PRESS RELEASE Environmental Crimes and Human Rights Violations by PT. TPL Findings of non-compliance with PT. Sustainable Forest Production Certification Standards (S-PHL) TPL

PRESS RELEASE Environmental Crimes and Human Rights Violations by PT. TPL Findings of non-compliance with PT. Sustainable Forest Production Certification Standards (S-PHL) TPL

Medan, 18th November 2021.

Deforestation in Indonesia is largely the result of a corrupt political and economic system, which regards Natural Resources, particularly forests, as a source of income that can be exploited for political gain and corporate gain.

In North Sumatra, there is a PT. TPL company has been practicing deforestation for decades, which has given rise to various kinds of polemics, one of which is the practice of large-scale land-use experts in the Tele landscape area. Tele-scape has a very important ecological function for the Lake Toba area. The last forest area that must be saved from the threat of PT. TPL, it is clear because the Tele forest area is the remaining natural forest in the Lake Toba area. Bentang Tele is facing a threat from the existence of PT.TPL’s concession area of 68,000 Ha. The Tele landscape forest area has a livelihood function for dozens of villages in the Tele forest area.

The findings of the Walhi Sumut recorded the capture of sentinel imagery in 2016, the presence of PT. TPL caused at least 20,000 ha of forest cover to be lost in the Tele landscape. Walhi Sumut also noted that the sentinel image capture in 2020, the presence of PT. TPL caused at least 22,000 forest covers to be lost in the Tele landscape. Looking at the rate of deforestation of forest areas in the Lake Toba area, PT. TPL contributed to the destruction of 4000 hectares of protected forest areas, and 18.000 hectares of production forest areas in the Tele landscape forest area. Based on Law No. 41 of 1999 Article 1 Paragraph 8 “Protection Forest is a forest area that has the main function as protection of life support systems to regulate water systems, prevent flooding, control erosion, prevent seawater intrusion and maintain soil fertility” the practice of destroying forest areas The protection carried out by TPL in the Tele landscape is a strong indication that PT. PT.TPL has violated the law, and the government must evaluate and implement strict law enforcement against environmental crimes committed by PT. TPL, “said Roi Lumbangaol Deputy I Advocacy and WALHI North Sumatra Campaign.

Based on the topographical conditions, most of the Lake Toba catchment area has a gentle to very steep slope which covers an area of 142,745 hectares or occupies about 55% of the Lake Toba catchment area. Such topographic conditions will reduce alternative land use options because inappropriate land use will increase the velocity of surface runoff so that the resulting erosion will be higher. This condition requires very serious handling through forest and land rehabilitation efforts accompanied by soil and water conservation techniques to reduce the level of erosion hazard in the Lake Toba catchment area as a result of the investigation by Aman Tano Batak, Samuel Purba.

PT. TPL planted in the Protected Forest area in its concession. The area that was supposed to be protected was turned by PT. TPL into a production area. It was found that there were eucalyptus plantations close to natural forest plants. The 2021 investigation team by KSPPM and Jikalahari found that TPL had planted eucalyptus about 318 meters from the logging distance in 2017. This means that the eucalyptus plants found by the 2021 Investigation team were used as natural wood that was felled by PT. TPL. The results of the GIS overlay also record the Forest Utilization Business Licensing (PBPH) or PT. TPL IUPHHKHT area with a forest area function showing that PT. TPL’s area is in the Protected Forest (HL) area of 11,582.22 hectares, Permanent Production Forest (HP) of 122,368.91 hectares, Limited Production Forest (HPT) 12,017.43 hectares, Convertible Production Forest (HPK) 1.9 hectares and Other Use Areas (APL) 21,917.59 hectares. From the extent of the permit or legality of PT. TPL covering an area of 188,055 hectares, at least 28 percent or 52,668.66 hectares is illegal because it is located above HL, HPK, and APL.

Since the beginning, the presence of this company has caused many problems, especially related to the seizure of the living space of the indigenous people in Tano Batak. Currently, TPL has a concession area of around 167,912 hectares in North Sumatra. From AMAN Tano Batak data to date, there are around 37,500 hectares of customary areas from 21 indigenous communities that overlap with the concession area,” said Samuel Purba from AMAN Tano Batak. “These conflicts often lead to intimidation and criminalization of members of indigenous people who struggle to defend their customary territories. The government has so far not been serious in issuing policies that favor Indigenous Peoples through the presence of laws and regional regulations related to the recognition and protection of the community,” he added later.

In line with this, Juniaty Aritonang, Coordinator of Study & Advocacy of BAKUMSU, said that after the re-operation in 2002, PT. TPL has spawned a series of incidents of violence, criminalization, and discrimination against legal rights. The series of violence, criminalization and legal discrimination is in line with the increasingly complex and widespread structural problems caused by the presence of PT TPL. As many as 93 people were recorded as direct victims of criminalization due to the existence of PT. TPL. Of the total victims, 40 people were brought to court in which 39 cases were found guilty, and only 1 person was declared acquitted by the panel of judges because he was not proven guilty. The rest, as many as 47 are declared suspects, and 6 others are reported. In the presence of PT. TPL, it is believed that acts of violence, criminalization and legal discrimination against indigenous and local communities have occurred sporadically in various concession areas PT. TPL is located in ”.

Deden Pramudiana, a campaigner for the Independent Forestry Monitoring Network (JPIK), emphasized that”human rights violations that occurred were caused by the absence of boundaries, to the confiscation of incense forests which resulted in the loss of livelihoods for indigenous people”. The results of field monitoring and analysis of certificates in the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) scheme, it was found that PT. TPL had committed violations or non-compliance. However, in the resume of surveillance results by PT. Ayamaru Certification, PT. TPL got a GOOD score because it already has complete legal and administrative documents for boundary demarcation by the level of realization of the implementation of the boundary demarcation that has been carried out, and has developed a conflict resolution mechanism. However, in reality, conflicts due to boundary demarcation are still happening today, so this shows that there is a discrepancy in the GOOD Value given by PT. Ayamaru to PT. TPL. In addition, PT. TPL carries out logging and eucalyptus planting practices in protected areas in its concession, such as river borders and green belts. Deden Pramudiana said, “PT. TPL does not meet (noncompliance) the prerequisite aspects, as regulated in the Sustainable Forest Production Certification (S-PHL) standard where this aspect is the core and most influential, so that violations / non-compliance with these prerequisite aspects indicate that the -other aspects such as ecological aspects, production aspects, and social aspects are also problematic, so the certificate deserves to be revoked”. In addition to poor forest management practices by PT. TPL, in its downstream industry, PT. TPL in the 2006-2016 period was suspected of manipulating taxes for exports to Macau, China on pulp and paper raw material products (Report of the Fair Tax Forum). JPIK together with the Just Tax Forum has reported allegations of export tax evasion and falsification of PT. TPL’s Industrial HS-code to the timber certification agency, PT. SGS, in the hope that PT. TPL’s Timber Legality Certificate (S-LK) will be revoked, concluded Deden Pramudiana.

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