JAKARTA – (AFP) – Indonesia’s Aceh province revoked a permit from a palm oil company found to be logging illegally, a spokesman said Friday, in a case seen as a test of the nation’s commitment to a deforestation ban.
The Indonesian palm oil company Kallista Alam was accused of clearing 1,605 hectares (3,966 acres) of protected carbon-rich peatland on the island of Sumatra, where tropical rainforests have fallen to rampant logging.
“We revoked Kallista Alam’s permit on Thursday. The Aceh government has gone through a long process of evaluation and found the company’s logging permit was illegal,” Aceh government spokesman Makmur Ibrahim told AFP.
Former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf issued the permit more than three months after Indonesia implemented a two-year moratorium on logging peatland and other high-conservation-value forests in May 2011.
The ban is the centrepiece of a $1 billion bilateral agreement with Norway aimed at significantly reducing Indonesia’s carbon emissions.
The court decision to revoke the permit earlier this month came after intense campaigning by environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth Indonesia (Walhi).
“We hope this is the beginning of a cleaner more transparent process to forestry in Indonesia’s future,” Walhi national executive director Abet Nego said.
The land cleared was in the Tripa peatswamp, an area measuring over 60,000 hectares with the highest density of critically endangered orangutans in the world, according to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest palm oil producer and growing demand has put pressure on the nation’s already threatened tropical rainforests.
Before Indonesia’s logging moratorium, 80 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions came from deforestation, UN data showed, making it the one of the world’s top emitters.