Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To abide with the law, APRIL and APP should restore 1.7 million ha in their concession

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL are managing 38% of the BRG’s restoration total target or 1 million hectare. Analysing a previous analysis by Eyes on the Forest, Auriga says that in order to implement the full restoration mandated by the government, APP and APRIL must restore respectively 1,1 million hectare and 0,6 million hectare from each of their conservation area (approximately 40% of their total concession). Last Thursday, a team of the Environment and Forestry Ministry symbolically removed some acacia plants recently replanted after the fires, in violation with the recent regulations. The action happened at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) subsidiary, PT BAP, in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) regency.

Unfortunately, Indonesian implementation agencies are not fully cooperating. Auriga lamented that the Environment and Forestry Ministry criticised the peat restoration agency for not having started yet to actually restore land, while actually the ministry itself decreed that peat restoration can only be implemented after corporation’s annual business plan is revised. Auriga warned that the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency has stated the rainfall this year will be much lower than in 2016, and call enforcement agencies to collaborate a prompt implementation of the restoration and to minimise the risk of fires.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Indonesia's forest concessionaires required to restore peatland


According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will require forest concessionaires to restore 1.4 million hectares of peatland starting in January 2017. The move is set to affect 650,389 hectares managed by 36 forest concessionaires in five provinces, namely South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Riau and Jambi, BRG head Nazir Foead said. “The areas to be restored are equivalent to 26 percent of the total peatland restoration target,” Nazir said.
Established by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to decrease forest fires, the agency has set a goal to recover 2.49 million ha of peatland of which about 1 million ha is located in protected forests, conservation forests and community forests.
During execution, the companies would have to comply with technical guidelines set by the government and install a monitoring censor for water surface with technology developed by the agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), Nazir said. BRG would closely monitor the implementation of the measure, he added.
Indonesia, home to the world’s third-biggest tropical rain forest after the Amazon and the Congo Basin, has dealt with concurrent forest fires in recent years, causing a spread of haze to neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and even Thailand. The fires has been fuelled by pulp and palm oil plantations on dried peat.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Customary forest within APRIL sister company concession granted to indigenous group

President Joko Widodo granted part of the customary forests lying within a Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) pulpwood concession to an indigenous group as a symbol of the state's recognition of customary forests in Indonesia. The conflict between indigenous groups and the a pulpwood company PT TPL, a subsidiary of pulp giant RGE (also controlling APRIL)has been going on for years. Based on the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry’s data, there are eleven customary forest blocks spread throughout the TPL concession. The recognition given to the customary forests by the state, whereby they will be legally managed by the indigenous groups concerned, was a resolution made by the President. Indigenous groups have been struggling for and awaiting such a resolution for more than seven decades.
Of the nine Environment and Forestry Minister’s decrees granting the customary forests to indigenous groups located in various provinces, one of them pertains to the Tombak Haminjon customary forest, one of eleven customary forests located in PT TPL’s concession which spans an area in excess of five thousand soccer fields.
The decrees were handed over in person by the President at the State Palace (30 Dec), accompanied by the Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and witnessed by relevant ministers, ambassadors, and CSOs.
“We have got the ball rolling in terms of recognizing customary forests by starting with these nine customary forests which cover an area of over 13 thousand hectares. In my pocket, there are 12.7 million hectares which will continue to be distributed to indigenous and local community groups,” said the President in a speech at the event.
This Environment and Forestry Ministry’s map depicts the distribution of these 12.7 million hectares promised by the President through social forestry program (delineated in white).
Minister Siti Nurbaya in her introductory speech, which served as her report to the President, said that this move on the part of her ministry is a clear manifestation of the President's commitment and directives in respect of forest protection and indigenous rights.
“The recognition of customary forests by the state, which is taking place for the first time, forms part of our efforts to uphold our constitution,” the minister explained.
The minister also expressed her utmost gratitude to all the stakeholders, in particular the indigenous groups and CSOs involved, for their mutual cooperation and support in bringing about the recognition of customary forests.
These photos show the dialogue held between the President and a representative of indigenous groups after the event at which the customary forest recognition decrees were handed over.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The government rejected APRIL proposal on peat

The Environment and Forestry Minister ordered recently APRIL to remove the newly-planted acacia and close any new canals that had been opened in their concession. APRIL however stated that the order was not valid, claiming that removing the planted acacia would disrupt the ecological functions of the peatlands, making them vulnerable to peat fires and encroachment. APRIL also announced that it would not harvest the newly-planted acacia that made up part of its new peat development.
But according to the Director General, APRIL has to accept the legal consequences of the peat violations it has carried out. He explained that the rejection was conveyed by letter in response to the letter sent by the APRIL company to the minister containing the rejected proposals.

The ministry’s recent inspection in a concession belonging to PT RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL, showed that the company continued to carry out new peat development and new acacia planting in this concession. “The findings of the legal analysis and ground checks performed by the ministry clearly prove that PT RAPP has perpetrated peat violations. As such, of course we rejected the APRIL company’s proposals,” San Afri Awang, the Ministry’s Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance, told foresthints.news.

“The message of the President is clear, in that there will be no compromises when it comes to perpetrators of peat violations. We at the ministry are carrying this out as best we can” added San Afri Awang.

