Source: Tribes ‘paid cents per hectare’
An oil palm plantation paid tribe members in Indonesia’s Papua as little as 65 cents per hectare for their land.
PT Henrison Inti Persada bought land and timber from the Moi clans at extremely low prices, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said. Documents showed Henrison paid tribesmen $US923 ($934.16) for 14.2 square kilometres of forest.
“Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua,” the agency said.
Henrison could not be reached for comment.
The Hong Kong-based commodities conglomerate Noble Group bought a majority stake in Henrison in 2010. At that time, industry analysts estimated the plantation would be worth $US162 million ($163.96 million) once developed, the EIA said.
The agency said Norway had a stake in the plantation via the multi-million-dollar shareholdings of its sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, in Noble Group. Norway has committed $US1 billion ($1.01 billion) to Indonesia to conserve tropical forests under the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme.
“That Norway – Indonesia’s biggest REDD donor – will also profit from this destructive exploitation is ironic in the extreme,” said Abu Meridian, a forest campaigner for Telapak, the Environmental Investigation Agency’s partner in Indonesia.
“Norway could be paying Papuans to maintain their forests instead of profiting from deforestation in West Papua,” he said.
The agency also said Henrison paid as little as $US25 ($25.30) per cubic metre to landowners for timber harvested during clearance of their forests, including for valuable merbau. The group said its research found that the company then exported merbau, which is used for flooring, for $US875 ($885.58) dollars per cubic metre and made millions in profit.
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PT Henrison Inti Persada (PT HIP) is one of three palm oil plantations in the Sorong Regency of West Papua, all of them established by the Kayu Lapis Indonesia (KLI) group, one of Indonesia’s biggest logging and plantation companies. According to the EIA and Greenpeace (pdf), KLI has flouted forestry laws.
The EIA report uncovers serious instances of malpractice by PT HIP in its dealings with Sorong Regency’s Mooi people, including a contract indicating the company paid 8.5m rupiahs ($925) for a 1,420-hectare plot owned by the Gilik clan of Malilis village. That is just 65 cents a hectare. Once developed, similar land assets have been valued at about $5,000 a hectare.
Villagers in nearby Klamono reported that a four-year-old child was made to sign a contract in 2006 stipulating that, if his father died, PT HIP would retain control of the land it had purchased. When EIA visited in May 2011, the villagers had still not received the homes, vehicles and education they had been promised. The EIA report goes on to detail instances of illegal land clearing, logging and corporate coercion by PT HIP and associated company PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera (PT IKS), both associated with KLI.
Noble purchased a 51% stake in PT HIP in 2010, paying $24,525,000. According to analysis obtained by EIA, once developed the plantation could be worth more than six times as much. When questioned about PT HIP’s record, Stephen Brown, Noble’s director of corporate affairs, said “the company and the relevant parties are actively engaged in a process aimed at any justified grievances being settled amicably”.