Friday, May 12, 2017

Too much hot air: paper's climate change impacts in Indonesia

A new report ‘Too Much Hot Air‘, details the shocking climate change impacts of the Indonesian pulp and paper industry through damage to peatlands, and highlights solutions in the form of ‘paludiculture’, with examples of good practice from local communities. The report is a discussion document, and it concludes with questions about we can move to a more sustainable future for Indonesian peatlands.

The pulp and paper industry in Indonesia has extensive tree plantations on drained peatlands. After drainage, the peat oxidizes, releasing carbon in the form of CO2 into the atmosphere. Drained peatland contributes more than half of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in addition to above-ground deforestation emissions, puts Indonesia among the world’s highest greenhouse gas emitters.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the Indonesian pulp and paper sector are estimated at 88 million tonnes of CO2 per year from peat oxidation, more than Finland’s entire national emissions. An additional unknown but probably even larger amount is released in periodic peat fire events, such as the one in 2015, which also caused life-threatening smog and haze.

Local communities in Indonesia are developing methods of managing peatlands in a responsible way, re-discovering traditional practices and experimenting with new methods of paludiculture, the practice of mixed crop production on undrained or re-wetted peat soils. However, the pulp and paper industry has not yet developed a corresponding paludiculture system at a sufficient scale to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and prevent excessive risk of fire and flooding. Urgent action is required to prevent a climate catastrophe.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Local communities protests in South Sumatra: "Restoration, not amnesty for corporate crime"

While governments and companies meet in Pelambang, South Sumatra, for the Bonn Challenge Meeting, local communities representatives coming from areas affected by plantations, organised together with NGOs a parallel meeting in the city.

Over 30 members of communities from areas degraded by industrial plantation for pulp, paper and oil palm development gathered with over 20 Civil Society Organizations from South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, West, Central and East Kalimantan yesterday for the “Community Based Restoration Conference” in Palembang that ran in parallel to the Bonn Challenge Meeting. Community members and CSOs shared their experience about alternatives to industrial plantations and community efforts to improve livelihoods and restore degraded ecosystem and discussed the conditions and requirements for successful restoration efforts. The conference participants also developed the following statement to be shared with delegates to the Bonn Challenge meeting taking place today in Palembang.
They also opened a banner with the text: "Restoration, not amnesty for corporate crime"

Community Members from Areas Degraded by Pulp, Paper and Oil Palm Development and Civil Society Organizations Send Message to Bonn Challenge Delegates that Communities and CSO Must be Involved in Ecosystem Restoration Efforts and that Restoration Efforts Must Include the Recognition of their Customary Rights to the Land.
Meanwhile, as APP is presenting its own Forest Conservation Policy alongside with the Belantara Foundation at the Bonn Challenge meeting, reports that in the last two years APP in South Sumatra recently built new canals the length of Bonn to Brussels. According to a Forestry Ministry secretariat Genera, Bambang Hendroyono, three APP companies in South Sumatra province (PT BAP, PT BMH and PT SBAWI) have reported to the ministry through their annual reports, replete with maps, that they constructed around 200km of new canals in 2015-2016,” said Bambang.

Monday, April 03, 2017

APP supplier caught doing illegal activity

In December 2015 the Indonesian President signed a new regulation regulation on peat protection. The regulation and the related implementation rules issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry forbid any new canal developments on peatlands.
Last month, a ministry inspection found that Asia Pulp & paper supplier PT. Sekato Pratama Makmur (PT. SPM) was opening a new canal in peat soil. The PT. SPM concession is in the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu landscape in Sumatra’s Riau province, a critical area declared UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve
The reserve houses around 189 species of plants, 29 of which are classified as endangered under CITES, Appendix 1 and 3.Several species of animals found in the reserve are classified as endangered under CITES Appendix 1 including the Sumatran elephant and Sumatran tiger.
“This new canal construction is a flagrant violation of the newly-revised government regulation (on peat protection),” Karliansyah, the Ministry’s Director General of Pollution and Environmental Damage Control, said to
This is the most blatant violation of peat regulations by an APP supplier, following a list f at least 5 cases of conflicts between APP suppliers an the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry about illegal planting of acacia on burned peat.