San Afri went padded that in early December, he observed first-hand the new peat development being undertaken in APRIL’s concession and also witnessed new peat development and newly-planted acacia in some of the Peat Restoration Agency’s targeted peat restoration areas. This is the reason why  the minister annulled the revised APRIL 10-year work plan of the APRIL in October (after the previous plan has been already rejected).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Greenpeace and WWF disengage from APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Two key stakeholders of APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), Greenpeace and the WWF, have announced that they are suspending their engagement with the committee. The committee has been created to supervise the implementation of APRIL policy. However in the last months, implementation has been extremely slow, while the company has been found in major breaches, especially in the management of peatlands. Furthermore, on these issues the company has also proven little transparence, even towards the committee itself.

"APRIL has repeatedly and consistently misled SAC and its independent peat expert working group regarding the continued construction of canals in its concession areas in Pulau Padang - says a Greenpeace note - "If the company cannot be trusted to provide accurate, clear and trustworthy information regarding its operations then there is simply no point in continuing to engage with it at this time."

Also WWF motivated its disengagement with a public statement: "WWF continues to recommend that companies wait and see before sourcing from and investing in RGE/APRIL and their associated business entities, until there is truly independent third party verification that the RGE/APRIL group has made significant progress in implementation of “Forestry, Fibre, Pulp & Paper Sustainability Framework”, SFMP 2.0 and additional recommendations by NGOs to fill the policies’ gaps to address critical issues, including deforestation, pulping of HCV and HCS areas, peat development and long-standing social issues."

“APRIL’s management is not serious about implementing its own sustainability policy. APRIL is also lacking when it comes to following up on key issues surrounding the policy implementation,” Rusmadya Maharuddin, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, told Foresthints.news.

According to the Greenpeace forest campaigner Rusmadya, the peat violations committed by APRIL are clearly unacceptable, considering that not only do these violations contravene APRIL’s own sustainability policy, but they are also not in line with Indonesia’s regulations. “Greenpeace has come to the conclusion that APRIL is not serious about its own sustainability policy at the implementation level. APRIL and its parent company, RGE, cannot be trusted to deliver their own commitments” said Rusmadya to Foresthints.news.

Just like Greenpeace, the WWF considers APRIL's compliance with its own sustainability policy in terms of its operations to be slow and non-transparent, with numerous peatland violations discovered on the ground.

“We are quite suspicious of APRIL because they never divulge complete and transparent information to us. APRIL also still frequently commits peatland violations. On this basis, we have decided to disengage with APRIL,” Aditya Bayunanda, WWF-Indonesia’s Forest Commodity Leader, told Foresthints.news.

He said that the WWF’s presence on APRIL’s SAC was at the request of APRIL’s own management, adding that it should be giving truthful information to the WWF, not vice versa.

“What’s the point of us engaging with APRIL’s SAC if they continue showing a lack of transparency with regard to their operations related to the implementation of APRIL’s sustainability policy?” asked Aditya.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Indonesian government cancelled again APRIL working plan - even after its revision

The Ministry of the Environment and Forestry found that the company was planning to keep expanding pulpwood plantation in the Kampar Peninsula of Sumatra’s Riau province. The plan has been already refused back in October, due to illegal plantation expansion on peat in the Kampar Peninsula landscape. The ministry also carried out a ground inspection, discovering that business-as-usual practices have taken place in the concession’s peatlands, including new land clearing and canal development. The Ministry sent a letter to APRIL intimating to restore the plantation being developed, while the acacia that has already been planted and newly-developed canals closed. The Ministry director general San Afri expressed his surprise at these operations by APRIL, considering that the pulp and paper giant is consistently promoting to the international community that its sustainability policy has included no peat development since early June 2015: “It turns out that APRIL is still carrying out business-as-usual practices, which actually violate its very own sustainability commitments. In fact, one of the director generals at the ministry was in attendance on behalf of the minister at the event at which APRIL launched its no peat development policy.” “The new pulpwood plantation being developed must be restored. This is the responsibility of the company. A letter to this effect will be sent tomorrow to the owner of APRIL,” San Afri Awang, Chairman of Peat Restoration Monitoring at the ministry, said to Foresthints.news. Furthermore, he added, acacia that has already been planted in the new pulpwood plantation must be

Monday, December 05, 2016

Indonesia President signs revised peat regulation

President Joko Widodo has signed a revised government regulation clarifying the Indonesian government’s level of commitment in providing protection and management of peatland ecosystems. large areas of pulp  plantations, alongside with palm oil plantations, has been established on peat soil, by draining peat and planting acacia. Drained peat release huge amounts of greenhouse gas (up to 80 tons/year/ha), provide the fuel for extensive fires, and in the long term lead to soil subsidence and seasonal flooding. To date, all pulp wood concessions are managed in a way that keep eroding the peat. Even the methodology based on zoning and controlling water level are not able to prevent the erosion. The revised regulation is aimed to address this situation.

The new peat regulation is ultimately includes:
  • A permanent moratorium on the exploitation of peatlands, except in designated paludiculture zones with specific types of peatland vegetation (not on drained peat).
  • No new canals.
  • Aside of the ban of  burning of peatlands, also tolerating the burning is illegal (companies have full responsibility on the concession)
  • Restoration of burned peatlands should start  within 30 days, or the land will be taken over by the State (and restoration expenses charged to the companies).
  • The government will provide criteria to measure and to enforce the regulation requiring to keep water table at no more than 0.4 meters below the peat surface (a condition that most of pulp plantation are not fulfilling).
  • The central government will keep the control over peat management, overlying local administrations.
With these measures, the government claims to put an end to the business-as-usual practices on peat management, as stated by the Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya in a recent interview with Foresthints.news.