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Ministry of Environment and Forestry v. PT Merbau Pelelawan Lestari

Jurisdiction: Pekanbaru District Court of Indonesia

Principle law(s): Law 32/2009 Environmental Protection and Management

Side A: Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Government)

Side B: PT Merbau Pelelawan Lestari (Corporation)

Core objectives: Cost recovery for illegal logging.

On September 2013, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) filed a tort-based lawsuit against a corporation, PT Merbau Pelelawan Lestari, for the release of GHGs emissions. The plaintiffs argued that the defendant's illegal logging had impaired the forest’s carbon sink capacity. The plaintiff sought compensation for the cost of restoring the damaged forest, specifically its carbon sequestration function. The damage amounted to IDR 240 billion (approximately US$17.2 million) for the total affected area of 7,463 hectares. The defendant argued that it had not carried out any illegal logging and stated that the plaintiff should have given the company administrative sanctions for illegal logging prior to initiating the lawsuit.

On March 3, 2014, the district court of Pekanbaru ruled in favor of the defendant on the ground that the defendant was not proven to have logged forest outside the permit area. Furthermore, the court is of the opinion that the defendant's activities are in accordance with the Environmental Impact Analysis and there is no environmental damage happened in the area. On November 28, 2014, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision. 

On August 18, 2016, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision. The Supreme Court believed that the area managed by the defendant overextended the permit's area. The Supreme Court referred to expert testimony stating that illegal logging happened in the extended area, one of which is in protected areas. The Supreme Court then awarded the plaintiff the restoration costs for climate damage in the full amount requested by the plaintiff.
Case documents

Related laws and policies
  • IDN flag This law implements Indonesia legislation
    Law 32/2009 Environmental Protection and Management

    Passed in 2009 Legislative

    This law formally recognises that decreasing environmental quality is a serious problem for Indonesia, and that climate change presents further systemic threats. It seeks to ensure that development is underpinned with the principle of sustainably and environmentally sound development principles. ...

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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