Thursday, September 25, 2014

NGOs coalition lodges corruption cases against 27 pulp suppliers

A coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations lodged corruption cases involving 27 forestry companies in Riau to anti-corruption commission (KPK) in Jakarta Tuesday, media reports said. Coalition of Anti-Forest Mafia (Koalisi Anti-Mafia Hutan/KAMH) filed 27 pulpwood suppliers associated to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) for allegedly bribing Riau government officials for issuing licenses in period of 2002-2006.


 

“We hope KPK to be more progressive in scrutinizing corporations involved in Riau forestry corruption as they also obtained licenses which caused State losses and forest ecosystem destruction in the province,” said Evan Sembiring from Walhi Riau, one member of coalition.

The KAMH coalition consists of WALHI, Jikalahari, Riau Corruption Trial, Indonesia Corruption Watch, Yayasan Auriga, YLBHI, Transparency International Indonesia, IWGFF, ELSAM, and Indonesia Legal Roundtable.

Evan Sembiring said, KPK could bring corporates to the justice as suspects of corruption as the cases of officials had been definitely penalized by the Law. The alleged companies could be sanctioned with imprisonment of their management, fined and license annulment.

EoF learns that forestry-related corruption cases in Riau had punished six officials to jail in the province including district heads, forestry service heads and governor. However, none of companies involved in the corruption are prosecuted despite they are partners in crime as final decision announced by judges saying the defendants found guilty in collaborating with companies to cause losses to State.

Evan Sembiring said 7 of 27 companies allegedly bribed former Indragiri Hilir district Rusli Zainal and former Indragiri Hulu district head Tamsir Rachman in getting logging licenses of 120,745 hectares forest in 2002-2006 that converted into pulpwood plantation. They are PT. Artelindo Wirautama, PT. Citra Sumber Sejahtera, PT. Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT. Mitra Kembang Selaras, PT. Sumber Maswana Lestari, PT Bina Duta Laksana, and PT Riau Indo Agropalma.

In Siak and Pelalawan districts, majority of 27 companies, have allegedly bribed Arwin A.S., Azmun Jaafar, Asral Rachman, Syuhada Tasman, Burhanuddin Husin, and Rusli Zainal as then Governor in getting logging licenses. All six officials have been sentenced by the Anti-corruption Court ranging from 4 and half year to 14 year imprisonment

Evan Sembiring said, KPK could bring corporates to the justice as suspects of corruption as the cases of officials had been definitely penalized by the Law. The alleged companies could be sanctioned with imprisonment of their management, fined and license annulment.

The 27 companies that sued by the NGOs coalition are: PT Artelindo Wiratama, PT Citra Sumber Sejahtera, PT Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT Mitra Kembang Selaras, PT Sumber Maswana Lestari, PT Bina Duta Laksana, PT Riau Indo Agropalma, PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari, PT Selaras Abadi Utama, PT Uniseraya, CV Tuah Negeri, CV Mutiara Lestari, CV Putri Lindung Bulan, PT Mitra Tani Nusa Sejati, PT Rimba Mutiara Permai, CV Bhakti Praja Mulia, PT Triomas FDI, PT Satria Perkasa Agung, PT Mitra Hutani Jaya, CV Alam Lestari, PT Madukoro, CV Harapan Jaya, PT Bina Daya Bintara, PT Seraya Sumber Lestari, PT Balai Kayang Mandiri, PT Rimba Mandau Lestari, and PT National Timber Forest.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Environmental Paper Network Welcomes Asia Pulp and Paper’s Announcement.

The Environmental Paper Networks (EPN) of Europe and North America cautiously welcome today’s announcement by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) of a plan to work with global and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to restore and support the conservation of one million hectares of rainforest across Indonesia.
With its announcement, APP commits to all elements of "The First Test", a set of Performance Milestones developed by the EPN in September last year (1), to guide the company towards ending its controversial practices. The Milestones’ scope is not intended as a standard for responsible paper production, but rather as a first step towards activity consistent with the EPN and EEPN Common Vision for sustainable paper production, trade and use (2).

