Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has reiterated that no legal authorisation was ever granted to the giant conglomerate Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) to replant acacia in last year’s burned peatlands scattered across the island of Sumatra, especially in its three concessions in South Sumatra province. The government issued a new regulation that forbid plantation development and planting on peat that has been burned in Autumn 2015, as this peat have to be restored. In November this year, APP has been found by illegally planting acacia n burned peat, and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry imposed them to remove the newly planned acacia. According to Mongabay, however, APP commented offering only cryptic assurances that it follows “all government regulations and guidelines,” but  the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s director of production forests  Putera Parthama, told Mongabay that at least two APP units had been allowed to replant burned peat with acacia pulpwood trees. (PT Bumi Mekar Hijau and PT Bumi Andalas Permai.) as “it was for fire prevention.”

This interpretation has been rejected by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s director Putera Prathama: “I need to emphasize that what has been reported by is legally and technically incorrect. The reporting by is not based on the letter that I sent to the APP companies concerned,” Dr Putera Prathama, the Ministry’s Director General of Sustainable Production Forest Management, told on Thursday (Dec 22) at the ministry office.
“My letter specifically addressed the clearing of non-peatland areas burned in last year’s fires as a way of avoiding any future land and forest fires,” Putera explained, adding that the clearing of land for fire prevention, has not to been confused with replanting acacia in burned areas.

“In my letter from mid-May 2016 in response to a letter from one of the APP companies operating in South Sumatra, I also asked the company to revise its 10-year work plan. However, the fact is that of the APP companies whose concessions contain significant amounts of burned peatlands, none have revised their work plans as yet,” bemoaned the Director General.

The Director General also assured that: “there is no policy inconsistency on the prohibition of replanting acacia in burned peatlands, as was indicated in the report. I hope that no more misleading news will come from in the future.”

Putera took the opportunity to reconfirm that the replanting of acacia in burned peatlands by APP companies was actually in contravention of the prevailing regulations.