Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To abide with the law, APP and APRIL should restore 1.7 million ha in their concession

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL are managing 38% of the BRG’s restoration total target or 1 million hectare. Analysing a previous analysis by Eyes on the Forest, Auriga says that in order to implement the full restoration mandated by the government, APP and APRIL must restore respectively 1,1 million hectare and 0,6 million hectare from each of their conservation area (approximately 40% of their total concession). Last Thursday, a team of the Environment and Forestry Ministry symbolically removed some acacia plants recently replanted after the fires, in violation with the recent regulations. The action happened at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) subsidiary, PT BAP, in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) regency.

Unfortunately, Indonesian implementation agencies are not fully cooperating. Auriga lamented that the Environment and Forestry Ministry criticised the peat restoration agency for not having started yet to actually restore land, while actually the ministry itself decreed that peat restoration can only be implemented after corporation’s annual business plan is revised. Auriga warned that the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency has stated the rainfall this year will be much lower than in 2016, and call enforcement agencies to collaborate a prompt implementation of the restoration and to minimise the risk of fires.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ministry of the Environment and Forestry orders APP to remove the recently planted acacia

By the end of December 2016, Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment and Forestry issued two official letters iorderig five more Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)  to remove all the acacia they have recently replanted in burned peat. The companies are PT RHM, PT TPJ, PT SH, PT BPP and PT SPM.

Previously, the Ministry had sent letters uttering to remove the unlawfully planted acacia to three more APP pulpwood companies (PT BMH, PT SBAWI and PT BAP) operating in South Sumatra’s Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) regency. As a result, eight APP suppliers has been found violating the new regalements that prohibits planting on burned peat.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

APP's new OKI mill will endanger Indonesia’s climate change commitments, NGOs say


On December 23, 2016 Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced it had started production at one of the largest pulp and tissue mills in the world. The Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) mill, in South Sumatra will produce 2 million tons of pulp each year, but according APP sources, production could touch 2.8 or even 3.3 million tons. A group of international and Indonesian NGOs (Rainforest Action Network, Wetlands International, Eyes on the Forest, Woods and Wayside International, HaKI, Auriga) warned that the new mill will endanger Indonesia’s climate change commitments, and demands APP to phase out all drainage-based plantations on peatlands. “The mill’s wood supply is grown mostly on drained peatlands, a production system that causes extremely high carbon emissions and, at times, catastrophic fires.” says a joint statement .

When drained for the development of industrial plantations, the peat becomes vulnerable to fires and releases very large amounts of carbon dioxide. Over time, drained peatlands will subside to levels at which these areas experience increased flooding and significant declines in productivity, which will lead to increased pressures elsewhere.”
Before the OKI mill even started production- the NGOs added - it had contributed to an environmental disaster and public health emergency. The development of peatlands for industrial forestry and agriculture, including the supply base of the OKI mill, was a major cause of Indonesia’s catastrophic fires in 2015. The fires resulted in $16 billion of economic losses in Indonesia alone and exposed 43 million people to thick haze, causing hundreds of thousands to become sick with respiratory illnesses. In what The Guardian called “the year’s worst environmental disaster”, the fires released an estimated 1.75 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2015, more than Germany or Japan’s total annual emissions.
NGOs ask APP to to "phase out all drainage-based plantations on peatlands, and a credible plan to rewet and restore those areas”, respect buffer zones of around remaining natural peat forest and change forestry practices on rewetted peatlands.
In 2015 APP announced the plan of rewetting 7,000 ha of plantations, but this represent a microscopic fraction of their concessions, but this is less than 2% of APP concessions and this measure, judged as a good first step, has proved to be insufficient to prevent the peat and forest fires.
Recently, APP has been criticised by the government for failing to implement the regulations on peat management, such as restoring burned peat.
“Pulp and paper buyers are increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, with the Rainforest Action Network. “So for many, buying paper sourced from unsustainable peatland plantations – with an emissions profile tens of times larger than any other paper on the market – just doesn’t make sense.”
See the joint statement here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Indonesia's forest concessionaires required to restore peatland


According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will require forest concessionaires to restore 1.4 million hectares of peatland starting in January 2017. The move is set to affect 650,389 hectares managed by 36 forest concessionaires in five provinces, namely South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Riau and Jambi, BRG head Nazir Foead said. “The areas to be restored are equivalent to 26 percent of the total peatland restoration target,” Nazir said.
Established by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to decrease forest fires, the agency has set a goal to recover 2.49 million ha of peatland of which about 1 million ha is located in protected forests, conservation forests and community forests.
During execution, the companies would have to comply with technical guidelines set by the government and install a monitoring censor for water surface with technology developed by the agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), Nazir said. BRG would closely monitor the implementation of the measure, he added.
Indonesia, home to the world’s third-biggest tropical rain forest after the Amazon and the Congo Basin, has dealt with concurrent forest fires in recent years, causing a spread of haze to neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and even Thailand. The fires has been fuelled by pulp and palm oil plantations on dried peat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Indonesian network says APP should restore burned peatlands

Riau environmental coalition Jikalahari said that APP should remove the recently and unlawfully planted acacia, as ordered by the ministry: “we really hope that the APP companies exploiting last year’s burned peatlands face the full force of the law, both administrative and civil as well as criminal,” Jikalahari Chairwoman Woro Supartinah told foresthints.news

“The legal prohibition of this is clear. As such, APP must remove all the acacia they have replanted in last year’s burned peatlands,” Woro demanded “APP must not merely pull out all the acacia replanted in last year’s burned peatlands. It must also restore the burned peatlands it has misused” dded Woro.

The monitoring done by the ministry’s shows that no peat restoration efforts at all have been undertaken across APP’s related companies this year. On the contrary, some of them APP has been  found by replanting acacia in last year’s burned peatlands. Talking with Mongabay.com, APP claimed that the replanting has been authorised by the ministry, but the ministry recently stated otherwise.

