Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Advisory Board members ask APRIL to put Indonesian government decisions into action

WWF and Greenpeace, both of which are members of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) - a committee established by the APRIL Group to oversee the implementation of its Sustainability Policy - have declared that APRIL must abide by the decisions made by the Indonesian government in the wake of the peatland violationsperpetrated by the APRIL subsidiary, PT RAPP, in its concession on Pulau Padang, in Sumatra's Riau province.

As a logical consequence of the peatland violations which were confirmed in a first-hand inspection by Peat Restoration Agency Chief Nazir Foead to the location of the incidents (Sep 5), the Environment and Forestry Ministry asked the APRIL subsidiary to revise its 10-year work plan to bring it in line with the government’s current commitment to protect peatlands. The ministry also provisionally suspended PT RAPP’s operations until it has completed tahe revision of its work plan. "The APRIL company of course needs to revise its 10-year work plan so that it reflects APRIL's existing sustainability policy," Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader at WWF-Indonesia, told on Wednesday (Sep 14).

He added that APRIL could have actually prevented the peatland violations from taking place if they had acted on the SAC’s recommendation of not conducting any operations whatsoever until all community-related conflicts were resolved.  “I was surprised when I heard the finding that there had been peatland violations by the APRIL company on Pulau Padang. These violations could really have been avoided if only APRIL had followed the SAC recommendation,” Dito, as he is more commonly known, lamented. He went on to explain that in the revision process of the 10-year work plan, the APRIL company would have to include the most up-to-date and valid information and data available to it. “It seems really odd for APRIL still to be referring to the 2013 work plan today. They really have to revise this as soon as possible in order to adjust it to their current sustainability policy.”

 On the same day, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner Rusmadya Maharuddin said that as corporation whose affairs are administratively linked to relevant government institutions, APRIL naturally needs to adhere to the government’s decisions, including the suspension of the operations of its concession on Pulau Padang and the demand for a revision of its 10-year work plan. “These decisions taken by the Environment and Forestry Ministry definitely took a lot of factors into consideration. We continue to back these government measures as part of our efforts to support improved forestry governance in Indonesia,” he said. Greenpeace has also asked PT RAPP to resolve various issues that have arisen on the ground, especially those related to the recent findings, whether they are social issues or issues pertaining to the opening up of peatlands to build new canals. “A corporation like this should really be following the government policy for protecting peatlands, as we know that the creation of new canals is one of the main causes of peatlands drying out,” cautioned Rusmadya. “If APRIL continues to carry out practices that are inconsistent with their sustainability policy, under the pretext that they are still referring to their 2013 10-year work plan”, Rusmadya continued, “sooner or later the public will demand to know exactly how their sustainability policy fits in to their operations.” “We really hope that their sustainability commitments will make the APRIL company accelerate the resolution of the problems they are facing, such as the social and peatland restoration issues, particularly through the revision of the 2013 work plan."

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Dr Bambang Hendroyono, said that his ministry is in the process of formulating some quick measures in response to the imposition of the three-month suspension on the operations of the APRIL concession on Pulau Padang. "All relevant concerns will be incorporated into the revision process of the 10-year work plan of PT RAPP, particularly with respect to Pulau Padang. I have been appointed by our minister to take the lead in this process," the Secretary General told on Friday (Sep 16). According to Bambang, the APRIL company may not use the 2013 work plan as a justification for clearing and draining peatlands in its concessions, including the development of new canals. In fact, in early November last year the Environment and Forestry Minister published a circular letter expressly prohibiting such operations. “This circular letter made it clear that any such activities which damage peatlands are not allowed. In light of this, the APRIL company should give priority to revising their 2013 10-year work plan, and in doing so obey the demands contained within the circular letter,” warned the Secretary General.

It should be noted that the circular letter clearly stated that pulpwood and palm oil companies need to revise their 10-year and annual work plans to adjust to the ban on the clearing of peatlands. This means that it is completely irrelevant for pulpwood companies, such as the APRIL subsidiary, to say that they are referring to their 10-year and annual work plans in terms of peatland clearances, as this company has recently done.

The head of the agency, Nazir Foead, immediately organized a field inspection, together with forest rangers and officials form the Environment and Forests Ministry, but PT RAPP sent the security to prevent the inspection.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

APRIL concession permit suspended

After being found guilty to illegal plantation development on peatland (and land-grabbing) - and trying to prevent a high level official inspection, APRIL' RAPP concession has been suspended.

Chief of Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency, Nazir Foead, has said that the pulpwood concession belonging to PT RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL, which operates on Pulau Padang, a small island in Sumatra’s Riau province, must revise its 10-year work plan with immediate effect, and meanwhile suspend its operations. “PT RAPP has to designate the peat domes found in its concession as protection zones, and this needs to be incorporated into the 10-year work plan of the company,” Nazir told

According to the peat agency data, about 65% of the roughly 34,000 hectares that make up the Pulau Padang pulpwood concession can be classified as indicative peat domes. Out of the area occupied by these indicative peat domes, 57% has been allocated for acacia plantation blocks, most of which has already been planted with acacia. “This doesn’t take into account the indicative peat domes situated in community livelihood blocks which have also been cleared by the company to plant acacia. If we were to include that, the proportion of indicative peat domes already planted with acacia would be even greater,” explained Nazir. After this acacia is harvested, he continued, PT RAPP is not allowed to replant acacia again in the locations of peat domes. “They must re-vegetate these areas with peatland plants. This forms part of the restoration process of the peat domes. This also forms part of the process of phasing out peat domes from the pulp and paper business.”

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Environment and Forestry, Dr Bambang Hendroyono, has confirmed that the operations of the pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang have been provisionally suspended.
“The decision to provisionally suspend the operations of the PT RAPP pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang has been made. It will be in effect while we wait for the map on the distribution of protected peat areas in this concession,” he declared in a written statement received by on Friday.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

In violation of government policy APRIL drains peatlands in dispute with communities

 Voices are mounting against one of Indonesia’s paper giants’ repeated disregard of Government policy to protect peatlands. APRIL denied access to the Head of Indonesia’s Peat Restoration Agency who was undertaking an unannounced investigation of the company’s continuing peat development activities on Pulau Padang in Riau province, Sumatra, accompanied by Forest Rangers, Ministry of Environment Forestry officials and local villagers.

“Denying government inspection is yet another example of APRIL’s disregard for Government policy and disrespect for the President’s mandate for the Peat Restoration Agency,” says Woro Supartinah, coordinator of Jikalahari. “APRIL must immediately halt all further development of peatland on the island and restore the peat to support the Agency and the local communities for their sustainable livelihood.”

Eyes on the Forest coalition calls on APRIL’s PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) to immediately stop alleged land grabbing in Bagan Melibur village, in an enclave area inside its concession, and follow Forestry’s Ministerial Decree Number 180/2013. “The decree is proof of the severe, long-standing conflict between PT RAPP and Pulau Padang communities that needs immediate resolution,” said Riko Kurniawan/WWF, Executive Director of Walhi Riau.

The coalition rejects APRIL’s interpretation of government regulations and its own commitments as a misleading attempt to justify the company’s continued peat clearance and drainage. “Historical Landsat images show that the company continues to drain the island’s peatlands against the Ministry of Forestry’s instruction to no longer conduct land clearing on peatlands for forestry and plantation business, even in already licensed areas,” Woro adds. “We ask the Indonesian Government to take firm measures to ensure compliance with its policies,” said Riko.

“it is odd that APRIL with its huge existing land bank is insisting on developing this small parcel of land, especially with all the protests from the local communities,” said Nursamsu, Deforestation Advocacy Leader, WWF-Indonesia. “The local community of Bagan Melibur village protested many times against the company’s operation in their administrative area in fear of future environmental catastrophes on this small peat island.”

Already in November 2014, Eyes on the Forest had reported to APRIL’s much touted Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) that the company had been clearing natural forest on peat in the area against its own Sustainable Forest Management Policy.

“I am very disappointed that the company does not cooperate with government and continues to drain peatland against clear policies and a moratorium of such developments,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader, WWF-Indonesia. “APRIL must improve its performance and follow government policies. APRIL has to stop talking about conservation and sustainability and actually start practicing it. The company has to reduce its carbon footprint and phase out its unsustainable drainage of peatlands. The company’s SAC has to avoid just becoming another corporate green-washing tool.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Caught in illegal activities, APRIL send the security to prevent official inspection

APRIL controlled PT RAPP has been found converting peatlands and digging canals in the Padang Island (Sumatra) in violation with the law. The local community informed the Peat Agency about the facts.

The Peat Restoration Agency has been created by the President with a strong mandate to protect and restore the peat after last year huge fires and the haze crisis. The fires were mostly linked to palm oil or pulp plantation companies, such as APRIL suppliers.

The head of the agency, Nazir Foead, immediately organized a field inspection in the concession, together with forest rangers and officials form the Environment and Forests Ministry, but PT RAPP sent the security to prevent the inspection.

The Jakarta Post  - RAPP accused of peatland conversion

A government team from the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) that recently made an impromptu visit to check on alleged peatland conversion by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) was denied entry to the site by security guards.

BRG head Nazir Foead, accompanied by BRG official Haris Gunawan, forest rangers, Forestry and Environment Ministry officials and villagers, said RAPP guards at the plantation in Meranti Islands regency asked to see a permit letter.

“It was an impromptu visit. Of course we did not carry any letter,” he said on Tuesday. “I just wanted to check and talk,” he said.

One of the forest rangers asked a security guard to call his superior, but he later told them the boss could not be reached by phone.

“They did not throw us out, there was no physical altercation, but they hampered us all the same. The company was not cooperating, and I suspect something fishy. We could not take pictures, could not check the coordinates,” Nazir said.

Locals said the company had converted about 50 hectares of peatland to plant acacia in the past two months.

Nazir said his office had summoned RAPP and they had met in Jakarta on Aug. 2, with RAPP saying all its activities were legal.

In a written statement, RAPP said it regretted the “lack of coordination among our security guards” that hampered the BRG visit on Sept. 5.

“We will discuss the results of field verification with the BRG this week,” the company stated on Tuesday