Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Greenomics report on Asia Pulp & Paper

Greenomics Indonesia released today areport highlighting the case of a pulpwood concession associated with APP, with has been illegally established and eventually burned.
According to Greenmails, “a legally-established HCVF (High Conservation Value Forest) area, the size of more than a thousand football fields, has been developed as a pulpwood plantation on the concession of an APP-linked company, PT Rimba Hutani Mas (RHM), which operates in the province of South Sumatra, Sumatra Island, Indonesia. The HCVF area in question, which constitutes a riverine buffer zone, was partly burned during the uncontrolled land and forest fires in September-October 2015.”
The area, Greenomics explains, was protected by law, but it has instead been converted into an acacia plantation that supplies raw materials to APP.
APP continued to source from this illegally developed plantation also after the launch of its new forest policy.
According to the NGO, this is not the only case.
  • APP - concludes Greenomics - should not claims the losses from for the fires that destroyed the plantation, since the plantation has been illegally developed, although inside the concession area. On the contrary, suggests the NGO, is the Indonesian State that should claim the damages to river buffer zones (protected areas by the law).
  • APP should also cut any sourcing from plantations developed illegally, in order to give credibility to its own policy.
  • Greenomics demands also to APP to collaborate with the Singaporean authorities. Recently the Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) sent a legal notice to PT Rimba Hutani Mas, suspected to be among the responsible of the haze crisis. APP, according to the Strait Times, said that it has has no links to concession land in Indonesia.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Paper Risk Case Study: Indonesia

Environmantal Paper Network released an interactive lists of public data on identified forest-products subsidiaries, linked to the two giant Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL, the two powerful paper giants controlling over 80% of Indonesian pulp capacity. Both companies recently released new new forest policies, committing them to stop deforestation and to take responsibility for the huge impacts on the environment and on local communities.

While environmentally and socially risky paper sources exist throughout the globe, Indonesia is home to some of the world’s last intact rainforests and also some of the world’s largest and most criticized producers for deforestation and conflict over land rights. Conservation of the tropical rainforests of the islands of Indonesia is a global priority for our climate, endangered species habitat and for communities that have rights to them.
The lush rain forests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are the only place in the world where elephants, tigers, rhinos and orangutans coexist. But these exceptional forests suffer from what may be the world’s fastest deforestation rate, threatening the survival of those species and causing massive carbon emissions. More than 6 million hectares of natural forest were lost from 2002-2012. Since 1985, Sumatra has lost more than half of its forest cover, leaving less than 13 million hectares. With only about 400 Sumatran tigers and fewer than 2,800 Sumatran elephants left in the wild, this last remaining habitat is critical to the survival of these species. The pulp and paper and palm oil industries account for the vast majority of deforestation in Sumatra.
Conscientious purchasers are showing how to avoid the risks there – and leverage potential improvements for Indonesia’s environment and communities. Below find links to profiles of key suppliers with a brief analysis and further resources.

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)
Long considered one of the world’s most problematic producers, APP recently adopted an important new forest policy. This APP profile is a clearinghouse for information on background and progress and provides performance metrics that buyers can use to verify APP’s progress in implementing their policy and addressing other concerns.
More on APP
interactive lists of public data on identified forest-products subsidiaries, affiliates, 

Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL)
International and Indonesian civil society organizations indicate that APRIL continues to be a highly problematic source. Their concerns with APRIL’s disastrous impacts on the forest, biodiversity, climate, community and human rights are summarized in this APRIL profile, as well as a database of subsidiaries and affiliated companies for use by purchasers implementing paper sourcing environmental policies.
More on APRIL
interactive lists of public data on identified forest-products subsidiaries, affiliates, 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NGOs letter to government and buyers

A coalition of Indonesian NGOs sent today a letter to the government and to the buyers. "Is now more than 100 days that people in Sumatra and Kalimantan suffered from uncontrollable haze” says the letter. The haze is coming from forest fires related to forest conversion and plantation management, especially on dried peat soil, and exacerbated by El Nino.

