January 23, 2020

Crucial messages delivered to WWF Spore on 2019’s fires

JAKARTA ( - The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry is encouraging WWF Singapore to pay attention to the fact that a  WWF Indonesia-controlled ecosystem restoration concession (PT ABT) situated in Sumatra’s Jambi province was sealed (Sep 13) and subsequently sanctioned due to 2019’s forest fires within the concession boundaries (Dec 20). 

According to the ministry, WWF Singapore should realize that the aforementioned WWF Indonesia company was recently hit with this strict sanction for committing violations/not complying with laws and regulations related to the handling of forest fires in its concession.

This situation clearly contradicts WWF Singapore’s narrative - as disseminated through its social media platforms - that it is a ‘hero’ when it comes to mitigating forest fires in Sumatra, while also helping to keep Singapore haze free.

The Ministry’s Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono made these points at the ministry building in response to recent unilateral claims made by WWF Singapore (Jan 22).

Among these claims was the following dubious statement posted by WWF Singapore on its twitter account: “Year after year, our holistic approach ensures that the haze that gripped Singapore in 2015 never comes back.

“WWF Singapore needs to be aware that PT ABT, which is under the control of WWF Indonesia, is currently required to restore areas in its concession burned in 2019 within 90 working days starting from mid-January this year,” the secretary general explained.  

The photos below show forest fires in the WWF concession which lies in part of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape. In the wake of these fires, a strict sanction was imposed on the company through a ministerial decree compelling it to restore the area’s environmental functions.

WWF Singapore also wrote in its blog, a link to which was posted on its twitter feed, that its staff are working “on the ground to ensure the villagers are safe and equipped with skills and equipment to mitigate forest fires in Sumatra” -  a claim at odds with the violations and shortcomings of the WWF Indonesia company.

Hendroyono reminded the organization that “it needs to understand that the ministry imposed a sanction on PT ABT as the WWF company had failed to meet its obligation in terms of preparing adequate facilities and infrastructure to deal with forest and land fires, in accordance with existing laws and regulations.”

“The WWF company is required to report in writing to the ministry on the progress of legal compliance achieved in carrying out the orders from the sanction imposed on it due to 2019's forest fires,” said the secretary general, who also serves as the ministry’s acting director general for sustainable management of production forests. 

“It would be much better for WWF Singapore to assist the WWF Indonesia company in restoring the environmental functions in its concession, impaired as a result of 2019’s fires, rather than make unilateral claims about its role in Indonesia in keeping Singapore haze free,” urged Hendroyono.

In December last year, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, in front of the ministry’s firefighters, warned of the need to fight hoaxes and baseless claims about forest and land fires, fabricated by certain parties that wish to discredit the government.