest. It is extremely urgent because half of the forest has already been cut down.