While the forest fires burned 1.7 millions hectares, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosfere, people is forced to live in an atmosphere heavily polluted by sulfur-dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, causing respiratory illness, especially to small children. "In Palangkaraya, on September 25, the pollution index reached 2,300, forcing people to wear masks in their home” says the letter. Schools are closed, airports works discontinuously, and even the neighbors countries, such as Singapore are affected by the haze. According to satellite data, says the letter, such fires mostly occurred in big concession companies, notably the pulp plantation linked to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)

Four APP suppliers have received a "Preventive Measures Notice" from the Government of Singapore for potential violations of Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, while some of them are being investigated by the Indonesian authorities. Forest fires are also located in the concessions of APP competitor, Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) and to palm oil plantations, such as those controlled by Golden Agri Resources (GAR, sister company of APP), Wilmar and CARGIL.
The letter demand to the government to stop issuing permits for pulp and palm oil plantations and to convict the companies linked to forest fires. The NGOs also ask to buyers and investor to stop any business with the companies involved in forest fires.

 The letter is signed by TUK Indonesia, ,HAKA, JMGJ, JMG South Sumatra, PUSAKA, Linkar Borneo PADI,HaKI, Persatuan Petani Jambi, Jikalahari

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Haze and forest fires linked to Asia Pulp & Paper, NGOs says

The Indonesian NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest (EoF) published a set of maps showing that fibre suppliers related to the forestry and paper conglomerate Sinar Mas / Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are linked to the forest fires and haze crisis.
Four SMG/APP suppliers in South Sumatra, PT. Bumi Andalas Permai, PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT. Rimba Hutani Mas and PT. Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, recently received “Preventative Measures Notices” from Singapore’s National Environmental Agency (NEA) for possible transgression of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act. The companies are having serious fire issues this year (Figure 1). EoF analysis of NASA’s FIRMS MODIS fire hotspots data revealed that:
  • 74% of all high confidence hotspots (or 66% of all hotspots) in Sumatra were detected on peat soil this year (1 January – 11 October) with serious impact on the global climate.
  • SMG/APP is the corporate group with the highest number of hotspots this year: 39% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra and 53% of all high confidence hotspots on Sumatra’s peat (Table 1).
  • The four SMG/APP companies who received NEA notices alone had 37% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra and 50% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra’s peat (Table 1).
  • One of them, PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau, was recently named suspect for allegedly setting fires by the Indonesian Police and Ministry of Environment and Forestry for the second time this year. The company also had a very high number of fire hotspots last year (2,755 hotspots with almost 40% at high confidence level).
SMG/APP, reports Eyes on the Forest suppliers have a long history of fires. The company’s concessions on Riau’s peat had even more fires than those in South Sumatra in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014. This year, Riau province as a whole has had much fewer hotspots than South Sumatra. But the situation may change, the El Niño season is expected to last.

Image: Eyes on the Forest, flames and smoke from the fires in SMG/APP’s four suppliers’ concessions visible on Landsat 8 images in September and October.

This is all bad news for climate and for business plans. A quarter of Sumatra’s carbon rich peat soil is inside pulpwood concessions which make the soil highly flammable and vulnerable to fire due to constant drainage necessary for their acacia plantation to survive.
With 44% of all Sumatran pulpwood concessions on peat, the constant fires and peat subsidence pose a serious question for the long-term sustainability of this business model. "SMG/APP and competitor Royal Golden Eagle/APRIL have 67% and 51%, respectively of their concessions in Sumatra on peat (Table 2). How long will they be able to produce wood to make paper? How reliable are their respective predictions for secure and “sustainable” wood supplies? Investors should take note" added Eyes on the Forest.
Since SMG/APP started to clear large tracts of peat forest in early 2000, peat experts and NGOs have called on them to not clear peat forest and develop plantations and the massive drainage system they require. The inherent risks of peat development, fires, subsidence and inundation, have been known for a long time. Yet, SMG/APP suppliers kept converting forest and draining peat - despite the long history of fires in many of their concessions.
SMG/APP suppliers seem to be unable to prevent fires and extinguish them once started on peat, resources continue to burn and carbon is going up in smoke. EoF calls on APP and all other peat concession holders to restore their peat areas wherever feasible, the easiest way to prevent fires.
SMG/APP announced the experimental retirement of 7,000 ha of peat plantation this year. But the company needs to go far beyond this “feel good” gesture. SMG/APP suppliers currently operate approximately 1.4 million hectare of concessions on peat in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The retirement of 0.5% of that huge land bank is clearly much too small a step for this very big company.
Considering the Sumatran paper industry’s likely extreme carbon footprint this year and the devastating impact it appears to be having on health and business of everybody living downwind it needs to do much, much more to prevent this from happening again.
"APP and APRIL, with their respective 1 and 0.5 million hectare restoration and conservation commitments, need to start taking real actions in their own priority peat landscapes of Senepis, Giam Siak Kecil" concluded Eyes on the Forest"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Singapore: supermarket chains remove all Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) products from their stores

