Monday, July 15, 2013

APRIL: escalating social conflict in Pelalawan

Three excavators owned by a supplier of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) , PT Rimba Lazuardi (RL), in Pelalawan District were burned by hundreds of local people on Sunday, July 7th 2013, following a land conflict between the company and local society amid intensifying tense since the last two months, media reported.
The firing of three Volvo heavy equipments, two motorcycles of contractors were triggered by the company’s inconsistence on the conflict mediation agreement. No one injured in the violence, reports said.
The disputed land of 1800 hectares is located in Tesso Nilo forest complex in which had been cultivated with palm oils by the people for more than three years, a local chief police said.
The Chief Police of Pelalawan District, AKBP Guntur Aryo Tejo, told that the village administration had facilitated the two parties a mediation which resulted a collective temporary agreement to have a follow-up on July 10th 2013 in sub-district level that would be chaired by Ukui Sub-district Head, Edwardo.
“It is noted that before the next mediation, the company was forbidden for any operations nor activities on the land. But the agreement was allegedly broken by the land managers of PT RL that was going to plant acacia trees which incited people went anarchic,” added the Police Chief as quoted on as saying.
Having seen three heavy equipments of PT Rimba Lazuardi operating on the disputed land, society had warned the company to stop on Thursday, July 4th 2013, but apparently the company’s ignorance had led the people to their amock on the next three days.
The Ukui sub-district head, Edwardo, said that the villagers were not aware of the existence of PT RL in the area until the conflict erupted.
Responding the violence, Chief Police of Riau, Brigadier General Condro Kirono along with Pelalawan District Head, Ukui Sub-district Head and four company representatives conducted a closed meeting at the Pelalawan District Head’s office.
Latest report said that some perpetrators of the burning were detained by the police.

Sumatran elephant at risk

WWF urged the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to immediately enforce the legislation on elephant deaths. According to the environmental organization, over 100 elephants have been found dead in Riau, Sumatra, since 2004, where the government failed to enforce the law. "In May, there have been three elephants found dead in Tesso Nilo," said Syamsidar, of WWF.

The latest elephant-killing case occured in Tesso Nilo National Park, Pelalawan District, Riau Province in May 2013. Two elephant corpses were found by WWF team and TNNP office who were doing their regular patrol on Friday, May 31st 2013 and they are allegedly to be poisoned.

"There are two wild elephants which were found dead, one is a young elephant and the other is its mother and were probably still from the same group." Head of Tesso Nilo National Park Office, Kupin Simbolon, told to Antara News.

Furthermore, tentative analysis based on the condition of the scene states that the two corpses were alleged to be poisoned, some unidentified utensils were also found around the bodies. As the two bodies were not decomposed yet, the team estimated that they were killed 2-3 days ago.

"There should be immediate response by the government to every suspicious death of the endangered species by doing investigations and examinations. Because every death of the major species means a loss of the country’s assets, moreover, Sumatra elephants are species in critical condition” said Sunarto, species expert of WWF Indonesia, in a press release last week.

“The condition today is very devastating. There have been several numbers of dead elephants found and we promise to not let this continue to happen” Kupin added.

Though associated institutions (including Riau Natural Resources Conservation Office and Veterinary Office of Pelalawan District) has sent the Autopsy Team to resolve the dead-elephant case reported by WWF, there is still no real action on the case until now, the environmental organization said in a press release said. The Tesso Nilo National Park Office only secured the tusks of the bodies that were found in Ukui Sector.

Monday, July 08, 2013

APRIL blocking deforestation probe

Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and WWF have claimed that the pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is dodging an independent enquiry into its deforestation practices in Indonesia by withdrawing from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).bOn June 22nd 2013, the FSC announced that APRIL had asked its certification bodies to withdraw all of its FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certificates.

The three environmental organizations had earlier lodged a complaint with the FSC that APRIL was in violation of FSC’s Policy for Association through its continued large-scale conversion of natural forests in Indonesia to plantations, including the destruction of high conservation value (HCV) forests. The company also has persistent social conflicts in its operations. In a statement responding to FSC’s announcement, APRIL stated that its decision ‘not to hold or seek FSC CoC/CW certification for the foreseeable future is based on concerns about the FSC’s Policy for Association’.

The FSC Policy for Association is in place to ensure that the FSC only associates with companies committed to fundamental principles of responsible forest management. It requires that a company holding FSC CoC certificates not be involved in the conversion of HCV forest and must not have converted an area of forest covering more than 10,000 ha within the past five years. APRIL also holds COC certificates under the other major forest certification scheme, the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) However, the NGOs could not file a complaint to PEFC as it doesn’t have a Policy of Association.

“By quitting the FSC, APRIL is avoiding independent scrutiny of its operations as presented in the NGO’s formal complaint to the FSC. It is effectively admitting its deforestation practices are incompatible with the FSC” says Aditya Bayunanda from WWF Indonesia. “Between 2007 and 2012, APRIL and its suppliers in the Riau province, Indonesia, have converted close to 200,000 ha of Sumatra’s rainforests to plantations. Much of that was vital forest habitat for critically endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers.”

“Companies like APRIL that are dependent on rainforest destruction are provoking social conflict through a failure to respect customary rights over land. Such operations are clearly unsustainable,” said Lafcadio Cortesi from RAN. “By walking away from the FSC, APRIL is sending a clear signal to the market that it has no intention of stopping its destructive operations. Contrary claims by APRIL are no more than greenwash.”

“APRIL is now the largest driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia. In 2012 alone, its suppliers planned to clear around 60,000 ha of rainforest,” said Zulfahmi from Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Greenpeace is calling on any company buying from APRIL to cancel these contracts until APRIL finally cleans up its act and stops trashing rainforests.”

WWF, Greenpeace and RAN are calling on APRIL to immediately stop all natural forest clearance in all of its own and suppliers’ concession and commit to a comprehensive zero deforestation policy as first steps. The NGOs also call on the FSC to ensure that any company associated with deforestation, such as companies related to the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group of which APRIL is part, are not allowed to hold FSC certificates.