The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has broken the forestry cooperation relationship with WWF Indonesia. As of October 5, 2019, the cooperation made through the MoU on March 13, 1998 has been stopped and is no longer valid. No later than December 2019, physical and administrative activities in the field must stop completely.
WWF Indonesia received a bitter and embarrassing gift from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. This large conservation institution that is an independent part of the WWF International conservation organization network may no longer carry out biodiversity conservation activities in forest areas throughout Indonesia. In fact, the institution with assets of IDR 147 billion with revenues of IDR 341 billion in 2018 has 34 field offices in 17 provinces with 477 employees, plus 100,000 more supporters.
Even more painful, before the issuance of the letter of termination of cooperation number S.1221/Menlhk-Secretary General/Rokln/Kln.0/10/2019 dated October 4, 2019 signed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of LHK Bambang Hendroyono, Minister Siti Nurbaya had also sent radiograms to all governors and the regent/mayor as of September 19, 2019. The radiogram that was passed to President Joko Widodo, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs asked the regional heads not to cooperate with WWF.
Minister Siti in her signed letter wrote, “Local governments are asked to pay attention to the development of WWF’s collaborative activities in the past year.”
Mr Hendroyono when confirmed the letter of termination of cooperation. However, he tried to refuse answered by calling WWF activities still running until December. What will happen next? “Later, depending on how the results of the evaluation,” he replied.
In fact, the termination of cooperation — according to letter S.1221/2019 signed by Mr Hendroyono — has already been mentioned based on the results of the initial evaluation of the UPT (Technical Implementation Unit) and the Ministry of LHK team.
What’s actually happened? From a number of explanations, WWF is considered to be “too far”, for example in making an MoU on the establishment of a Project Management Office (PMO) with the Office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to accelerate the process of Agrarian Reform and Social Forestry (RAPS). Not to mention the case of cooperation with the Papua Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).
Later, when the forest and land fires heats up, the WWF has even been impressed by the “signal”. Through WWF warriors who are also celebrities, such as Luna Maya, WWF is suing the apparatus to extinguish fires in the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, Jambi. In fact, the hotspots uploaded by the celebrities occurred in the PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT) concession, a forest concession that was managed by the WWF consortium.
On the other hand, WWF Indonesia claimed to be confused with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s decision. “To be sure, we do not know (what causes it) because the information we received is confusing. We hope to meet with the Minister and her staff to get clarification,” said Director of Policy and Advocacy of WWF Indonesia, Aditya Bayunanda, Friday (11/10/2019).
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) Jambi, Rudiansyah, believes that based on the reference to the letter addressed to the local government, an evaluation must be carried out immediately to find out WWF’s performance in conservation efforts, especially in forest and land fires. For example, the Londerang forest in Tanjung Jabung Timur District, the largest peat land restoration area in Jambi.
“We do not see that the cooperation has a positive effect, for example in the ABT concession where the area is burned every year, and social conflicts with the people there are not carried out properly. This means that absolute accountability is not carried out,” he said, Wednesday (2/10/2019).
In a letter issued by the Minister of Environment and Forestry, it was stated that WWF’s work orientation concerning biodiversity based on Law Number 23 of 2014 Article 360, and conservation matters are the responsibility of the central government. Then the regional head was asked not to sign cooperation with WWF without consulting with the Minister of Environment and Forestry in order to maintain jurisdiction and over claimed the success of the collaboration as it happened.
WWF Indonesia Foundation is the largest shareholder of PT Panda Lestari, which is 4,598 shares valued at IDR 4,598,000,000. PT Panda Lestari is the majority (controlling) shareholder of PT ABT, which burned 20 hectares. The company operates under the Business Permit for the Utilization of Timber Forest Products-Ecosystem Restoration in Natural Forests (IUPHHK-Ecosystem Restoration), and is the only holder of the burned IUPHHK-RE. In addition, WWF Indonesia is involved in social conflict with the community. A police report was filed on September 8, 2019, with alleged acts of violence perpetrated by persons from PT ABT against the community.
Some parties consider, the termination of cooperation carried out by the government, in this case the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, is a defeat of the struggle for forest conservation in Indonesia. The steps taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry may be a sign to NGOs that the government is not reluctant to evaluates their performances. NGOs always imaged itself as a container of public criticism about the sustainability of nature, but in practice, it is not merely about saving forests.
What should be underlined, if NGOs are present as an effort to preserve the environment, a commitment to continue running on the rails in accordance with these ideals and expectations, is a fixed price.