Monday, May 22, 2017

According to the LiDAR mapping carried out by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG), one of the pulpwood concessions belonging to PT RAPP, a subsidiary of pulp and paper giant APRIL, located on Pulau Padang in Sumatra’s Riau province, is largely composed of deep-lying peat.
LiDAR is a surveying method that measures peat deafness using pulsed laser light.
The results of the LiDAR mapping performed by the peat agency were also backed by the Indonesian Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing and Gajah Mada University.

“Major parts of the APRIL concession on Pulau Padang are situated in deep-lying peat, - Peat Agency Chief Nazir Foead told - "The majority of peat in the concession ranges from more than 5 meters up to 10 meters in depth,” 
In February this year, Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya signed the peatland ecosystem map, which classifies various peatland areas into protection and utilization zones. This map also indicates that the bulk of the APRIL concession on this small Sumatran island lies in a protection zone.

The ministry has imposed a tight schedule on almost one hundred pulpwood companies to revise their 10-year work plans by incorporating peatlands classified as protection zones into these revised work plans. Pulpwood companies under the control of the APRIL group are no exception in this regard.

Last year, PT RAPP was declared by Indonesian authorities to be involved in a series of peat violations after a ban on any new peat development was issued by the Indonesian government in early November 2015.

This first of these peat violations was uncovered by a surprise inspection of the APRIL concession by the Peat Agency Chief Nazir Foead who witnessed first-hand the new peat development practices being perpetrated by the APRIL company in its Pulau Padang concession.

On the basis of these peat violations, the ministry suspended the operations of the APRIL company in this concession.

Not long thereafter, in September 2016, the ministry uncovered the legal fact that the APRIL company was still adding new plantation areas involving peatlands through its new peat development practices.

This finding prompted PT RAPP’s 10-year work plan to be revoked by the ministry in early October 2016.

This was not the end of the matter - the ministry also discovered on-the-spot facts demonstrating that the APRIL company was committing peat violationsin the form of new peat development in another of its concessions situated in the Kampar Peninsula landscape, also in Sumatra’s Riau province.

In early December 2016, the ministry ordered the company to remove the acacia recently planted in these newly-developed peat areas. However, the APRIL company failed to comply with this instruction.

This lack of compliance resulted in the imposition of sanctions on PT RAPP in early March this year, compelling the Singapore-based company to get rid of the acacia planted in these newly-developed peatlands as well as to close the new canals constructed there.

Eventually, the APRIL company reported, via an official letter sent to the ministry (Mar 31), that it had partially removed the acacia planted in the newly-developed peat areas and closed some of the new canals it had developed. The company also asked for an additional 30 days for it to comply with the provisions of the sanctions in full.

It should also be noted that the APRIL company’s operations were also hit by sanctions from the ministry due to the peat fires which ravaged its Pulau Padang concession in 2016.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too much hot air: paper's climate change impacts in Indonesia

A new report ‘Too Much Hot Air‘, details the shocking climate change impacts of the Indonesian pulp and paper industry through damage to peatlands, and highlights solutions in the form of ‘paludiculture’, with examples of good practice from local communities. The report is a discussion document, and it concludes with questions about we can move to a more sustainable future for Indonesian peatlands.

The pulp and paper industry in Indonesia has extensive tree plantations on drained peatlands. After drainage, the peat oxidizes, releasing carbon in the form of CO2 into the atmosphere. Drained peatland contributes more than half of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in addition to above-ground deforestation emissions, puts Indonesia among the world’s highest greenhouse gas emitters.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the Indonesian pulp and paper sector are estimated at 88 million tonnes of CO2 per year from peat oxidation, more than Finland’s entire national emissions. An additional unknown but probably even larger amount is released in periodic peat fire events, such as the one in 2015, which also caused life-threatening smog and haze.

Local communities in Indonesia are developing methods of managing peatlands in a responsible way, re-discovering traditional practices and experimenting with new methods of paludiculture, the practice of mixed crop production on undrained or re-wetted peat soils. However, the pulp and paper industry has not yet developed a corresponding paludiculture system at a sufficient scale to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and prevent excessive risk of fire and flooding. Urgent action is required to prevent a climate catastrophe.

Monday, March 27, 2017

After APP, also APRIL sanctioned by the Ministry

After removing the recently (illegally) plated acacia from APP plantations, an Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment and Forestry high level inspection team visited the plantation of APRIL subsidiary PT RAPP and removed the acacia plants.
The inspection tema was lead by three director generals from the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry and it performed a a symbolic removal of acacia recently planted on burned peat, that should have been restored. In fact, a regulation issued last year prohibits to plant again on burned peat, until it has been decided how the peat will be restored. Both companies, APRIL and APP hurried to replant acacia on the plantation areas that has been hit by the huge fires n Autumn 2015.
The Ministry ordered PT Rapp to immediately remove the illegally planted acacia and to restore all the peatlands burned in the 2015 fires.

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 10, 2017

The land grabbed from Toba Pulp Lestari to be returned to indigenous people

Indonesia's decision to return customary lands to indigenous peoples is a breakthrough for their rights and a boost to campaigners pushing for a slowdown in deforestation in the Southeast Asian country, a leading rights activist said.

President Joko Widodo announced on Dec. 30 that Indonesia would return 13,000 hectares of customary lands to nine indigenous communities, and committed to giving back a total of 12.7 million hectares to local and indigenous groups.

Veteran indigenous rights campaigner Abdon Nababan, who attended the announcement at the presidential palace, said it was an encouraging sign for the traditional custodians of Indonesia's forests.

"In our constitution, since (independence in) 1945, there has been strong recognition and respect for indigenous rights, but until the end of last year, there has been no real legal recognition," said Nababan, secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN).

"This is the first time," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from Jakarta.

Indonesia has been a focus of global efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions caused by widespread deforestation of swampy, carbon-rich peatlands to make way for plantations for industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper.

The deforested, drained peatlands are highly flammable, and smouldering peatland fires have caused choking haze across Southeast Asia in recent years.

These forests are often in remote areas long inhabited by indigenous peoples, who may not have the documents proving their land ownership or the ability to counter land acquisition by the government and corporations.

Most of the returned land is state forestland, Nababan said.

It includes a 5,000-hectare concession in North Sumatra province granted in 1992 to Indonesia-based pulp manufacturer Toba Pulp Lestari, company official Anwar Lawden said.

"With regards to the land claimed within our concession by several communities, we have been working with the Ministry of Forestry office for a long term solution," Lawden said in an emailed response to questions.

AMAN's Nababan, who began working on indigenous rights two decades ago, said the returned lands comprise a fraction of the 8.23 million hectares that some 700 indigenous communities have asked the government to return.

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.