first_imgThe investigative series Indonesia for Sale, launching this week, shines new light on the corruption behind Indonesia’s deforestation and land rights crisis.In-depth stories, to be released over the coming months, will expose the role of collusion between palm oil firms and politicians in subverting Indonesia’s democracy. They will be published in English and Indonesian.The series is the product of nine months’ reporting across the country, interviewing fixers, middlemen, lawyers and companies involved in land deals, and those most affected by them.Indonesia for Sale is a collaboration between Mongabay and The Gecko Project, an investigative reporting initiative established by UK-based nonprofit Earthsight. (Read the first article in the series, “The palm oil fiefdom.”)Indonesia, a nation of thousands of islands draped across the equator, is in the grips of a social and environmental crisis.Its rainforests are being destroyed at a catastrophic rate. Nearly every year it is cloaked in a choking haze from burning peatlands. Thousands of conflicts over land persist across the archipelago. It is one of the most unequal societies on earth, with half of its wealth controlled by 1 percent of the population. Local elections, where power over millions of people is decided, descend into a brazen display of vote-buying and bribery.Many of the causes of these problems can be traced back to one source: the corrupt actions of a small number of politicians who have taken control of Indonesia’s districts. In the turbulent years after the fall of the dictator Suharto in 1998, huge powers were transferred from the central government to Indonesia’s districts. Specifically, to the bupatis, the elected officials who presided over these jurisdictions, and who assumed new control over how land and forests within them could be used.Within a few short years, the bupatis had built fiefdoms across Indonesia. They used their newfound powers to cash in on natural resources, bankroll elections and build dynasties by installing relatives as their successors and in other influential positions. Under their watch, oil palm plantation companies were granted millions of hectares of land and forests. Much of it was used and owned by indigenous and other rural communities, whose rights were cast aside in favor of the private sector. Plantation companies have played a central role in the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests. They have drained its peat swamps, rendering vast landscapes prone to outbreaks of fire. They have taken community lands and offered little in return, sparking intractable conflicts.The land deals overseen by the bupatis concentrated immense territories in the hands of conglomerates owned by super-rich oligarchs from around Southeast Asia. At the same time, they deprived many of the poorest rural families from access to the fields and forests on which they depend for their livelihoods and food security. While successive national governments paid lip service to the need for land reform, precisely as a means of reducing inequality, the bupatis were busy giving more land to the rich.Arkani, a Dayak man from Indonesian Borneo who says an oil palm company grabbed his land. Photo by Leo Plunkett for The Gecko Project.Over the past nine months, Mongabay and The Gecko Project have investigated the corrupt ways in which government officials handed out vast tracts of Indonesia to private firms. We traveled to the heart of Borneo, to the swamplands of southern Kalimantan, to a paradise island of mangrove forests, and to a remote corner of eastern Indonesia. We met with indigenous activists who carried out their own investigations into the officials pillaging their land, and with fixers who facilitated deals between politicians and companies in Jakarta hotels.Over the coming weeks we will release our findings in a series of articles and short films collectively titled Indonesia for Sale. The series is centered around three case studies, each shedding light on a central component of the way in which large swaths of the country have been transferred by corrupt politicians into private hands.The first installment, “The palm oil fiefdom,” shines a spotlight on a bupati in Borneo who tried to turn almost the entire southern half of his district into one giant oil palm plantation, for the benefit of his relatives and cronies. It delves into one of the most egregious examples of a system in which district chiefs collude with private companies to exploit their office, with devastating consequences for people and the environment.The next installment follows the money trail that ended in the bribery of Akil Mochtar, chief justice of the nation’s highest court, to secure an election win in Borneo. It lays bare the connection between natural resources, land deals and money politics, and the middlemen who serve as the connective tissue in that relationship.The final installment exposes a shadowy cabal that constitutes the largest single threat to Indonesia’s forests today, with links from Papua to Malaysia to Yemen. It reveals the methods these individuals are using to hide their identities and the illegality of their projects as they forge east into the archipelago’s last frontier.These will be supported by articles that explore broader issues raised by our investigations. For example, the role of brokers in facilitating oil palm deals, the tricks employed by companies to acquire land from indigenous groups, and the widespread failure of plantation firms in Indonesia to provide smallholdings for nearby communities, as required by law.For more than a decade, the fate of Indonesia’s forests has been recognized as a global problem. The expansion of agriculture into these carbon-rich ecosystems has made the nation a leading greenhouse gas emitter.But for all of the responses that have been devised by policymakers and the private sector, plantation companies continue to destroy forests and violate human rights. Many policies have failed because corrupt politicians have been allowed to collude with the private sector in a vacuum of accountability and scrutiny. Indonesia for Sale puts these politicians firmly in the spotlight.Follow Mongabay and The Gecko Project on Facebook (here, here) for updates on the series. Article published by mongabayauthor Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corruption, Environment, Environmental Crime, Fires, Forestry, Forests, Governance, Haze, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Law Enforcement, Palm Oil, Peatlands, Plantations, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Saving Rainforests, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wetlands center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img