Sei sulla pagina 1di 9

IRA-GPE Class 2013 Final Examination Report

Utami Sandyarani | 10/296738/SP/23872

The Political Ecology of Deforestation in Acehs 2012-2033 Spatial Planning

On October 30th 2012, the governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, proposed a spatial planning which included conversion from protected forest to logging concessions to the Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta. The government stated that the spatial planning will be mostly allocated for housing, transmigration, infrastructure, public and social facilities1. Though, compared to the industry scheme, the plan for settlement and housing is much more undersized. There are claims stating that this proposal is actually aimed to clear five blocks of forest covering a total area of 21,311 hectares for timber2. An additional three blocks of protected forest covering 33,282 hectares are proposed to be converted to production forest 3. This forest will then be opened for plantations, mining and other large scale extractive industries. A spoke person of a large scale mining industry, East Asia Minerals, said that it was positive news to hear the spatial planning proposed because it would open more area to be explored4. The industrial development program that has been planned is largely criticized by many environmentalists, not only in Indonesia but across the globe, because it has not included community representatives at any stage of its development process. Furthermore, the critics also believe that it is very threatening for many floras and faunas living in the edge of extinction in that forest. Part of the area which was planned to be turned into logging concessions also belongs to Leuser National Park. The Leuser National Park covers an area of 2.6 million hectares and is a crucially important area of forest, houses 54 per cent of Asia's fauna including tigers, orang-

Presentation by The Governor of Aceh for Norwegian Ambassador, May 22 2013 2 Lang, Chris. Indonesia: Governor of Aceh Puts Forests Under Threat . REDD-Monitor. February 13 2013 3 Ibid 4 France-Presse, Agence. Indonesia Moves Towards Approving Deforestation Plan in Aceh. Jakarta Globe. April 19, 2013.

utans, rhinos, elephants, and clouded leopard5. Not only the spatial planning can destroy the wildlife; it can also be a human-disaster which leads to floods, droughts, and landslides because these forests are very functional to control the climate equilibrium6. Environmental NGO has been assessing this spatial plan ecologically and socially, and found that other than destroying the biodiversity and degrading the ecology, this plan is also very potential to inflict conflict. Many areas are found to be disputed by local people who have traditionally farmed the land 7. Many environmental NGO have stated their disagreement on the formation of this spatial plan. NGOs such as Walhi, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Indonesia and many more have expressed their objections to the government and put on campaign to stop the plan. After a long effort to push the government without achieving progress, these NGO then looked into global community as a solution. An online petition in and has been signed by more than 1,25 millions people throughout the globe until now8. Regarding that foreign involvement might be needed as an external push for the government, the letters of concerns were also sent to the ambassadors of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. But only the ambassador of Norway came up to reply on Norwegian Embassy for Indonesias website 9. Stig Traavik, the current ambassador of Norway for Indonesia, has raised this issue with key decision makers in Indonesia, and has been actively involved to initiate a mediation and open discussion between the government of Aceh, the NGOs, and the media to clear the problems on the table. The ambassador also went to Aceh in August 2013 to discuss further and give recommendation for the government and civil society concerning the spatial plan. Regarding the problems that have risen in Aceh concerning the proposed spatial plan, the writer would seek to answer some of the problems raised in this issue, regarding 1) What are the main influences of the formation of the recent Acehs spatial plan? 2) What is the impact of this

Ibid Pedsalabkaew, Ruayrin. Destiny of Acehs Forests under Weak Indonesian Forest Laws. Prachatai. October 19 2013 7 Ibid 8 Rudi Putra, The Plan to Kill Orangutans (Online), Avaaz, May 8 2013, <> 9 Stig Traviik, Ambassador Replies to Petition for Saving Acehs Forest, Embassy of Norway for Indonesia, May 14 2013
5 6

