Indonesia: Riau biosphere reserve to regain illegally converted land

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 16 Jun 16;

The Siak regency administration in Riau is preparing for a massive police effort to combat encroachment on the Giam Siak Kecil (GSK) biosphere reserve and reclaim thousands of hectares for conservation. Large parts of the reserve have been turned into illegal residential complexes and oil palm plantations.

Siak Regent Syamsuar said encroachment on the biosphere had been happening since 2012. According to the latest data, 867 ha of the biosphere reserve has been turned into oil palm plantations and 28 houses have been erected, despite the area being out of bounds for conversion.

Over 2,384 ha of the biosphere reserve’s buffer zone has also been encroached upon, with 186 houses now erected in the area. Meanwhile in the transition zone, 1,300 ha have been turned into an open access area with 106 houses on it.

“Encroachers have created two residential areas and named them Kampung 40 and Kampung Tapsel,” Syamsuar told a meeting on law enforcement and security recovery for the biosphere reserve in Pekanbaru, the provincial capital, on Tuesday night.

Giam Siak Kecil is one of seven biosphere reserves in Indonesia. Located in Siak and Bengkalis regencies, GSK is divided into three zones comprising the main zone of over 55,048 ha, a buffer zone of 45,000 ha and a transition zone of over 102,000 ha.

Geographically the two illegal residential areas are located in Bunga Raya, Siak and Sungai Mandau districts. Yet, according to Syamsuar, neither have an administration or is registered in any district administration.

Syamsuar said the number of encroachers continued to increase year after year. He blames them for recurrent haze in the area. Unless law enforcement measures are taken against them, he said, encroachment activities would worsen and land fires would continue threatening the region.

He said several persuasive approaches had been attempted to get encroachers to leave voluntarily. Two warning letters have also been sent, asking them to them to dismantle their houses. Further incentive to leave could come from a massive evacuation in 2013 and 2014 following major fires in the area that caused many living in the area to pass out.

“Still, the bad experience did not make them wary or willing to leave the location,” said Syamsuar, adding that this accounted for why the Siak administration had finally decided to send the 210 families living in the area back to their respective hometowns.

He said it was just a matter of time before the plan was executed. His administration has already prepared temporary shelters for the soon-to-be evictees in Tuah Indrapura and put aside funds for the operation.

Siak Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Restika Pardamean Nainggolan said the eviction was scheduled to take place after National Environment Day, which will be celebrated in Siak on July 23 with the President in attendance.

“It has to be carefully prepared to avoid a horizontal clash,” Restika said, adding that such a clash was very possible because the encroachers had been living there for years and their oil palm plantations were four years old.

No comments:

Post a Comment