A wood supplier of APRIL in North Kalimantan province, PT. Adindo Hutani Lestari (AHL), was confirmed to have continued natural forest clearance on deep peat without HCV assessment peer-reviewed by the HCV Resource Network (HCVRN). Findings of an investigative report by GAPETA Borneo, RPHK and WWF on the continued forest clearance by AHL in violation of APRIL’s policy were checked by a joint team of the authoring NGOs, APRIL, AHL and APRIL’s long-term HCV assessor, Tropenbos Indonesia, between 10-12 June 2014.

 

Their verification report shows that two HCV reports had been prepared, neither of them peer-reviewed by the HCV Resource Network. One HCV report was given to WWF in January 2014 and verified in the field by the NGO coalition. One week after the coalition shared its investigative report with its evidence of HCV clearance with APRIL on 7 May, APRIL provided a second, different HCV report in which the to-be-protected HCVF was placed at different location.

The joint verification found that an area identified as “HCVF for protection” by Tropenbos in the January HCV report had correctly been reported as cleared. But the HCV area mapped for protection in the new HCV report supplied after the NGO investigation had not been cleared.

Until today, both HCV consultant Tropenbos and APRIL have not provided any acceptable documentation and scientific justification why the HCV area mapped for protection was moved around 1.5 km southeast, to an area more prone to disturbance by encroachment as it is closer to the public road, despite requests from the verification team.

Neither HCV assessment reports provides a justification why Tropenbos believes so much identified “HCVF” on peat can be cleared for “plantation development with water management”. The joint verification team confirmed that some of this HCVF had already been cleared. This appears to be a repetition of the type of HCV assessments provided by Tropenbos to APRIL in Sumatra’s Kampar peninsula that NGOs have been rejecting for years. Scientists are clear in their assessment that drainage of peat for plantations will eventually kill the whole peat ecosystem.

This is why NGOs have been calling on APRIL to immediately stop all peat drainage and forest clearance and discontinue the operation of heavy equipment in all concessions until proper reviews by the HCVRN are completed. According to WWF, a peer review of Tropenbos’ HCV assessment by an international HCVRN member team is scheduled to take place in July and August 2014.

RPHK became interested in this story when parallels to the devastation of Kampar Peninsular by APRIL became obvious. Same company, same HCV consultant, same pattern. RPHK’ comparison of Landsat images taken on 21 May and 6 June 2014, showed that AHL continued to clear natural forest even after the GAPETA, WWF, RPHK report was published, and the joint verification report even revealed that all forest clearance was based on an annual cutting permit (RKT) which were signed even before (26 December 2013) the first HCV report was submitted to WWF in January 2014. These clearances of deep peat forests clearly have been planned for a very long time despite the fact that it is in violation of some regulations.

RPHK calls on APRIL to immediately stop all peat development and forest clearance and finally begin developing plantation on degraded lands without forest cover.