"APP’s announcement is a significant step forward towards addressing the legacy of its extensive negative impact on forests, peatlands and communities in Indonesia," said Sergio Baffoni, of the European Environmental Paper Network.

"Resolving and compensating for the company's past legacy of environmental and social impacts will require a number of years. Independent third party auditing to verify the implementation of these commitments by APP will help customers and investors to determine the actual progress towards the Performance Milestones in due course. We hope that these milestones can also help to guide action by other pulp and paper companies in Indonesia and elsewhere to address their controversial heritage,” said Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network in North America.

The forest conservation and restoration commitment is equivalent to the approximate area of plantations operated by APP suppliers in 2013 and thus represents a 1 for 1 approach to addressing the company's legacy (3). Indonesia's rainforests are some of the most biologically diverse forests on the planet. They provide livelihoods to millions of people, they sustain the last habitats of Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orang-utan, and their peat bogs sequester a massive amount of carbon. These forests however have been experiencing one of the world's highest rates of deforestation due to development of industrial plantations for commodities such as palm oil and pulp and paper.

For many years, APP has been criticised for its extensive clearance of tropical forests in Sumatra and Borneo, many of which were located on deep peat bogs and/or were the habitat of critically endangered elephants, tigers, rhinos and orang-utans. The deforestation has led to numerous conflicts with local and indigenous communities whose tenure rights were ignored.

After 30 years of operation, in February 2013 APP announced a new “Forest Conservation Policy". The EPN's "The First Test" was a collective response to this policy by many NGOs, articulating a set of Performance Milestones that APP needed to achieve to address the gaps and weaknesses of their policy. These included the need for due process in ensuring local communities give full and prior-informed consent to use of their land, the need for forest restoration or compensation, closing of loop-holes in the policy regarding forest acquisitions, addressing damage to peat land, and ensuring independent third-party monitoring of progress in implementing the plan.

NGOs are now urging Indonesia's second-largest pulp and paper producer APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International), part of the large conglomerate Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE), to also comply with the EPN Milestones.

The Environmental Paper Network is a coalition of 122 NGOs from 26 countries including Indonesia who share a Common Vision for a future where paper is produced and used sustainably.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Sergio Baffoni, +49 162 3812 528 Email: sergio.baffoni@environmentalpaper.eu

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
(1) EPN Performance Milestones: The First Test: http://environmentalpaper.org/milestones/
(2) EPN Common Vision: http://environmentalpaper.org/our-vision/ 
(3) EPN expects that the commitment to restore and conserve 1m ha of natural ecosystems will be in addition to the approximately 260,000 ha of natural forests the company is required by law to protect in its 2.6m ha of plantations anyway.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Forest Advocates to Staples: It’s Too Soon To Buy From Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)

Activists with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) staged a protest today at a Staples store in El Cerrito, Ca to communicate their objection to the office supply giant’s recent decision to resume purchasing paper from Indonesia’s highly controversial company Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Staples was one of dozens of major customers to cut APP as a paper supplier due to its well documented involvement in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses in Indonesia.

After successful market campaigns over APP’s ties to deforestation and land grabs began to cost APP a significant portion of its market share, the company issued a Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) in February 2013 promising broad reforms and a halt to further rainforest destruction. APP is still in the early stages of implementing these environmental and social commitments and has yet to communicate its plans for addressing key gaps in the FCP. These gaps have been summarized in the Environmental Paper NetworksPerformance Targets and Milestones for APP document, endorsed by Greenpeace, WWF, RAN and Indonesian NGO WBH among others.

“Given APP’s track record of broken commitments and the fact that APP has yet to finish environmental studies, put forest conservation plans in place or get independent verification that they are actually working, Staples is jumping the gun by renewing business with APP.” said Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia director at Rainforest Action Network. “Our experience suggests that companies are more motivated to undertake robust implementation of commitments if rewarding such implementation comes after, not before, it is carried out and independently verified.”

