Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), a new company developed to produce viscose for the textile industry, is the sister company of the Indonesian pulp & paper giant APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd) and part of the conglomerate Royal Golden Eagle (RGE).

APR built recently a new line to process Viscose Staple Fiber (VSF) – pictured in photo above from RGE – in Kerinci Pelalawan in the Indonesian province of Riau. The plant will source acacia provided by PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) which is also a company affiliated with RGE and a traditional fibre supplier of APRIL.

According to the network of peat communities (Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau – JMGR), the new plant poses a serious threat to the peatlands of the province. “APR will source acacia timber to support its production capacity, that wood will come from RAPP, a company that became notorious for causing large scale damage to peatlands, building huge draining canals and for clearing natural forests. APR plans to produce 240,000 tons / year, and more and more acacia timber will be needed by RAPP. This poses a growing threat to the peatlands in their concession area,” said Isnadi Esman, secretary of JMGR.

Particular worries concern deep peat, which is critical to protect climate (as carbon storage) and the local ecosystem. Deep peat is now protected according to the Indonesian legislation, but large areas of them has been already converted by RAPP into acacia plantations, and they are degrading every years because of the water drainage.

Isnadi notes that two years ago the Ministry of Environment and Forestry asked RAPP to revise its work plan in order to comply with government regulations on the protection and management of peat ecosystems. The company reacted by threatening to fire thousands workers, and suing the Ministry. RAPP eventually lost the court case, and had to revise the its work plan, but immediately after developed the new production line, increasing its capacity.

“This company should focus on peat restoration, including resolving social conflicts with the local communities, before to implement the the new working plan approved by the Ministry,” added Isnadi.

The revised work plan however, was not shared. JMGR calls the government to pay special attention to RGE and its affiliates, and to carefully monitor the implementation of peat restoration by this company. The development of production plants that risk to damage peatlands should not permitted.

Find complete JMGR press release in Bahasa Indonesian here: