Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Indonesia: encroachment-hit Tesso Nilo raged by fires as haze returns to Riau

Fires hotspots likely got its peak this month on Tuesday (27 August) seeing the 5th largest number of hotspots (758) recorded since 1 June this year, as 26% of that found inside the Tesso Nilo complex. In June this year, EoF published data on the Indonesia’s worst fire season in recent years with serious smoke choking the region and neighboring Singapore and southern Malaysia and published some field photos. After two months, many fires are happening in Riau again where schools closed and some flights canceled due to thick haze. Dust of fires also falls to the ground in Pekanbaru and some areas in the province.

NASA’s Firms Modis fire locations data recorded 4,134 hotspots in Sumatra between 1 and 27 August. 67% were recorded in Riau province (2,771 hotspots).

The Indonesian NGO network Eyes on the Forest compared NASA’s August fire hotspot data of Riau with the maps of Riau’s 2012 land covers, pulpwood concessions and protected areas published on EoF’s Google Earth interactive map as well as with Landsat images taken in August 2013.

The comparison only identifies the probable location of fires. Only burn scars visible on future satellite images may show where the fires actually burned and field investigations may reveal who actually started the fires.

Worst hit area is the Tesso Nilo forest complex with serious encroachment issues for oil palm plantation development. The complex, consisting of Tesso Nilo National Park and two selective logging concessions PT. Hutani Sola Lestari and PT. Siak Raya Timber concessions, had almost 20% (540) of Riau’s hotspots.

  • 775 (28%) hotspots showed inside pulpwood concessions, 362 in Asia Pulp & PAper related  concessions (Sinar Mas Group) and 324 in APRIL (Royal Golden Eagle). Some hotspots showed deep inside the concessions with Landsat images showing exposed soil, where either acacia or natural forest had been logged. 343 (12%) hotspots showed in areas with pulpwood plantation cover in 2012, but August 2013 satellite images suggest that some of the plantation had been harvested prior to fire.
  • 647 (23%) hotspots showed in what was natural forest in 2012, suggesting recent deforestation activities for whose “clean-up” these fires may have been started.
  • 352 (13%) hotspots showed in what 2012 satellite images indicate are well-managed large scale oil palm plantation areas. These areas likely overlap at least in part with concession boundaries of large oil palm companies available on Government web sites. EoF has not re-published these data because it has not yet verified them.
  • 687 (25%) hotspots showed in areas with fully exposed soil in 2012, 390 (14%) in cleared areas that had some vegetation in 2012 and 341 (12%) in areas with no natural forest consisting of various land covers which were not pulpwood or oil palm plantations in 2012.
  • 1,809 (65%) showed in peatlands, suggesting huge carbon emissions.

 See the EoF map 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Siak River pollution worsens, APP’s mill protested

EoF News (PEKANBARU)-People living in Siak riverside protested pulp mill belonging to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper, due to waste pollution caused by the mill for over nearly four months they have been suffering, media reports said.

The residents of Koto Gasib sub-district, Siak district, has complained several times to the company PT IKPP and Environmental Agency (BLH) of Siak but so far there has been no resolving conducted until the result of BLH’s lab examination is ready to be exposed to public. Whilst, the residents, whose lives depends on the river, has to deal with loss of job and disease threats.

Fauzi, resident of Sengkemang Village, Koto Gasib sub-district told media, “We are upset that the water conditions is getting worse and worse while there has been no mitigation signals so far”, as quoted on Riau Pos, July 19th 2013. Furthermore, Fauzi explained that the fishermen has lost their job since four months ago and the water is no longer good to be used for daily life as it starts to generate unpleasant smell.

Fauzi is not the only one who regrets associated agencies’ ignorance, but also the residents of four other villages who have restrained waiting for BLH’s examination result. However, as the water pollution worsens, their protests raged on July 7th 2013 by withstanding the company’s pontoons in Buatan II Dock.

Finally the protest by stopping PT IKPP’s pontoons halted by the community following mediation that led by the police to compromise the conflict. Residents agreed to wait for result of verification on waste pollution allegation.

Responding community’s complaint delivered during a meeting in Okura Village, Rumbai Pesisir sub-district of Pekanbaru, on July 25th, Pekanbaru Mayor Firdaus MT commanded BLH to recheck the river condition.

"BLH can go straight down to the field to monitor public complaints as it’s their duty. Seemingly, on the earlier observation the officers were tricked by the company. When the officers left, perhaps they throw the waste into the river," Firdaus added as quoted from, July 29th 2013.