During an event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta, Asia Pulp and Paper released today its Forest Conservation Policy Report.
According to the company, the report reveals accelerated progress in peatland management:
- More than 3,500 canals blocked as Peatland Best Practice Management Project accelerated
- Agroforestry programme rolled out to improve community welfare while supporting protection of natural forests in the supply chain
- Belantara Foundation, initiated by APP, ready to manage and fund conservation projects in Indonesia
- Fire prevention measures strengthened with implementation of new Integrated Fire Management Strategy
Comments by NGOs however are more skeptical. While they recognize the effort by APP to improve forest and peatland management, land conflict and social issues, and landscape conservation and restoration, according to NGOs implementation on the ground reveals major failure.
A coalition of Indonesian NGOs from South Sumatra released a report revealing that 26% of APP’s total planted area in the province has been lot in the forest fires in the province only.
The report raises serious questions about how this significant plantation loss will influence the fiber supply for APP’s new mega-scale pulp mill, PT. OKI (2,5 tonnes pulp per year), which the company has announced will start operation later in 2016. APP never made public the report stating they ave enough fibre to feed the new mill, but the Rainforest Alliance, that could review it well before the fires, noted that the “a definitive answer of whether APP has enough plantation wood supply based on estimates from data gathered and analyzed 1.5 years ago is not possible”.
The NGOs coalition (Hutan Kita Institute, WALHI South Sumatra, Pilar Nusantara, LBH Palembang, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut – South Sumatra, FKMPH, LSM BAKAU and Rimba Institute) demand APP to release detailed results of its “verification” of burned areas, to fully restore burned land to natural ecosystems, to rewet al the peatlands in its concessions to reduce the fire risk, to resolve all outstanding conflicts with communities, and finally to conduct and share a new, comprehensive assessment of short and long term fiber supply that considers the fiber requirements of both its existing mills and the new OKI mill functioning at full capacity. ,
“APP must indicate where it intends to source fiber for its existing mills and the new OKI mill if its plantations in Sumatra cannot produce sufficient fiber. The company has only provided ambiguous responses to this question, saying that it would find “other sources” or “import” wood. The company should reaffirm its commitment not to use any mixed tropical hardwood fiber in its mills” says the document, which also ask the government to conduct environmental audits, review licenses, and follow up any legal violations with appropriate law enforcement.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) also noted “the lack of improved outcomes on the ground for local communities, forests and peatlands and forest governance belies APP’s narrative that it has turned itself around and deserves to be rewarded”.
The brutal killing of the 22 year old farmers union organizer Indra Pelani by APP related plantation company security, the forest tire that ravaged across APP concessions contributing to the toxic smoke and haze that caused a public health crisis and the too little step to assure peat protection (an admirable commitment to set aside of 7,000 ha of peatlands for restoration, but not sufficient steps to protect peat in the remaining 99 percent of APP’s holdings in peatlands) show that the there is still much to do. “The legacy of twenty years of rogue operations is taking more time to address than APP wants paper buyers, investors, governments and industry watchers to know about”
“Due in large part to a failure to adequately identify, delineate and set aside indigenous and community lands and land claims, APP has a continuing legacy of social conflict and inequity across its concessions” – added RAN – “These events and findings paint a picture of a company with a long way to go before it may be considered even a non-controversial company, let alone a socially and environmentally responsible one.
RAN demanded a new independent audit on APP implementation, based on credible criteria.