Conservation News: Sumatrans to File Law Suit on Aceh Spatial Plan

A rescued male Sumatran orangutan learns to climb tree branches at the quarantine center of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program in Sumatra. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)
A rescued male Sumatran orangutan learns to climb tree branches at the quarantine center of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program in Sumatra. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

The Orangutan Conservancy has learned that citizens of Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra will be registering a class action law suit against the Minister of Home Affairs for failing to uphold its authority to include the Leuser Ecosystem in the currently illegal Aceh Provincial Spatial. This plan is deemed destructive and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of people living in Aceh as well as the future for wild orangutans that call the area home.

OC has reported extensively about the Spatial plan and the devastation that it will bring to Sumatra’s rainforest.

Gerakan Rakyat Aceh Menggugat (GeRAM) is an alliance of concerned citizens who have been fighting nearly 2 years since the Aceh Government legalised a new Spatial Land Use Plan that would effectively dissolve protection of much of Aceh’s remaining tropical rainforests, whitewashing crimes of the past, and paving the way for a new wave of catastrophic ecological destruction”, said one of the plaintiffs, Farwiza Farhan.

Nine plaintiffs from across Aceh traveled to Jakarta to register the case against Minister of Home Affairs for failing to act on its jurisdiction to cancel Aceh spatial plan as stated in Ministry of Home Affairs decree 650-441 year 2014. These plaintiffs are Effendi from Aceh Besar, Juarsyah from Bener Meriah, Abu Kari from Gayo Lues, Dahlan M. Isa from Lhokseumawe, Kamal Faisal from Aceh Tamiang, Muhammad Ansari Sidik from Aceh Tenggara, Sarbunis from Aceh Selatan, Najaruddin from Nagan Raya, and Farwiza from Banda Aceh.

Millions of people depend upon Aceh’s forests, in particular the Leuser Ecosystem, whose protection is required under several National Laws and is the last place on earth where critically endangered orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers can be found living together in the wild. This forest was recently ranked by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as one of the ‘World’s Most Irreplaceable Protected Areas’ in an article in the journal Science.

“The countless ecosystem services the Leuser Ecosystem provides serve as an irreplaceable life-support system for the people of Aceh and North Sumatra, providing clean water supplies for people, agriculture, fisheries and other industries in addition to water regulation, preventing environmental catastrophes such as flash floods and landslides that already kill people, devastate crops and infrastructure, and destroy livelihoods all too often in Aceh.” Dahlan M.Isa, the plaintiff from Aceh Utara added.

“Our government has lost the ancestral wisdom of how to manage lands, forests and water. Unfortunately the implication of this means one person signing a piece of paper could sacrifice life and livelihood of many” said Abu Kari, the plaintiff from Gayo Lues.

“The government’s proposed Aceh spatial plan makes no mention whatsoever of the existence of the Leuser Ecosystem as a National Strategic Area for its environmental protection function, and effectively legalizes numerous new roads, many of which have already been cut and constructed illegally through vast areas of the forests, fragmenting this sensitive ecosystem and opening up new pathways for destruction. Sustainable development for Aceh is impossible if its forests are destroyed,” Farwiza continued.

“This case is clear cut, all we asked for is the Minister of Home Affairs to uphold its own legal authority to cancel Aceh Spatial Plan as stated in Ministry of Home Affairs decree 650-441 year 2014, and for Aceh Government and Aceh Parliament to revise the spatial plan by including protection of the Leuser Ecosystem” said Nurul Ikhsan, the lawyer representing the case.

“If the Minister of Home Affairs, the Governor of Aceh and the Aceh Parliament do not do this, they are clearly acting unlawfully.” Nurul Ikhsan concluded.

 

 

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