Fundamental elements of the FCP have yet to be completed or evaluated by key stakeholders or independent verifiers. These include High Conservation Value assessments, High Carbon Stock assessments, peatland studies, conflict mapping and attempts to resolve land conflicts across APP and its suppliers’ concessions.

These field assessments and studies must form the basis for the forest management and conservation plans needed to protect and restore these values. Without them, there is no way to evaluate whether APP’s promises will be reflected in the company’s operations on the ground. Similarly, APP’s commitment to respect the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected communities, including those that will be impacted by APP’s proposed new pulp mill development in South Sumatra, has yet to be implemented and the communities in question have yet to be fully informed or given a chance to give or withhold their consent to the proposed development.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

In a week Riau hotspots notches 1605 as 474 found in pulp concessions

The second week of month showed the most fire hotspots found in Riau province since fires and haze returned from January. There are total 1605 hotspots detected in Riau by Eyes on the Forest based on NASA Modis Fire monitoring in period of 13-19 February. By concessions, pulpwood plantation or officially called industrial timber plantation (HTI) 474 hotspots found which APRIL’s affiliated concessions had 245, while its competitor APP’s with 223 hotspots. Palm oil plantations which had complicated licensing had 310 hotspots where PT Bumi Nusa Reksa Sejati, PT Trisetya Usaha Mandiri, and PT Triomas FDI are three concessions with most hotspots found in the week. While, HPH selective logging concessions added to both areas, there are 796 hotspots inside all concessions, meaning 49 percent of total Riau 1605, Eyes on the Forest learned.

Bengkalis district as hotspots analysis in the previous weeks showed, still ranked the area in Riau with most hotspots detected with total 717 in the week when on 14 February recorded 611 hotspots.

In pulpwood suppliers, PT Rokan Rimba Lestari concession, an APRIL affiliated company, showed constant appearance of hotspots distribution. Some suppliers that detected with many hotspots are PT Arara Abadi - Siak (APP) with 18 hotspots on 18 February; On 16 February there are 135 hotspots inside HTI concessions, where PT RRL with 26, PT Sumatera Riang Lestari block 4 (Rupat, APRIL) 13, PT SRL block 5 with 17 and PT Suntara Gaja Pati (SGP, APP) with 17 hotspots. On 14 February, PT RAPP Pelalawan (APRIL) had 9 hotspots, PT RAPP Pulau Padang 9, and PT RAPP Sungai Kampar 3.

In every time forest fires and haze blanket Riau province, several companies has always become the places where hotspots detected by satellite.

On Wednesday, at least 22 flights delayed in Pekanbaru’s airport, which failed the visits of officials, senator, and politicians to attend the ceremony of newly installed Riau Governor, Anas Makmun. Thousands of schoolchildren are told to stay home by the local government this week due to worsening air quality by escalated haze.

A Malaysia-investment palm oil company, PT Adei Plantation, is tried in Pekanbaru District Court over the charge of setting fires in June-July 2013, while other 7 palm oil and pulpwood suppliers named suspects and in line to be prosecuted.v

Thursday, February 06, 2014

APP one year forest conservation policy anniversary

 On February 5th Asia Pulp & paper the 1st year anniversary of its Forest Conservation Policy. To celebrate, APP organized a round table inviting Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and WWF.
A year ago, with the launch of its FCP, APP committed an end to all deforestation activities across the 2.6m hectares of land in Indonesia on which it operates. Under the agreement APP pledged that all of its suppliers would adhere to the moratorium and that it would develop a system of sustainable forestry and conservation through work with the government, local communities and businesses.
“A year on, despite many challenges along the way, we are pleased that the moratorium is holding and that APP remains serious about delivering on its commitments.” commented Greenpeace.