Singaporean supermarket chains are removing all Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) products from their shelves. According to the newspaper StraitsTimes, NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket started to remove APP's products.
The Dairy Farm group, which operates chains such as Guardian, 7-Eleven, Cold Storage and Giant, has also stopped replenishing APP stock, but it will continue to sell existing items till they run out.
The actions come after the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) temporarily suspended the APP's exclusive distributor Universal Sovereign Trading's use of their green label pending further investigations.
The moves also come shortly after FairPrice and 16 other firms were asked by the Singapore Environment Council to sign a declaration form stating that they did not carry products from the five companies being investigated for their possible connection to the forest fires in Indonesia.
On Wednesday (Oct 7), the SEC sent the same form to Prime, Dairy Farm, Sheng Siong, Ikea, Unity Pharmacy and Watsons. FairPrice carries 14 housebrand paper products. Of these, two are sourced from APP through Universal Sovereign. The rest of the products remain unaffected.
The chain also carries 16 other APP related products from various brands - including Paseo, NICE and Jolly. All these items were pulled off the shelves at its over 290 outlets, including Cheers convenience stores, by 5pm on Wednesday.
Late last month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) began legal action against Singapore-listed APP and four Indonesian firms that it believes to be behind the burning.
FairPrice was the first to make the announcement on Wednesday morning, followed by the others later in the day.
Mr Seah Kian Peng, NTUC FairPrice's executive director, said that FairPrice has been proactively monitoring the situation over the past week.
"As a fair business partner, we reserved taking action pending further information and investigation by the authorities," he said. "Our decision to withdraw all APP products is a result of the temporary restriction of their Green Label certification."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

NGOs send a letter to Asia Pulp & Paper, urging reform of APP structures and practices

A group of NGOs sent a letter to APP director, Linda Wijaya, after a stakeholder engagement forum in Jakarta on October 5th. At the forum, APP presented information on how it is attempting to implement its Forest Conservation Policy and associated plans, and NGO’s raised the issues contained in this letter and sought assurances from APP that it will increase its efforts to quickly reform its structures and practices. The signatories made clear to APP that their re-engagement is not an endorsement of the company’s policies and practices and should not be used by the company to promote its products in the market place or seek additional finance.
See the letter at: http://tinyurl.com/letter-to-APP

