Coconut trees killed off by beetle, villagers blamed APP company

EoF News / 05 May 2009

PEKANBARU (EoF News)-- Villagers in Kerumutan forest block, Riau province, accused acacia plantation development conducted by an Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) associated company of causing thousands of coconut trees in 1,500 hectare-land killed off by Rhino beetle [xylotrupes gideon].

Local and national media reported recently that villagers of Teluk Kabung village, sub-district of Gaung, Indragiri HIlir district, believed since the pulpwood operation started three years ago, they lose their livelihood in planting coconut for copra production.

Fachruddin, village head of Teluk Kabung, said at least 1,500 hectares of 4,500 of coconut plantation had been hit by the Rhino beetles where it drives to decrease copra production volume from the sub-district. He said the government could not find solution to solve the problem faced by the locals, Antara reported (24/4/2009).

The villagers accused that unsustainable forest management by PT Bina Duta Laksana, the APP associated company, had brought about the presence of the predator insect.

Even some farmers have abandoned the sub-village of Setiabudi, where has boundary with PT Bina Duta Laksana, the APP associated company, media reported.

Daeng Mangata, a local coconut farmer, complained that he failed to send his son to study at university following the death of his 960 coconut trees hit by the predator species, Media Indonesia reported (27/4/2009).

There were 30 heads of family living in this RT (a part of sub-village) but they had moved out after their coconut trees damaged, Daeng Mangata added. In this neighborhood RT, there are 10,000 coconut trees had been damaged by the insects.

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"But now, there are none of residents can stay here since all coconut trees died hit by Rhino beetle [xylotrupes gideon]," the farmer said. Rhino beetles appeared and damaged coconut trees since the operation of pulpwood plantation near the area had started, the village head Fachruddin said, Antara news agency reported Wednesday (29/4/2009).

The piles of felled timbers were believed to breed more larvae, said Kuswari, the district plantation service head, Riau Terkini reported last week (24/4/2009).Data issued by Indragiri Hilir Plantation Service said that within last three years there was decrease of copra production by 20,913 tons, Media Indonesia reported (27/4/2009).

In another development, Greenpeace activists staged a rally in front of the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), Jakarta, last week (7/5/09) demanding that Forestry Minister MS Kaban be processed for his alleged role in issuing a permit for 14 companies to clear 100.000 hectares of Riau forest, media reports said.