"Aaside from the commendable cessation of logging activities in most of the operations of APP and its supply chain, even after one year, it is too soon to confirm that tangible conservation or social benefits have taken place on the ground as a result of APP’s policy." wrote Lafcadio Cortesi, on Rainforest Action Network blog. "Most of the progress APP has made in the past year has been in collecting HCV and HCS data – most of which has yet to be shared making an assessment impossible – and in setting up teams, systems and processes such as consultants to conduct HCV assessments, protocols for standard operating procedures and the “dash board.” These are laudable and an essential component of implementing and broadening the company’s commitments, however they do not allow for evaluating whether promised reforms are having any impact" added Cortesi."It is premature for potential customers and investors to consider establishing business ties with APP before such audit criteria have been agreed and before it has been independently verified that APP is meeting them."

More skeptical is the comment released by the NGOs ntwork Eyes on the Forests: “Even the crucial commitments to save all natural forests, HCV and HCS areas have not become the reality. None of the assessments APP promised have been completed, so one of the most crucial outcome of the policy – decision on which areas would be protected by APP is still pending”.
“Although APP have invited many civilian society organizations for dialog based on APP’s committed for changes, our appreciation for these processes is limited because much of our inputs were not adopted by the company” added Muslim Rasyid from Riau based group Jikalahari ”for example, in development of policy implementation protocols, HCV and HCS assessments.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

WALHI Jambi: Forestry giant allegedly evaded $15m in taxes

Sinar Mas Group allegedly defrauded the Indonesian government of $15 million by avoiding reforestation taxes on 2,000 hectares in Jambi province. The land is reportedly managed by subsidiaries of Sinar Mas Group which do not have the proper concession permits. The discovery came after analysis of public reports and an audit conducted last year by BPK (The Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia), as reported by the non-profit Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), an Indonesian affiliate of Friends of the Earth.
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"Sinar Mas evaded reforestation taxes through three subsidiaries to the detriment of as much as 181.7 billion rupiah [~$15 million]," said Musri Nauli, Executive Director of WALHI Jambi. Musri spoke with Mongabay-Indonesia after a demonstration outside the High Court in Jambi on January 9th. He hopes the issue will provide new momentum, and encourage the Indonesian government to investigate other crimes committed by Sinar Mas Group, a conglomerate that owns a web of companies in Indonesia.
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"So far, the Jambi Attorney has been fairly good about looking into corruption cases involving local officials, so we hope this case will also be thoroughly investigated," Mursi said.
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On January 8, the High Court questioned the head of the Jambi Provincial Forestry Department, Irmansyah Rachman, about the status of the 2,000 hectares, and about allegations that tax evasion and other violations have cost the state millions of dollars. The Assistant Special Criminal Attorney of Jambi then commissioned a joint team comprising the Attorney's office and the Provincial Forestry Department to investigate the issue.
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When asked for comment, a representative at Sinar Mas Group's PR office in Jambi, Taufiqurahman, told Mongabay-Indonesia they are waiting to hear the results of the investigation.
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"There is a new process for verifying locations, and we submit to and respect all the legal processes undertaken by the Attorney," Taufiqurahman said. <p>

In addition to the tax evasion allegations, WALHI Jambi is also requesting the government conduct investigations into other crimes committed by Sinar Mas Group, and thoroughly review the Sinar Mas subsidiaries operating in the area. <p>

Sinar Mas Group began operation in Jambi Province in 1990, and now controls 59% of the 1.3 million hectares of province's forest plantations. The group's expansion targets would put them in control of 1.5 million hectares, or a fifth of the total land area of Jambi.
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"These conditions will increase the conflicts between the company, the public and the wildlife, as well as increase the risk of natural disasters such as floods and droughts," Mursi said.
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"With a population of over 3 million in an area of 5.1 million hectares, the people of Jambi are faced with limited access and limited management options due to the aggressive practices of timber plantation, oil palm, and mining companies in Jambi," Musri said. He then reiterated WALHI Jambi's commitment to oversee the legal proceedings.
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"We will continue to monitor the legal process undertaken by the government of Jambi concerning this case," Musri said, "However, if after 3 months this case has not progressed, we will take it to the national level."
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The three subsidiaries suspected of tax evasion are: PT. Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), PT. Rimba Hutani Mas (RHS), and PT. Tebo Multi Agro (TMA). All three are timber plantations owned by Sinar Mas and operate in five districts in Jambi: Tanjung Jabung Barat, Tanjung Jabung Timur, Batanghari, Muaro Jambi and Tebo.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peatlands clearing in Kalimantan despite moratorium

