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, together with forest rangers and officials form the Environment and Forests Ministry, but PT RAPP sent the security to prevent the inspection.
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 Isuspect 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.