An estimated 5000 local residents from 39 villages located in the Bangka Belitung islands, South Sumatra, protested today in front of the local government office against a concession for the acacia plantation awarded to a company called PT. Build Rimba Sejahtera (PT BRS).

75% of the concession area held by ​​PT. BRS is already managed by local communities and the new plantations threaten villager’s gardens of pepper, rubber, oil palm and fruit.

The PT. BRS concession stretches over 66,640 hectares including 39 villages in West Bangka Regency and threatens the livelihoods  of local farmers. The new concession is aimed to provide wood fibre to Asia Pulp and Paper’s new OKI mill, in South Sumatra.

In March 2017 around 60 international and Indonesian NGOs sent a letter to APP to not accept PT BRS as a wood supplier. The letter, that was coordinated by EPN, noted that any association of APP with PT BRS would represent a clear violation of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (1). A recent Associated Press investigation however, reports that PT BRS is in the final stage of being approved as a wood supplier and suggests that the company could be actually controlled by APP. (2)

Bangka Belitung Islands in green

Ratno Budi, a local representative of WALHI (Friends of the Earth), said that the Governor of Bangka Belitung should prioritise and implement the regulations promoting Village Community Forestry  schemes and promote agrarian reform in the regency.

APP applied for ending disassociation from the forestry and supply chain certification scheme Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The company has previously been excluded from any FSC certification because of its huge environmental and social impacts. The case of West Bangka could become a test for the process of returning to the prestigious certification scheme.

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