‘Give us back our land’: paper giants struggle to resolve conflicts with communities in Sumatra

first_imgActivism, Agriculture, Corporate Environmental Transgessors, Corporate Social Responsibility, Deforestation, Environment, Farming, Forestry, Forests, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Peatlands, Plantations, Pulp And Paper, Rainforests, Tropical Forests Plantation firms like Asia Pulp & Paper and Toba Pulp Lestari have a long history of land grabbing, often dating back to the New Order military dictatorship. More recently, they have pledged to eliminate the practice from their supply chains.Many of the conflicts remain unaddressed. The companies say they are working hard to resolve them.A new online platform launched by the Rainforest Action Network shows that communities are still suffering the impacts of having their traditional forests and lands seized to make way for plantations. A new campaign by a leading environmental NGO offers a rare glimpse into the frontlines of Indonesia’s “deforestation crisis,” where communities are locked in land disputes with some of the world’s biggest pulp and paper companies.Beyond Paper Promises, an online platform launched by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), tells the personal stories of people who have suffered land grabbing at the hands of two of the industry’s biggest names — Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL). Despite commitments from both companies to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses, the campaign shows that communities are still suffering the impacts of having their traditional forests and lands seized to make way for plantations. “Promises to end deforestation and to address the now decades-old land rights conflict[s] are all well and good, but the fact of the matter is that we have seen little change on the ground so far,” RAN Senior Forest Campaigner Brihannala Morgan said in a statement.RAN said it chose to focus its campaign on APP and TPL because of the “outsized role” they play in land conflicts in the provinces of Jambi and North Sumatra.Since 2013, APP, the biggest pulp and paper producer in Indonesia and China, has committed to eliminating forest destruction, human rights abuses and clearing peat from its supply chain.RAN says the commitment was a welcome move from a company with a history of land and human rights abuses, and has resulted in progress, including the end of most deforestation and plantation expansion on forested peatlands on its concessions.But “major concerns” remain, with scores of communities still seeking a resolution for the clearance of their traditionally owned forests and farms without their consent.The story of Nurhotmahsari, a resident of Lubuk Mandarsah in Jambi province, is among those featured on RAN’s site. Image courtesy of RAN.Among those given a voice by RAN’s campaign are people from Lubuk Mandarsah, a small ethnic Melayu farming community in Jambi, where locals are planting crops on disputed land as a method of resistance. The bitter dispute between APP and the Melayu community culminated with the murder of a local activist by company security guards in 2015. Since then, RAN says, “little has changed with the underlying conflict in the region,” with some 300 people now actively farming on land they have used for generations but which is legally part of APP’s plantations. “We want our customary land that we have reoccupied to be returned to us….If the company wants to resolve this conflict, all it has to do is simply give us back our land,” said Mohammad Jais of the Sekato Jaya farmers’ group.RAN’s platform also profiles members of indigenous Batak communities from across the Lake Toba region, where traditionally owned community land was taken by pulp giant TPL to be transformed into plantations to make material for everyday fabrics.In 2015, TPL adopted “No deforestation, No peat, No exploitation” policies, but RAN says these have failed to resolve the grievances of numerous Batak communities who have lost benzoin trees, which they tap for incense and are central to their culture and livelihoods.“We ask the government to protect us and return our Indigenous land to us. This land is the source of our livelihoods, and our savings so that our children can go to school,” said Rentina Nababan, from North Sumatra’s Aek Lung region, according to the new website.Abson Lumban Batu, from North Sumatra, is also featured on RAN’s site. “We are ready to defend our land to our very last breath, because this land is our life,” she is quoted as saying. Image courtesy of RAN.Both companies told Mongabay they were working hard to resolve disputes with communities affected by their plantations.APP said it “places great importance on building and maintaining good relationships with local and indigenous communities,” noting that its social engagement teams work “tirelessly” to address conflicts.It pointed to a recent resolution in Riding village, South Sumatra, where the community and APP agreed in April to work together to implement a social forestry scheme as evidence of its successes.However, it said dealing with social issues is “a complex and dynamic process that requires careful and diligent work in order to to do it correctly and responsibly.”TPL also said it “fully supports the process of dealing with land claims,” citing its attitude to a government ruling in 2016, which saw 5,172 hectares of traditionally-owned lands removed from the company. “This area is currently being restructured to adjust the boundaries of TPL concessions,” said TPL Director Mulia Nauli.“We allocate 1 percent of our net sales, an average of more than 10 billion [rupiah, around $751,428] annually, to conduct community development and CSR [corporate social responsibility] programs to improving the economy, health, education and infrastructure,” Nauli said in an email.TPL added that it “deplored” RAN’s campaign, which it feared would hamper conflict resolution.   “Such campaigns are not productive, do not solve the problems and can disrupt the process of settlement that is being run by the government,” Nauli said.Indra Pelani, the activist who was murdered by APP security guards in 2015. Photo courtesy of Walhi.Morgan of RAN, meanwhile, said the companies needed to take “decisive and proactive steps” to implement the “free, prior and informed consent” aspects of their policies. The principle references the right of communities to veto development projects that might affect their land. “Specifically, this means working with communities to do participatory mapping of land claims, and excising any verified community owned land from plantations,” she explained. “Where there is past conflict, we would like to see companies actively working with communities to identify fair remedy.”Morgan added that failures by companies to realize their commitments on the ground are “unfortunately very common” and extend well beyond APP and TPL.But while she also acknowledged that conflicts predating social and environmental commitments are difficult to solve, she said companies are not doing enough. “It is necessary that companies put substantial resources into addressing human rights issues, and into implementing their policy commitments,” she said. “Until they do, human rights abuses, loss of land, and the destruction of livelihoods will continue to plague the plantation sector.”Banner image: Nurmala Boru Purba, a resident of Aek Lung village in North Sumatra, is one of those featured on the Beyond Paper Promises website. Photo courtesy of RAN.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by mongabayauthorcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more