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:

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.