Research reveals illegal forest permits exemption in Riau, says NGO

Pekanbaru, Ekuatorial – A Riau based forest watchdog found indicators for exempting illegal industrial plantation permits and plantation permits through revising the province’s spatial planning, said Widya Astuti of Hutanriau Foundation, in Pekanbaru, on Tuesday (14/4).

Based on Hutanriau Foundation research in Siak and Pelalawan districts, it is allegedly found violation on ministry of environment and forestry decree issued in 2014 concerning concession permits which led to permits exemption on 151,987 hectares areas.

“Hutanriau found permit exemption for 13,538 hectares of Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) and 3,402 hectares of Plantation permit in Siak,” said Astuti. “Meanwhile, permit exempted for 127,331 hectares of HTI and 7,716 hectares of Plantation permit in Pelalawan.”

Furthermore, she said that concession owners allegedly bribe then Riau Governor Annas Maamun to exempt their areas on the revised Riau spatial planning.

“It is an [illegal] practice familiar for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which led to the arrest of Riau Governor on September 25, 2014,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar defended on the 2014 decree stating that it was a proper guidance to establish Riau spatial planning.

“In principle, the spatial planning has to be in accordance with recommendation from the team. Once that was finalized, Riau government will be able to issue a regional regulation to implement [the spatial planning]. If there are changes, it can be done partially. [Riau] Governor wants this spatial planning to be issued immediately. So, after trials of Gulat and Annas Maamun, Riau Spatial Planning will be set,” said Nurbaya on a seminar in Riau, recently. Winahyu Dwi Utami