Monday, September 21, 2015

APP again blames others for fires, NGOs refute

Eyes on the Forest found two Landsat images showing fires in and around concessions of four Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) suppliers in peat areas in Jambi and South Sumatra provinces and heavy smokes from them.
The companies are PT. Tri Pupajaya, PT. Rimba Hutani Mas, PT. Bumi Andalas Permai and PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau. In Maps 1 and below, Landsat images show visible fires (bright pink dots and areas), indicated by yellow circles. Dark red brown areas are burned peat soil.
"The majority of the fires - more than 90 per cent - come from outside the concessions," Ms Aida Greenbury, APP's managing director of sustainability, told The Straits Times (15 September 2015). "If the rest of the landscape do whatever they want, build whatever drainage canals and burn lands wherever they want, we will be affected. And that's why we have so many hot spots in our operations."
“Although what APP [Aida] claimed might be true in certain cases, they cannot deny the fact that four APP suppliers in Riau have been named suspects of setting fires and under investigation by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau in South Sumatra was also just named a suspect by the police this week,” says Woro Supartinah, Coordinator of Jikalahari.
We think that the investigators who managed to bring these cases to court have proven scientific evidence why the company should be punished in conviction of setting fires,” she added.
Blaming outsiders for fires in their concessions simply reaffirms APP’s failure on zero burning commitment and on legal compliance for fire prevention as reported by UKP4’s report. “And it does not make sense if APP suppliers do not prevent fires from entering their concession area, no matter where the fires started from. Companies are legally responsible to protect their concessions from any kind of illegalities,” she added.
EoF analyzed Landsat images and NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) data for this year to observe development of fire around PT. Rimba Hutani Mas (Map 3). Hotspots with high confidence values started to show up inside concessions since July. At least for this concession, the truth seems to be the other way around – fires spread from inside APP supplier’s concession to outside.
The fires burned APP’s own conservation set asides where Landsat images show illegal logging starting by May 2015. “As Rainforest Alliance pointed out in February this year, APP continues to be unsuccessful to stop illegal logging of forests they committed to protect,” said Woro.
“Many acknowledge that there are economic motives behind fires incident in concession areas. In some case, burning the land is believed to reduce operational cost, to add fertilizer to the soil, reason to claim insurance fee. These are something that public should aware of,” she added.
“APP and other companies are also partly responsible for fires outside the concessions, as draining of peat to manage their own plantations affect the adjacent peat areas. Take a look at Giam Siak Kecil and Senepis peat landscapes in Riau province where APP’s peat development have caused destruction and repeating peat fire,” says Riko Kurniawan, Director Executive of WALHI Riau.
“It is ridiculous we all suffer every year because of their continuing business as usual but they continue to excuse themselves each time by blaming others,” Riko added.
“On top of that, probably a lot of these areas were deep peat and protected by law from development in the first place, for the exact reason that such ecosystem is vulnerable, Riko said. “In Riau province alone, many concessions on peat were obtained through corruption to ignore such laws. We ask the government for review of these concessions and completely protect peatlands from exploitation.”
EoF and Riau NGOs found that there are 56 timber suppliers of APP and APRIL that detected having  fire hotspots during January – August 2015.
While there are 38 palm oil plantations that recorded having hotspots in the same period. Riau NGOs would file reports to the police of alleged involvement of PT Ruas Utama Jaya and PT Arara Abadi (APP) and PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (APRIL) in setting fires.
“APP recently announced a new program to improve peat management. They should seriously re-consider the issues of plantation development on peat soil,” says Nursamsu, EoF National Coordinator.
“APP had already committed to 1 million hectares conservation and restoration and these concessions are part of landscapes they selected. It is time for APP to put the two together to really make efforts into true restoration of these peat ecosystems to help Sumatra reduce annual peat fires and haze.”
President Joko Widodo said Wednesday that the executives, owners and directors of companies involved in setting fires should be blacklisted and banned from doing business.

Map 1. Landsat 8 of 5 September 2015 shows some fires (inside yellow circles) and burned areas (dark red-brown) inside and outside APP supplier PT. Rimba Hutani Mas concession and fires getting close to another APP supplier, PT. Tri Pupajaya concession. The image also shows smokes from fire.

Map 2. Landsat 8 of 14 September 2015 shows some fires (inside yellow circles) and burned areas (dark red-brown) inside and outside APP suppliers PT. Bumi Andalas Permai and PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau and smokes.

Map 3. Landsat images from May to September and NASA FIRMS fire data seem to suggest that many fires actually started inside PT. Rimba Hutani Mas concession and sometimes spread outside.

** For fire data, we used standard / science quality version (MCD14ML) and only showed hotspots with a brightness value greater than or equal to 330 Kelvin and a confidence value greater than or equal to 30%. The data is produced by the University of Maryland and provided by NASA FIRMS operated by NASA/GSFC/ESDIS with funding provided by NASA/HQ, available on-line https://earthdata.nasa.gov/active-fire-data#tab-content-6https://earthdata.nasa.gov/active-fire-data#tab-content-6).