Monday, March 20, 2017

NGOs send a letter to Asia Pulp & Paper

A group of nearly 60 Indonesian and international NGOs sent a letter to APP director, Linda Wijaya, to express their concern regarding a new possible supplier, PT. Bangun Rimba Sejahtera (PT BRS). According to a recent NGO report, the company has a concession laying up to 85% on land used by local communities for their livelihoods.
The report suggests that 100,000 people in West Bangka Regency could be affected by PT BRS operations, and that 21 villages (the majority of the affected villages) have expressed their opposition to the presence of PT BRS. The report finds that PT BRS has failed to undertake a credible Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process. The concession, in order to be viable, must use lands claimed and used by local communities, consequently risks further igniting social unrest, undermining local livelihoods and creating serious land conflict.
The NGOs ask APP not to choose PT BRS as supplier. Please, find the letter here

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Proposed wood source for APP’s controversial OKI Mill sparks

A potential wood supplier for one of the world’s largest pulp and paper mills does not have the consent of local communities
A joint investigation report released in English  by Indonesian NGOs titled “Local Communities Reject PT. Bangun Rimba Sejahtera, Potential Supplier to APP’s OKI Mill”, details the opposition of local communities to the development of industrial pulpwood plantations on their lands in Banka Belitung, Indonesia. Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is considering purchasing wood from these plantations as a fiber source for its controversial new mill PT. OKI Pulp and Paper mill, despite the ongoing conflicts. The OKI Pulp and Paper mill is one of the world’s largest and has been criticized over concerns that its high demand for wood fiber will drive new land conflicts, breaking APP’s social and environmental commitments.
The report shows that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is currently considering PT. Bangun Rimba Sejahtera (BRS) as a fiber supplier for its OKI mill, despite BRS being rejected by a majority of the communities living within and adjacent to the BRS plantation concession.
“One hundred thousand people could be negatively affected by these plantations,” said Ratno Budi of Walhi Banka Belitung. “A majority of these communities have declared their objection to the plantation and to the presence of BRS on their community lands.”
Communities have organized demonstrations and written letters and petitions to government officials opposing the BRS plantation, as their customary lands, which will be affected, are the primary source of livelihood for most community members. The report shows that communities were not adequately consulted about the project and did not give their consent to the plantation. It also documents how BRS has included police and army in public meetings, with an intimidating effect on local residents.
“APP has made a commitment that any new concessions or fiber used to supply the OKI mill will respect the rights of affected communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC),” said Aidil Fitri, director of HaKi. “If APP brings BRS on as a supplier it would clearly be breaking its own sustainability policies and its promise to respect human rights.”
“There is a lot of concern that the OKI mill will drive more social conflict, peatland drainage and deforestation” said Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network. “This is a test case for APP. Pulp and paper customers and investors will be watching whether APP will be true to its word and avoid suppliers like BRS.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

APP still under investigation in Singapore

The newspaper Straits Times report that Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is still under investigation by Singapore authorities, as the company has not provided enough information to the investigating the fires and haze that affected Singapore in 2015.
The authorities are investigating according to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.
The four APP suppliers under investigations are Bumi Andalas Permai, Bumi Mekar Hijau, Sebangun Bumi Andalas Woods Industries and Rimba Hutani Mas. Straits Times reports that they have not responded to Singaporean investigating authority despite repeated reminders.
According to the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, APP subsidiary submitted false data about the burned peat.
In October last year, the ministry asked to pulp plantation companies to submit data and maps about the peatland burned in 2015’s fires. According to a new regulation, burned peat areas cannot be replanted with acacia. PT BAP, an APP subsidiary in South Sumatra, submitted incorrect data, omitting large areas of burned peat, as discovered during a field inspection. “The ministry data clearly delineates this broad expanse of land to be composed of burned peat from 2015. In other words, the data submitted by PT BAP to the ministry was false,” said ministry’s director general San Afri Awang to Forest Hints. “First of all, PT BAP claimed that it was not replanting burned areas, and this claim has turned out to be false. Secondly, the company failed to obey the two letters from the minister (ordering the removal of newly-replanted acacia). Thirdly, they reported incorrect data on the distribution of 2015’s burned peatlands to the ministry.”

Thursday, March 02, 2017

APP uninvites selected press from visiting controversial mill

According to, journalist Robin Hicks writing in Eco-Business, recounts how he was “uninvited” from an APP press trip to its OKI mill at the 11th hour. APP told Hicks it was not ready to tell the mill’s sustainability story, which was what he was after, and that the press trip would focus on the commercial and financial aspect of the new mill. APP said they would reschedule for a more suitable trip for the sustainability press at a later date. Hicks wrote he had informed APP when asked, that besides wanting to understand the workings of the mill, he also would like to know how such a big mill could avoid breaking the company’s zero-deforestation pledge. When Hicks’ editor asked if he could still go along on the trip, APP said no and that they would not host him even if he showed up in Jakarta. Hicks also discovered that Mongabay’s Indonesian editor, Sapariah Saturi, was also suddenly uninvited. But two other journalists – Singapore’s The Straits Times environment and science correspondent Audrey Tan and the Nikkei Asian Review Indonesia correspondent Wataru Suzuki – were not uninvited. Hicks said apparently this was because their stories would focus on the “business and finance” aspects of the mill, not sustainability. But Hicks thinks stories about the OKI mill inadvertently would have to include its environmental implications to some degree, and that is what APP was concerned with, particularly with international green groups scrutinizing Indonesia’s pulp and paper sector. As he says, it would be interesting to see the kind of coverage that would emerge from a media trip where some members of the press were intentionally left out after being invited. Read here the full story: