News / Asia

    Rural Indonesian Firms Jockey for Competing Resource Projects

    An excavator works amid thick forest in the area PT Kal has slated for conservation, and company heads worry that wide roads like this will kill its chance of selling carbon credits, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, September 2011.
    An excavator works amid thick forest in the area PT Kal has slated for conservation, and company heads worry that wide roads like this will kill its chance of selling carbon credits, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, September 2011.

    In a remote part of northern Indonesia, two companies are battling for control of a piece of land that both say they own the rights to develop. One company says it will protect the land for a carbon-trading program. The other company wants to mine the land, bringing development and jobs to locals. where corporate ambitions and local needs are jockeying for control of Indonesia’s forests.

    The sounds of chainsaws and excavators clawing into hard earth overwhelm the calls of rare birds and gibbons gathered in the few clusters of forest that remain here.

    West Kalimantan is an isolated region with little government oversight, sporadic phone reception, pockmarked roads and poor villages with limited access to schools and health care.

    Farmers already have degraded much of the land through slash-and-burn agriculture. Now, companies are seeking access to mineral deposits and vast swaths of the remaining forest.

    Conservation vs. mining

    In Lamon Satong, two companies are battling about land they both say they have government-granted rights to develop. On one side is palm oil firm P.T. Kayung Agro Lestari, or PT KAL. On the other side is Laman Mining.

    Mohamad Akhir bin Man, PT KAL’s general manager, said the companies are at loggerheads.

    “We have this overlapping license with Laman Mining and they seem to be working on their own, without even informing us they’re coming in, let alone getting consent,” said Akhir.

    PT KAL wants to conserve a chunk of its 18,000-hectare concession for a U.N.-backed carbon-trading program. The plan allows developed countries to pay heavily forested developing nations to reduce their carbon emissions by saving trees. The company and international investors have jointly spent about $200,000 surveying the land to determine its viability for carbon trading.

    Much of the land on which palm oil firm PT Kal is planting already has been degraded, but freshly cut tree trunks show that forest here is still being cleared, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, September 2011.
    Much of the land on which palm oil firm PT Kal is planting already has been degraded, but freshly cut tree trunks show that forest here is still being cleared, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, September 2011.

    Laman wants to mine bauxite, the main ore used in aluminum. If the company begins digging, it would prevent the forest from being utilized for carbon trading.

    Rising tensions

    Green groups say conflicts like this are increasingly common, given a shortage of fertile land, and the rush to claim and develop natural resources. They blame vague zoning laws and local officials eager to profit from land-use contracts.

    Aditya Bayunanda, a forest campaigner from the World Wildlife Fund, said “Overlapping permits, permits that have gone idle, are all over the place. And, it even has been a hindrance to more responsible investment, people wanting to invest on doing some good plantations where you don’t have to open up the forests.”

    Such opportunism threatens to undermine promises made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cut Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020. It is also raising questions about whether the government can oversee its rapidly dwindling forests.

    Officials say they are working to change the forest model from one of exploitation to one of preservation. But in impoverished parts of Indonesia, the attraction of much needed jobs can take precedence over preserving the forest.  

    In West Kalimantan, PT KAL executives accuse a regional member of parliament, Antonius Salim, of taking kickbacks from their competitor to develop the land.

    Need for local jobs

    Salim denies taking kickbacks and said he is helping meet his community’s demand for development.

    He said he understands the problem is caused by the overlapping license, but said the community needs jobs. He said he would welcome any investor, as long as it provides benefits to the region that will help with economic growth.

    A representative for Laman Mining said locals will benefit from its plan. He said the community will allow it to develop several mineral-rich hills, in return for rubber seedlings and much-needed roads.

    For PT KAL, the project could be a model example for carbon trading, which would help cover the expenses it pays to protect the forest.  That includes regular security patrols to keep out illegal loggers.

    Syahrizal Irwan, a senior manager at PT KAL, insists Laman does not have a license to mine. He said Laman only has a license to explore, and if the status of the forest is protected, the company cannot operate there. He said it cannot construct a road or a base camp. Irwan said the status of the forest is a dilemma that needs attention from the government.

    For now, the government has not weighed in on the dispute in this remote corner of Indonesia, leaving the carbon trading and the local development in limbo.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora