Jakarta, 15 February 2019 – As early forest fires spread this week on the island of Sumatra  a new Greenpeace analysis into official data from the government of Indonesia shows companies have failed to pay US$1.3 billion for damage caused by fires and forest destruction.[1]

“As citizens, if we don’t pay our taxes we get sent to prison. So why aren’t the owners of these big companies being forced to pay what they owe or sent to prison if they don’t pay?” said Arie Rompas, team leader with Greenpeace’s Indonesia forests campaign.

Greenpeace analysed eleven cases from 2012 to 2018 where the government has stated that compensation payments are owed by companies. All were civil law cases taken by the government, resulting in court-ordered compensation totalling almost 19 trillion Indonesian rupiah (US$1.3 billion).[2] However, not one of these forests cases has resulted in compensation being paid.

Ten of the eleven cases, which were all lodged between 2012-2015, are against plantation companies (palm oil, sago and pulp) and relate to forest fires, for which 2.7 trillion rupiah compensation was ordered. The eleventh and largest compensation case at 16.2 trillion rupiah relates to illegal logging which was carried out from 2004 by timber company Merbau Pelalawan Lestari.

One of the forest fires cases, from 2014, is against BMH, a supplier to Asia Pulp and Paper, Indonesia’s largest pulp company. The BMH concession, located in South Sumatra, burned again in some of the worst forest fires of 2015.

In 2015, devastating blazes spread in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. These fires produced a haze that affected millions of people across Southeast Asia. The World Bank estimates that these fires cost Indonesia $16bn in losses to forestry, agriculture, tourism and other industries. The haze sickened hundreds of thousands across the region.[3] Until today not one company has paid compensation for their role in this catastrophe.

“This is money owed to the Indonesian people that could pay for large scale forest restoration or even for health and emergency infrastructure for when the fires strike again. By not forcing these companies to pay the government is sending a dangerous message: company profit comes before law, clean air, health and forest protection”, said Arie.

Carbon emissions released from damaged forests and burned peat have become Indonesia’s biggest contribution to climate change, with deadly effect.[4] In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for an immediate end to deforestation to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C.

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Photos are available here

Drone footage available here

NOTES

[1] A background briefing paper with further analysis and details of all these cases is available on request to the contacts below. The companies are as follows:

Company

Reason for case

Amount owed (Indonesian rupiah)

PT Kallista Alam

Forest Fires

366 billion

PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa

Forest Fires

491 billion

PT Waringin Agro Jaya

Forest Fires

466.5 billion

PT Waimusi Agroindah

Forest Fires

29.6 billion

PT Bumi Mekar Hijau

Forest Fires

78.5 billion

PT National Sago Prima

Forest Fires

1.070 trillion

PT Ricky Kurniawan Kertapersada

Forest Fires

191 billion

PT Palmina Utama

Forest Fires

22.3 billion

PT Agro Tumbuh Gemilang Abadi

Forest Fires

N/A as still in appeal process

PT Surya Panen Subur

Forest Fires

N/A as still in appeal process

PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari

Illegal logging

16.245 trillion

Total

18.959 trillion

[2] Civil court cases and compensation claims are one of a number of administrative sanctions that the Indonesian Government uses to enforce its laws and to act as a deterrent. Other sanctions include warning letters, license freezes or license removal The relevant civil court cases are listed on page 18 of KLHK report ‘Capaian Gakkum 2017 http://gakkum.menlhk.go.id/compro/docs/CapaianGakkum2017.pdf

[3] Researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities estimate that the smoke from 2015 Indonesian fires may have caused 100,000 premature deaths.

[4] Deforestation and peatland destruction are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. This has pushed Indonesia into the top tier of global emitters, alongside the United States of America and China.

Contacts

Igor O’Neill, Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest campaign, ioneill@greenpeace.org, +62 877 32606434

Sol Gosetti, International Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest campaign, sol.gosetti@greenpeace.org, +44 (0) 7380845754