PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa: Another Industrial Forest Plantation in Merauke?

PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa is a company that is applying for permits for a 79,033 hectare industrial forestry plantation in Merauke. On Friday 21st February the Merauke Regency Government announced on its website that the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Management Plan and Environmental Monitoring plan meet all the necessary requirements to be given a permit.

In a meeting in the Swiss Bel Hotel in Merauke on Thursday 2oth February 2014 Ir. Noak Kapisa, chair of the EIA commission noted that the company had the approval of the Regency (Recommendation 522.2/226 18/01/13), Provincial Governor ( 522/1403/SET 14/03/13) and the Forestry Ministry in Jakarta (S.576/Menhut-VI/2013 23/09/13). The land the company is requesting is classified as production forest, and is not subject to the moratorium on new permissions in primary forest and peatland.

The concession PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa is applying for lies in Okaba and Ngguti districts. Established in July 2012, it is a relative newcomer in Merauke, and so far information about this company is still fairly limited. No research has been done to find out which investors or corporate group are behind this company.

As well as all the oil palm and sugar cane plantations which are planned for Merauke as part of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, the government still hopes to develop hundreds of thousands of hectares of industrial forestry plantations. The scale of the plans is shown on this map below, clipped from a map of forestry concessions in Papua in 2013, which is available on the Forestry Department’s website.

calon-hti di meraukeAreas outlined in black are potential industrial forest plantations. The one industrial forest company which is already operating in Merauke, PT Selaras Inti Semesta, is a joint venture between Medco and LG International. That is marked on the map as HT-2. Texmaco (PT Merauke Rayon Jaya) – marked as HT-1 and Moorim Paper (PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua) -marked as HT-3 also have permits but have not yet been able to establish plantations.

However, there are several more areas marked as HT-0 on the map. These are areas which have been designated candidate areas for industrial forestry plantations, but have not yet been allocated. PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa is most likely the one in the centre of the map, following the road from Okaba up towards the Digoel river in the North. This is part of the concession previously allocated to PT Kertas Nusantara.

WWF in Merauke have stated their opposition to PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa’s plans. Co-ordinator Paschalina Rehawarin told local media outlet Suluh Papua that part of the concession area is part of the area that is needed to absorb water in the Boraka River watershed, and it is feared that clearing this area will cause flooding downstream. A local regulation from 2011 stipulates that such areas must be protected and not logged. Paschalina suggested that the government study the situation once more and find another area which is not necessary to absorb excess water in times of heavy rain.

The SSUMAWOMA Malind Woyu Maklew Intellectual Forum, whose members come from the Okaba and Ngguti areas as well as Tubang and Ilwayab, have repeatedly stated that local communities oppose all corporate plantation investment in the area, including PT Wahana Samudra Sentosa.

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