spatial plan implementation towards local people of Aceh? And last, 3) what are the forms of resistance that have been carried out by civil society in countering the spatial plan? Based on these three questions, the research would then be addressed best by putting environment on the conceptual framework of political ecology in third world. According to Raymond L. Bryant and Sinad Bailey on their book Third World Political Ecology, there are three main assumptions which should be understood in the context of political ecology in third world which are: 1. Costs and benefits associated with environmental change are distributed unequally. Changes in the environment do not affect society in a homogenous way: political, social, and economic differences account for uneven distribution of costs and benefits10. 2. Second, this unequal distribution inevitably reinforces or reduces existing social and economic inequalities. In this assumption, political ecology runs into inherent political economies as any change in environmental conditions must affect the political and economic status quo.11 3. Third, the unequal distribution of costs and benefits and the reinforcing or reducing of pre-existing inequalities holds political implications in terms of the altered power relationships that now result.12 Bryant and Bailey also pointed out three dimensions of politicized environment; everyday, episodic, and systemic13. These dimensions are classified based on the issues relation physical changes, the rate of impact, and the nature of the human impact, the political response and key concepts. The Aceh Spatial Plan mainly covers the issue of deforestation; therefore it can be classified in the dimension of everyday. The everyday dimension involves physical changes that simultaneously derive from day-to-day human practices and unequally affect those same practices on a daily basis.

Raymond L. Bryant and Sinead Bailey, Third World Political Ecology, Routledge, London, 1997, p. 27 Bryant and Bailey, op. cit., p. 27-28 12 op. cit., p. 28 13 Op.cit., p. 28-29
10 11

The formation of Aceh 2012-2032 Spatial Plan = Aceh Deforestation Plan The recent Aceh spatial plan was first initiated in 2012 by The Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah who proposed a plan to change land and forest use in many areas in Aceh. The change of forest use mainly aims to change protected forest into production forest. There are many versions of the width of the area which will be converted; at first there was a big protest claiming that the governor would wipe out 1, 2 million hectares of forest, but then it was straightened out by the governor in a meeting between Acehs government officials, NGO, and Ambassador of Norway. The governor said that the info was misleading since it was based on 2010 proposal which was not approved, and the real proposed number was not as big as many have claimed. The authentic proposal revealed that there are three main plans which will be established soon14, if approved, which are: 1. The conversion of 119, 202 hectares of protected and production forest into other utilization area/non-forest area. 2. The conversion of 174,056 hectares of preserved forest, conservation forest, and protected forest, into production forest. 3. The establishment of new forest area for around 31,000 hectares Also from the proposal, there are some critical points worthy of note in understanding the spatial plan of Aceh. First, the proposal aimed to clear out 32% of the remaining reserved forest, from 119,310 hectares into only 81,177 hectares. Second, the proposal aims to reduce the area of protected forest by 4%, from 1,844,000 hectares into 1,770,729 hectares. Third, the proposal also stated to widen the area of limited production forest into more than twice as big as the current area of limited production forest, which is from 37,300 hectares into 79,718 hectares. All these calculations are based on the provincial decree of SK 170/Kpts-II/2000. The proposal clearly stated many plans to clear out either conservation, reserved, or protection forest into production forest. Moreover, there are also plans to change forest for flora and fauna conservation into forest tourism area open for public. Although the plan also stated they would establish new forest area, but compared to the forest clearance, the size is insignificant. The plan to change the utilization of forest is ten times bigger than the plan to establish new forest area.

Presentation by The Governor of Aceh, loc. Cit.,

Economical and Political Interests is Driving the Formation of the Spatial Plan Martunis Muhammad, The Chair of BAPPEDAs Finance and Investation Department stated that this proposed spatial plan is mostly aimed to accommodate the increasing area of housing and infrastructure, since population has grown pretty rapidly in Aceh, thus the current spatial plan needs to be improved to meet the needs of population growth and land use in Aceh15. Governor Zaini Abdullah also reminded that Aceh was very devastated by the 2004 tsunami hit, and the spatial plan is for the sake of development in Aceh. There arent any roads in central Aceh, he said16. But of course it would be careless to think that these changes are purely for the noble sake of society, for we cannot deny the fact that behind any natural resource rich region, there are always strong forces of economical interest lingering around it, and Aceh is no exception. Many green environmentalists argued that the background behind the formation of the spatial plan was not as delightful as it sounds, because there are just too many converts to production forest. They claimed that compared to the industrial scheme, the plan for settlement and housing is much more undersized. There are plan to clear five blocks of forest covering a total area of 21,311 hectares for timber17, and many other areas will then be opened for plantations, mining and other large scale extractive industries. Additionally, according to Indonesias Master Plan on The Expansion and Acceleration of Economical Development (MP3I), Aceh is targeted as the potential area of palm oil plantation and mining exploration18. A spoke person of a large scale mining industry, East Asia Minerals, said that it was positive news to hear the spatial planning proposed because it would open more area to be

Sara Scondhart, In Indonesia, Environmentalists See a Disaster in the Making (Online), The New York Times, October 11 2013 <> 16 Nadya Natahadibrata, Aceh defends deforestation (Online), The Jakarta Post, May 23 2013 <> 17 Chris Lang, Indonesia: Governor of Aceh Puts Forests Under Threat (Online), REDD-Monitor, February 13 2013 18 Masterplan: Percepatan dan Perluasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Indonesia 2011-2025 (Online), Ministry of Economic Coordination, 2011, <>

explored19. Moreover, it was positive that this corporation has hired an ex-Indonesian high rank official, Fadel Muhammad, to help them to lobby the corporations interest into the governments spatial plan20. Fadel Muhammad was the former Minister of Marine and Fisheries of Indonesia. Edward Rochette, CEO of East Asia Minerals stated that Fadel was hired to provide a very valuable help in order to ease their projects in Indonesia, so that those projects can run according to the arranged strategies and schedule21. This shows that the formulation of the spatial plan is not very healthy, in which foreign corporations are intervening and driving local policy. It also seems that the regional autonomy, which was given to Aceh in 2005, may also be the factor in driving deforestation in Aceh. Having the autonomy, mayors or governors are given the space to manage their own internal affairs give forest concessions to corporations, to issue permits related to economic activity which of course can ease out forest management in both positive and negative way, according to their control. But a recent study by Greenomics determined that nationally unauthorized permits meaning that these permits were issued by local officials without approval at the national level for mining and palm oil plantations have affected more than 520,000 hectares or 30% of protected forest in Aceh22. There are also rumors spreading that the recent spatial plan proposal was a form of givingin-return for the investors who have helped finance the election campaign of Governor Zaini Abdulah in 2012. He was supported by Aceh Party (Partai Aceh) which acquired financial support from Prabowo Subianto. Prabowo himself owns a logging company in Aceh named PT. Tusam Hutan Lestari, and either by coincidence or not, the Aceh government is about to give back their forest concession permission which was previously suspended by the former governor Irwan Yusuf23. From this example it can be seen that there is a possibility where the spatial plan
France-Presse, Agence. Indonesia Moves Towards Approving Deforestation Plan in Aceh (Online). Jakarta Globe. April 19, 2013. 20 Aji Wihardandi, East Asia Minerals Sewa Mantan Pejabat RI Untuk Mengubah Rencana Tata Ruang Pemerintah Aceh (Online), Mongabay Indonesia, April 19 2013, <> 21 Ibid 22 Scondhart, loc. cit., 23 Dian Rahmat Syahputra, Hutan Aceh Korban Kesepakatan Politik, July 28 2013 <>

of Aceh, which aim to convert many areas of protected forest into production forest, is a form of political gesture acted by the governor as gratification towards the investors who have helped finance his campaign. More Natural and Human-Made Disasters, Crops Failure, Human-Animal Conflicts are Foreseen as The Implications of The Spatial Plan Acehs Spatial Plan is very potential to trigger man-made disaster because these forests are very functional to control the climate equilibrium24. Leuser National Park, a part included in the spatial plan, acts as a life support for approximately four million people living around it by providing a steady supply of water, soil fertility, flood control, climate regulation and pest mitigation. But under the changing of climate and the ongoing deforestation, the reduction of forest area will be more likely to trigger floods, droughts, and landslides. When this happens, human lives, especially people living in those areas are at stakes. Those kind of disasters have been hitting Aceh in the last five years; in February 2013 Aceh was struck by a massive flood in Pidie, Northern Aceh, which has been a recurrent flood happening almost every year25. Flood, not only dangerous for lives and properties, is also dangerous for crops. Many flood cases in Aceh have lead into crop failures because the flood has swamped all around the paddy field26 and caused scarcity of food. Aside than disasters, environmentalists are also afraid that the newly formulated spatial plan will be a big threat for many floras and faunas living in the edge of extinction in that forest. The Leuser National Park covers an area of 2.6 million hectares and is a crucially important area of forest, houses 54 per cent of Asia's fauna including tigers, orang-utans, rhinos, elephants, and clouded leopard27. This spatial plan can lead to habitat loss and fragmentation; decreasing the livelihood of these endangered animals.

Pedsalabkaew, Ruayrin. Destiny of Acehs Forests under Weak Indonesian Forest Laws (Online). Prachatai. October 19 2013 25 Hotli Sumandjutak, Deforestation Main Cause of Recurring Floods in Aceh (Online), The Jakarta Post, December 5 2008, <> 26Asnawi Khaddaf (ed), Banjir di Aceh Selatan Rusak 410 Ha Tanaman Pertanian (Online), MetroTV News, May 16 2013 <> 27 ibid

In 2008 there were cases of tigers killing calves in Eastern Aceh 28, in 2011 there were cases of elephants trampling palm oil plantations in Southern Aceh29, in August 2013 there was a case of elephants trampling villagers in Pidie, and in some cases the victims could not be saved. As what Ian Kosasih, WWFs forest program director, said, In places like Aceh, conflict between humans and elephants and humans and tigers is increasing. Although there are no solid figures on how many conflicts are happening throughout Indonesia. In some areas you cant say its increasing but its still there. Im sure its not getting better anywhere.30 Deforestation is mainly the cause of animals habitat loss, when more people move into previously virgin forests, whether for settling or extracting resources, large animals such as elephants, tigers and orangutans are being deprived of their habitats. These animals naturally feel the need to sustain their populations, with lack of living space these animals sometimes move in to newly settled areas at the outer layer of the forest, trampling and eating crops and sometimes terrorizing villagers with deadly results. Resistance from Grass-root Organization and International Advocacy Organization Having explained the background, motives, and implications of the spatial plan, it is reasonable to state that this policy may be an advantage to development, but on the other side may also be disadvantageous in the long term, to the development itself, to the nature, and to the people in Aceh. This notion then has awakened many environmental NGOs to take action to reject and prevent this spatial plan. The NGOs who are working to prevent the implementation of Acehs spatial planning is seeking political influence through publicized campaigns, mostly through media, to raise public
Ranto Peureulak, Harimau dan Gajah Mengamuk di Aceh (Online), Waspada Online, February 6 2008, <> 29 Yudie Thirzano (ed), Gajah Mengamuk di Aceh Tiga Ha Kebun Sawit Dirusak (Online), TribunNews, August 14 2008, <> 30 redOrbit, Deforestation Brings Humans and Wild Animals Together (Online), January 2009 < er/>

and international awareness on this issue. The NGOs which are standing against the spatial plan can be divided into two, grassroots organization (GO) and international advocacy organization (AO), according to Bryan and Baileys classification of environmental NGO31. The grass-root organization, such as Koalisi Peduli Hutan Aceh

What to do? 1. Jelasin siapa aja yang terlibat dalam penolakan spatial planning? 2. Bagaimana strategi masing2 aktor dalam menolak spatial planning ini? 3. Simpulkan apa yang sudah dilakukan dan apa yang belom dilakukan


Bryant and Bailey, op. cit., p. 130