Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) reveals massive deforestation by industrial plantation companies during 2013 that also includes the green group’s doubts on paper giant company’s commitment to save Riau’s natural forest and peatlands seriously. In

In its annual report of 2013, Jikalahari said recently there had been an incline in deforestation which rises to 252,172 hectares last year from 188,000 hectares of the previous year. Today, the remaining natural forest is approximately only 1.7 million hectares (19%) of total Riau’s land cover in which 73.5% of the deforestation occurred on peatlands that should be protected in accordance to the law.

“The poor forest governance in Riau has let the corporates freely conduct illegal logging in natural forest, depriving community’s lands, corruption practice and causing ecological destruction,” Muslim Rasyid, Jikalahari coordinator, said.

With similar outlines to several previous other green groups’ reports lately—such as Kalimantan Forest Monitoring NGOs (RPHK) and Greenomics—the report contains doubts and questions on APP, one of paper giant companies with notorious name in Indonesia’s deforestation which also already touts its “zero deforestation” policy all over the world.

Muslim also explained that the company’s commitment deserved questions and doubts as related to Eyes on the Forest’s findings on 8 April 2013 of the company’s heavy equipments cutting down the trees of natural forest located in PT Riau Indo Agropalma (PT RIA) while, at the same time, the APP was busy touting its Forest Conservation Policy all over the world.

The 7 units of heavy equipments were found in Indragiri Hilir district, Riau, inside the concession of PT RIA which is a supplier to APP.

The report also states that APP’s FCP truly does not resolve the core issue of company’s past and present crime in deforestation. In retrospect, APP had committed forest and land grabbing of the customary rights of the local community since its first operation in 1980s.

In addition to this, the present hot issue is its involvement in Riau’s corruption case in the forestry sector which has brought numerous Riau officials behind bars, namely Azmun Jaafar (ex-Pelalawan Regent), Asral Rahman and Syuhada Tasman (ex-Forestry Service Heads), Arwin AS (ex-Siak Regent) and Burhanuddin Husin (ex-Kampar Regent), Jikalahari concludes.

While the above officials are now living the sentence, the involved company is still free operating in Riau forest. It is no wonder that the environmentalists doubt APP’s commitment to truly protect Riau’s natural forest and stop using natural forest timber for its production. Hence, Jikalahari called APP’s FCP just merely a “diplomatic answer” to calm down all the demands being pointed to it.