Indonesia: heavy fine for palm oil company for slash-and-burn

Aerial photograph of a burning rainforest More than 100 fires were set to the swamp forest of Tripa (© Courtesy of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP))

Jan 13, 2014

A court in the Aceh province in northern Sumatra sent a strong signal against the slashing and burning of rainforests: the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam has been sentenced to pay a fine of approximately 9 million US dollars as well as 21 million US dollars for reforestation of Tripa's destroyed swamp forest.

“This ruling sends out a clear message to all companies that think they can destroy protected forest and get away with it,” Muhammad Nur, head of the environmental organization WALHI Aceh, the Indonesian branch of Friends of the Earth, said.

Following pressure from national and international environmentalists, the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment had filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, which led to the ruling and the historically high penalty for illegal slash and burn in the protected Tripa forest. As part of the Leuser Ecosystem, the precious swamp forests are a national strategic zone for environmental protection, as well as a vital habitat of the remaining endangered Sumatran orangutans.

In spring of 2012, Rainforest Rescue took part in the campaign against the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam with 50,000 protest e-mails and 10,000 euros in donations.

The illegal activities of PT Kallista Alam were brought to the attention of the public as early as August 2011, when the then Governor of Aceh gave his approval to the company's 1,605-hectare palm oil plantation – in the middle of the legally protected Leuser Ecosystem.

At the instigation of WALHI, the court of justice in Medan ordered the now newly elected Governor of Aceh to withdraw the concession in August 2012.

In addition to the heavy fine and the compensation payment for the destroyed swamp forest of Tripa, the judges of the District Court of Meulaboh ordered PT Kallista Alam to return 5,769 hectares of land.

This is a great success for the rainforest and its inhabitants. With the help of your 50,000 signatures and 10,000 euros in donations, Rainforest Rescue was able to do its part in helping to win the crucial trial against the palm oil company.

You can also sign our current petition here:

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