The work done in EJOLT is recognised by environmental justice organisations in many corners of the world. Recently, the largest Indonesian environmental organisation – WALHI or Friends of the Earth Indonesia – picked up our report on industrial tree plantations and translated it in Bahasa, including updates for Indonesia. We send it to Indonesian media and they are using the translated report to build up capacities and spread knowledge within their country. This example of cooperation illustrates the scope of EJOLT: we aim to support struggles for environmental justice wherever they take place, beyond the borders of pre-defined deliverables. Here’s the press release we’ve just send to Indonesian media:
The World Rainforest Movement (WRM), the Indonesian environmental organization WALHI and the EU Science in Society project Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) jointly launch an updated version of “An overview of industrial tree plantations in the global South: conflicts, trends, and resistance struggles”. It was first published in 2012 in the context of the European EJOLT project.
The new and updated report is written in Bahasa
This report covers the main tree plantation types (eucalyptus, pine, acacia, oil palm, rubber) and systematizes impacts of these plantations reported over the past 15 years in many tropical and subtropical countries, mainly based on communities’ experiences. Using numbers on the expansion of industrial tree plantations since the 1990s, the report looks at new and relevant trends.
The report shows a fourfold expansion of industrial tree plantations in developing countries to more than 60 million hectares today, based on an irrational logic of short-term profit making at the cost of long-term gains. It explains how for every need for paper, cosmetics and palm oil in high-consuming countries there is a process of land, forests and water acquisition in tropical countries like Indonesia.
The importance of a version of this report in Bahasa lies in the fact that Indonesia is one of the main countries in the world in terms of industrial tree plantation expansion. The main plantation type is oil palm, which now covers more than 9 million hectares of lands in Indonesia. Between 1967 and 2007, the area under oil palm monocultures has increased about 50 times. This expansion has sped up since the 1990s. According to the report, in Indonesia and also in Malaysia, more than 50% of the oil palm expansion since 1990 has taken place at the expense of forests, and forest-dependent communities. The figures for Indonesia show that plantation-related social conflicts account for one third of all land conflicts in the country and that the national land agency in Indonesia has registered some 3,500 on-going land conflicts. The report describes the regional distribution of these conflicts and the phases they usually have. Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Indonesia’s largest paper producer, is taken as an example of an aggressive tree plantation company that creates these conflicts.
On May 13, the Indonesian government took the welcome decision to extend the moratorium to approved new forest exploitation permits. However, WRM and WALHI stress that it has to focus more on preventing forest destruction, while it also has to come together with a solution for the many conflicts around existing permits between companies and communities, and also include measures against permits improperly issued, e.g. for the establishment of more plantations.
In Europe, EJOLT is putting pressure on policymakers to review the FAO definition of a forest and to make sure that forest people can participate in a new definition, to review any policy that stimulates Industrial Tree Plantations and to work on lowering the need for imports. More information is in this 2p briefing for EU policymakers.
In Indonesia, WALHI and WRM are asking to make the moratorium in Indonesia more robust, to include recovery rights of the people, to restore the environment, to enforce the law against the perpetrators of forest destruction and a review of existing concessions. The government has recently extended the ban on approving new licenses for concessions. People in Indonesia really hope that this will be a first step towards more respect for people’s rights and environmental functions.