The Government Says Deforestation Has Decreased, What Do Environmental Organizations Say?

Environmental Organizations

“You have to look specifically at the depreciation of natural forests, apart from the depreciation and planting of plantation forests,” said Nadia Hadad, Executive Director of the Sustainable Madani Foundation, in a recent release to the media.

He said, different from monoculture plantation forests, they only produce limited ecosystem services. Natural forests, he said, have many critical roles for life.

“That’s logic wrong. HTI is not the same as natural forest,” said Uli Arta Siagian, Walhi’s National Executive Forest and Garden Campaign Manager.

Nadia also called on the government to disclose data on loss of natural forest in permit and concession areas. This is because the Madami Berkesusan study related to deforestation for the 2020-2021 period found secondary natural forest types to be the most vulnerable to deforestation.

Not to mention, the loss of natural forest due to national strategic projects (PSN) such as food estates needs further criticism. This is because Madami’s study found around 2,000 hectares of natural forest lost in the area of ​​interest in the food state for the 2020-2021 period .

Forest for people or corporations?

Indigenous people and local communities, he said, know how to take good care of nature for generations.

Referring to the 2023 Indigenous Territory Registration Agency ( BRWA ) data, only 3,206,703 hectares of the 25.1 million hectares of customary territories that already have participatory mapping have received recognition status from the local government. Walhi also noted that in 2021 the people’s management area they are fostering is only 1,040,659 hectares.

This little recognition of community forests is seen as lame compared to the existing deforestation quota that the government has prepared for 325,000 hectares per year from 2020-2030 as stated in the   latest nationally determined contributions (NDC) document. This figure, he said, could increase to 820,000 hectares per year if we still practice business as usual .

Uli said, the deforestation quota until 2030 is only to meet corporate needs.

Ruandha A Sugardiman, Plt. The Director General of Forestry Planning and Environmental Management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said in an online media briefing that the condition of forest and land cover is dynamic, in line with the need for land for development and other activities.

Take care of the remaining forest

Even though it can halt the rate of deforestation, the government still has a big homework to do in protecting the remaining natural forests. Approximately 9.7 million natural forests outside permits or concessions, moratorium areas and areas reserved for social forestry.

Half of the unprotected natural forest, he said, is included in the forest utilization directive map (PAPH) for granting business permits for new forest utilization.

The government’s task is to ensure that permits issued are not for the use of wood, but only for environmental services and non-timber forest products.

In addition, because there are so many large-scale companies controlling natural forests, said Nadia, the government must prioritize forest management for the community.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s presentation also stated that the area of ​​forested land throughout Indonesia is around 96 million hectares or 51.2% of the total land area. About 92% or 88.3 million of the forested land is in forest areas.

“It’s not true to say that our forests are gone, because there are still 51.2% of our land forested,” said Belinda A Margono, Director of Forest Resources Inventory and Monitoring of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

There are also reforestation actions in the 2021-2022 period which can produce a forested area of ​​15,416 hectares so that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry can report net deforestation of 104,000 hectares.

Nonetheless, Walhi assesses that there is still deforestation as a matter that shows Indonesia’s climate commitment is still weak. Supposedly, deforestation in Indonesia should not exist at all.

The Difficulty of Maintaining Sovereignty and Sovereign Rights of the State in the North Natuna Sea

The territorial waters of Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the North Natuna Sea remain the prima donna of foreign ships to carry out illegal actions. Not only stealing fish, unlawful acts are also carried out by transshipment of ships.

The activity of transferring the ship’s cargo was carried out by the Iranian-flagged super tanker MT Arman 114 on Friday (7/7/2023). The ship carried out a transshipment in the form of crude oil to another super tanker with the Cameroon flag, MT S Tinos.

The two tankers disobeyed the warnings from the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) and continued to move away from Indonesia’s EEZ while continuing to carry out ship-to-ship oil transfers . In addition, Bakamla also detected dumping of waste oil into the sea from the two ships in Indonesia’s EEZ.

The party that succeeded in thwarting this illegal action was none other than Bakamla RI. The Indonesian coast guard agency made the arrest, because there were allegations of violations of Indonesian law.

Some of these violations include not turning on and tricking the automatic identification system ( AIS ) in ZEEI (AIS spoofing ); and transferring cargo in the form of crude oil in the middle of the sea illegally ( illegal transhipment at sea ), as well as polluting the Indonesian seas ( dumping ).

Then, the ship also does not fly the national flag; has no port clearance ; and disobeying law enforcement officials, because the two ships did not stop even though they had been warned several times by the State Ship (KN) Marore Island 322 belonging to Bakamla.

The dramatic action taken by Bakamla RI is deemed worthy of appreciation from many parties. This effort is a form of preventing the sea from all pollution caused by dumping activities.

Appreciation of Assertiveness

The Indonesian Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI) institution expressly and straightforwardly appreciates the success of Bakamla RI. According to IOJI CEO Mas Achmad Santosa, the threat of dumping will continue to exist and become a challenge in Indonesian territorial waters and jurisdictions.

He explained that the pursuit and arrest of the MT Arman 114 ship could be categorized as Indonesia’s steps as a coastal country in exercising jurisdiction over the protection and preservation of the marine environment in the EEZ in accordance with Article 56 paragraph (1) point c UNCLOS 1982.

This transshipment case also explains that the general obligation to protect the sea is imperative by adopting and enforcing regulations and national policies in the context of preventing, reducing and controlling marine pollution due to dumping. This also applies to Indonesia’s EEZ, as regulated in Articles 210 and 216 of UNCLOS.

Santosa explained, from this case another important lesson could be learned that international cooperation plays a very important role in efforts to maintain the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the state over Indonesia’s territorial waters and jurisdiction.

Strictly speaking, the MT Arman 114 ship which was operating in Indonesia’s EEZ was captured because of a cooperative role with the Malaysian Maritime Strengthening Agency (APMM). This collaboration provides additional strength when Bakamla carries out the hot pursuit process . This activity refers to Article 111 UNCLOS 1982 concerning the Right of Hot Pursuit.

Thanks to the collaboration with APMM, the MT Arman 114 ship was quickly captured and controlled by APMM which was then handed over to Bakamla RI for legal processing in accordance with the provisions of national legislation in force in Indonesia.

Based on Article 16 paragraph (3) of Law Number 5 of 1983 concerning the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) jo. Article 104 of Law No.32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection Management (PPLH) as last amended by Law No.6/2023 concerning Job Creation, the act of dumping into the sea, including EEZ, without a permit is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of three years and a fine a maximum of IDR 3 billion.

Meanwhile, referring to Article 11 of the EEZ Law, the person in charge of the MT Arman 14 ship also has absolute responsibility and must pay for the rehabilitation of the marine environment immediately and in an adequate amount.

Instant Pursuit

Regarding the hot pursuit action carried out by KN Marore Island 322 belonging to Bakamla RI, IOJI explained that it was the right step referring to Article 111 (2), (4) and (5) UNCLOS 1982.

The hot pursuit was carried out by KN Marore Island 322 which clearly had a mark and was identified as a Indonesian Government ship.

Considering that when the hot pursuit process was carried out, the MT Arman 114 ship had already entered Malaysia’s EEZ, the process was then continued by the APMM ship with ongoing coordination under the leadership of KN Pulau Marore 322.

With the full authority that APMM has in the Malaysian EEZ waters, the pursuit process becomes more flexible and arrests can be quickly made to the MT Arman 114 ship. Furthermore, the captured ship was handed over to KN Pulau Marore 322.

IOJI then added, based on drones owned by Bakamla RI, the MT Arman 114 and the MT S Tinos ships which were proven to have transshipped , continued to flee even though they were already being chased by KN Marore Island 322 .

In addition, based on the results of the flying camera, the two ships were also proven to be actively dumping intentionally into Indonesian EEZ waters. This activity is illegal, because it is carried out without the approval of the coastal state that owns the waters.

The prohibited status refers to Article 210 Paragraph 5 UNCLOS 1982 which confirms that dumping may not be carried out if the coastal state does not give its approval in the initial process. Then, Article 216 also obliges the coastal state to enforce national laws related to sea pollution due to dumping , including in the EEZ area.

The Head of Bakamla RI, Aan Kurnia, on a different occasion explained, after receiving information on the alleged transshipment by two foreign-flagged ships in ZEEI in the North Natuna Sea, the inspection was carried out directly by KN Marore Island 322.

As expected, the two ships were caught red-handed carrying out a crude oil transshipment and both did not respond to communications from KN Marore Island 322. In fact, the two ships tried to avoid the inspection process by running away while the hoses were still attached, and the transshipment process was still ongoing.

Aan Kurnia explained, when the stop attempt was made, the two ships carried out a break away maneuver to complicate pursuit. At that time, MT Arman 114 was moving northwest, while MT S Tinos was moving north.

These conditions made KN Pulau Marore 322 focus on pursuing MT Arman 114 which was strongly suspected of being a cargo or delivery ship. During this process, Bakamla RI worked closely with APMM.

After being caught, an investigation was carried out. As a result, it was found that the ship MT Arman 114 with the Iranian flag turned out to have an Egyptian captain and 28 crew members (ABK) with Syrian citizenship.

In addition, there were also three passengers without an explanation of their WN status. Then when searched, the ship was loaded with light crude oil ( LCO) with a volume of 272,569 metric tons. Based on the facts at the crime scene, it was found that the MT Arman 114 had committed an illegal act.

Indonesian laws and regulations that were violated, including Law No.5/1983 concerning Indonesia’s EEZ, Law No.17/2008 concerning Shipping and Legislation in the Field of Other Shipping, and Law No.32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management.

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