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PALM OIL COMPANY FINED $30 MILLION FOR CLEARING ORANGUTAN FOREST

01/13/2014

In a ruling handed down last Wednesday, an Indonesian court found palm oil company Kallista Alam guilty of illegally clearing an area of protected peat forest that is home to endangered orangutans. The judge ordered the company to pay $30 (US) million in fines—$9.4 million in compensation and $20.6 million to restore damaged land in the protected Tripa peat swamp. Environmentalists believe the decision will set a positive precedent for protecting Indonesian forests; according to a lawyer for communities in the Tripa region, the ruling “illustrates a move towards improved law enforcement against environmental offenders in the region.” The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation also noted that four other palm oil companies could be prosecuted for illegally clearing, burning, and draining Tripa’s peat swamp ecosystem. It remains unclear, however, whether the decision signifies a shift toward greater environmental protection, as billions of dollars in fines levied against logging, paper, mining, and palm oil companies in the region in recent years have never been paid. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0109-aceh-tripa-court-decision.html.