Friday, December 23, 2016

APP: the government confirms that APP has to remove the acacia illegally planted on burned peat

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 mongabay.com is legally and technically incorrect. The reporting by mongabay.com 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 foresthints.news 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 Mongabaay.com report. I hope that no more misleading news will come from mongabay.com 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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

APP criticised by Indonesian authorities for failing to change practices

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry refused APP plan for landscape conservation. The plan, released by the APP-driven Belantara Foundation, is aimed to “compensate” past damage by the company. However, according the Ministry, APP is just pretending get a green image by managing conservation in intact ecosystems, while their own concessions are managed by business-as-usual practices - including peat drainage.
A Ministry Director General wondered how APP could possibly pretend to lead conservation in ecosystems land outside their land bank, while failing to address the huge environmental impacts in their own concessions. In the past months, APP presented its conservation project in numerous international forums as a major example of corporate responsibility.

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Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry has finally made an official announcement on the findings of its assessment concerning Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)’s landscape conservation. It turns out that directive maps of this landscape conservation have been posted on the website of the Belantara Foundation, a foundation formed and funded by APP for the purpose of implementing its landscape conservation.

“Our ministry has made an official determination that APP’s landscape conservation is inconsistent with the country’s forestry and environmental laws and regulations. As such, we would never approve it,” Professor San Afri Awang, Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance at the ministry, told foresthints.news on Tuesday (Nov 7) at the ministry’s complex.

The Director General said that the ministry would soon be sending a letter to APP to convey the official decision of the ministry. The Gadjah Mada University professor went on to confirm that APP had never been granted any authority whatsoever by the ministry for managing protection forests and conservation areas claimed as part of its landscape conservation. He then explained some more details behind the ministry’s rejection of the landscape conservation.

“They have cleared swathes of natural forest and dried out peatlands for years, enabling them to become the giant company they are today. Now, after doing this, they are trying to claim protection forests and conservation areas in a bid to rebrand their reputation. Of course this is unacceptable, especially in a legal sense.”

He then issued a stark warning to APP: “APP must focus on dealing with the hundreds of thousands of hectares of burned peatlands caused by last year’s peat fires which took place in their pulpwood concessions. This constitutes a legal obligation on their part.”

“They haven’t even managed to sort out their own pulpwood concessions, and you can add to that the number of violations they’ve committed. And now they want to take care of landscapes that don’t even form part of their concessions,” he said incredulously.

Professor San Afri alleged that APP is actually only using a landscape conservation approach to continue its regular operations which have been previously condemned. The proof of this, he explained, is that none of the vast burned peatlands in their concessions have been included as areas for restoration.

“APP just wants to proceed with its business-as-usual practices in the burned peatlands in their pulpwood concessions, particularly those located in South Sumatra province. They also want to continue their business-as-usual practices in the extensive drained peat domes in their concessions in the guise of best practices. This is undeniable. It’s a valid assertion.”

Meanwhile, Belantara Foundation CEO Agus P. Sari said that the foundation is waiting for permission from the ministry to enable it to support the management of conservation areas, in this case the conservation areas situated in APP’s landscape conservation map.

In a written message (Nov 8) in response to a question from foresthints.news, Agus stated: “If we don’t get permission from the government then of course we’ll withdraw. At the moment, we’re still in a consultation process with many other stakeholders.”

Agus also stated that the government was the key stakeholder in the issue, and thus it must be listened to and its directives complied with.

“As to those directive maps, that was simply an ‘idea’ and was not yet anything final. We are still facilitating this process by consulting with all relevant parties.”

The Director General asked “To what end is the Belantara Foundation creating legally misleading directive maps. What are their interests? Who are they? Who needs them? We, as the authority in the field of environment and forestry, have no need at all for such directive maps.”

He concluded by rejecting the notion that his ministry would ever approve the proposed landscape conservation. “Neither APP nor the Belantara Foundation has ever received permission from us, as the authority in the matter, to create directive maps for APP’s landscape conservation, in particular where state forest areas are involved, in this case protection forests, conservation areas and production forests.”

With respect to the exclusion of the peat restoration indicative map issued by Indonesia's peat restoration agency (BRG) in mid-September from the directive maps of the landscape conservation posted on the website of the Belantara Foundation, Agus claimed that he had discussed the process of harmonizing these maps with Peat Restoration Agency Chief Nazir Foead.

“What Pak Nazir said to me was positive. I came to show him the maps. These are the BRG and Belantara maps of the Padang Sugihan Landscape, and we looked at ways in which we could harmonize them. It was just the two of us in the meeting. Pak Nazir said it was good and asked in what ways the BRG could help,” explained Agus (Nov 3).

When foresthints.news sought confirmation of this directly from the agency chief, Nazir denied ever having held a one-on-one discussion concerning the maps referred to by the Belantara CEO.

“I have never met with Pak Agus alone to discuss the APP-Belantara landscape conservation maps. I also never said that the APP-Belantara landscape conservation maps are positive and good. I have only met him once, when I heard about his experiences in financing REDD+ in Indonesia,” Nazir told foresthints.news on Tuesday (Nov 8).

Nazir added in a rising tone: “How could I speak positively and say things were good? I have never even seen the maps.”  In the Padang Sugihan landscape alone, three APP pulpwood concessions are located which last year were afflicted by peat fires. A spatial analysis conducted by the peat agency shows that if the peat restoration indicative map had been included in the APP-Belantara landscape conservation directive maps, more than half a million hectares of acacia plantation blocks distributed across APP’s pulpwood concessions would have to be restored.

This is largely because of the extensive burned peatlands and drained peat domes spread throughout the concessions of APP, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies.