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Bogor, March 11, 2014. Sugar cane plantations covering an area of 480 thousand ha are planned to be opened above a total of 770 thousand ha of Aru island land. This discourse is very threatening to the existence of around 730 thousand ha of natural forest found in the Aru Islands.

Since the beginning of 2010 Aru Islands Regent Teddy Tengko has issued Principle Permits, Location Permits, and Recommendations for the Release of Forest Areas totaling 480 thousand ha for 28 companies that all under the flag of PT. Menara Group, a national private company in the plantation sector. The Aru Regent’s policy was strengthened by the Governor of Maluku at that time Karel Albert Ralahalu through a Recommendation Letter on the Release of Forest Areas submitted in July 2011.

The results of the search for Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) for the 2009-2028 Aru District Spatial Planning (RTRWK) found that 76% of the land from 28 companies under PT Menara Group were still natural forests.

Indications of violations are suspected to have occurred when the company already had a Plantation Business Permit (SIUP) before pocketing an Environmental Permit (SIL). Although not implementing Law No. 32/2009 concerning Protection and Management of the Environment, it is now recorded that 19 of the 28 companies that applied for sugarcane plantation licenses have obtained the Principle Approval of Forest Area Reserves from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

“The documents issued related to this permit are indicated not in accordance with Law No. 32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management and Law No. 26/2007, fifth point concerning Spatial Planning,” said Abu Meridian, FWI Campaign Coordinator in his press statement.

The conversion of forest area functions into sugar cane plantations, will certainly directly affect the loss of habitat for living places of various types of animals endemic to the wallacea region typical of the Aru islands. Endemic animals such as cendawasih (Paradisaea apoda), tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus sp), black cockatoos (Prebosciger aterrimus), yellow-crested aru cockatoos (Cacatua galerita eleonora), cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) ever written in hundreds of pages by Alfred R. Wallace a hundred fifty years ago in the book “The Malay Archipelago”, it will certainly lose its habitat.

“If the Menara Group continues the plan to open sugar cane plantations and continues to convert natural forests on a large scale, it can be ascertained that biodiversity both on land and in the waters of the Aru Islands will be extinct,” Abu added.

Large-scale land clearing will also have an impact on the social existence of local communities and indigenous people who have generations to inhabit and live in the Aru Islands region.

“Company concessions will directly take community rights to their customary territories. The livelihoods of local people who depend closely on the potential of nature will disappear quickly. “The Maluku regional government through its land clearing plan has denied various potential sectors such as fisheries and maritime affairs which so far have been the main force for the development of the Maluku community,” Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN) explained in his press statement.

Note to Editor:

1) Aru Islands Regency is an archipelago district located on the southeastern side of Maluku Province, directly adjacent to Australia in the Arafura Sea. The district consists of around 187 islands, with 89 of them inhabited. Forest cover of 730 thousand hectares in the Aru Islands forest cover is equivalent to 12 times the land area of ​​Singapore.

2) Based on the Final Draft Report of the Aru Islands Regional Spatial Plan published in 2008, the land cover conditions in 2006 are presented as follows:

NoLand CoverArea (ha)%

3Swamp Forest18.077,26
5Dryland Agriculture3.182,20
8Open Land31.045,96
9Water Body24,41
TOTAL AREA798.617,54 100,000  

Source: BAPPEDA Aru Islands Regency, Processing of ETM7 Landsat Images + Coverage in 2006.

3) In 2011 the Aru Regent Teddy Tengko was caught in a corruption case in the Aru Islands Regional Budget and is currently being held at the Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung.

4) According to the Regional Government (Pemda) of the Aru Islands Regency, in 2006 fishery production in the Aru Islands reached 19,937.20 tons per year (equivalent to Rp71 billion). While in coastal areas, Aru has long been a pearl cultivation area for dozens of domestic and foreign companies. In 1969 a Japanese company invested US $ 1 million in pearl shell cultivation in Fatujuring, Aru Islands. Source: ‘Lose People’ (Insist, 2004)

5) Forest Watch Indonesia, abbreviated as FWI, is an independent forest monitoring network organization consisting of individuals and organizations that are committed to realizing an open process of forestry data and information management in Indonesia and can ensure equitable and sustainable management of forest resources . One of FWI’s activities also carried out campaigns and monitoring related to forest damage and crimes in the forestry sector.

5) AMAN Nusantara Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN) is an independent community organization (ORMA) whose members consist of communities of Indigenous Peoples from various corners of the archipelago.


Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI)
Phone / Fax: +62251 8333308 / +62 251 8317926
Speaker: FWI Campaign Manager, Abu Meridian (Email: Mobile: +6285715766732)

Contact: Mufti Ode (email: HP: +6285693050205)

Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)

Phone / Fax: +62 8297954/83706282
Speaker: AMAN Secretary General, Abdon Nababan (Email:; Mobile: +62811111365)

Contact: Firdaus Cahyadi (Email: Mobile: +6281513275 698)

For map and photo needs, please contact:
Mufti Ode (email: HP: +6285693050205)