RPHK (Relawan Pemantau Hutan Kalimantan), an NGO coalition in Kalimantan (Relawan Pemantau Hutan Kalimantan - RPHK) released a report revealing that the "forest conservation policy" of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) / Sinar Mas Forestry (SMG) announced in February failed to protect up to 1,400 hectares of natural forest in West Kalimantan province. Field investigation and Landsat image analysis shot that these forests were cleared inside PT Daya Tani Kalbar concession, after APP's self-imposed moratorium on logging and land clearing form 1st February.
APP had excluded these forests rom the moratorium in their "moratorium map" despite being on peat and potential habitat of Bornean orangutan and Proboscis monkey, both endangered according to IUCN Red List and protected Indonesian law.
"APP does not appear to take its new forest policy serious," said Sulhani, Director of Yayasan Titian/ RPHK Coordinator. "Instead of protecting forests in this concession, APP’s supplier focused on deforestation before and even after the moratorium in this concession which still has by far the largest remaining natural forest among APP’s 10 suppliers in Kalimantan."

According to APP data, PT Daya Tani Kalbar (DTK) was among the 15 suppliers in Indonesia who had harvested natural forest wood up to the moratorium.
Recently, APP data revealed that the 15 suppliers apparently engaged in very large last minute clearance and harvested more tropical forest wood than APP’s pulp mills needed. APP claimed that only 56% of the natural forest wood harvested before the moratorium (899,663 m3 out of the 1,606,098 m3) had been received by APP’s mills by the self-set deadline of August 31, 2013.
An RPHK investigation in November 2013 and historical satellite image analysis between 30 January and 22 November found that DTK continued to clear natural forest on peat soil in three areas long after the APP moratorium. "The clearance of up to 1,400 hectares of natural forest by DTK after the moratorium is in clear violation of APP’s policy. It was done without completed HCV (high conservation value), HCS (high carbon stock) and peat expert assessments," said Syamsul Rusdi, deputy director of Link-AR Borneo.
Despite a joint field verification by APP, TFT, Greenpeace and JPIK Focal Point in West Kalimantan in September 2013, this continuing forest clearance was not reported by APP and TFT.
“It is shameful that APP and its consultant The Forest Trust (TFT) neither prevented DTK continuing to violate the policy nor publicy disclosed its policy breach,” added Sulhani.
"These repeated violations of APP’s no-deforestation policy show how important truly independent audits are" says Ian Hilman of WWF-Indonesia. "CSOs will continue monitoring the companies’ forestry operations in the field to inform the public of what is really happening on the ground and to ensure that APP improve its transparency."

APP subsidiaries involved in Ramin harvesting in 2012

 Latest report published by Greenomics Indonesia, an NGO, disclosed Tuesday that two suppliers of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) in South Sumatra and West Kalimantan provinces had found clearing and supplying protected Ramin logs.
The Investigation by Ministry of Forestry was conducted in responding Greenpeace report “The Ramin Paper Trail” (March 2012) which now has proved that PT Rimba Hutani Mas and PT Kalimantan Subur Permai, the two APP subsidiaries, involved in felling and supplying ramin logs to APP pulp mill.

Greenomics Indonesia said it obtained a copy of the full Ministry of Forestry investigative report some time ago. “Surprise, surprise, the report shows that the suppliers of illegal ramin logs mentioned in the Greenpeace report turn out to be owned by the Sinar Mas Group (APP/Sinarmas Forestry.) In fact, their head offices are located at the same address as APP headquarters in Jakarta,” the report said.
The Greenomics report said that the publication, “at the very least, be used as a reference by the public that suppliers of illegal ramin logs, which APP claims are independent suppliers, are in fact APP subsidiaries.”
According to the Ministry of Forestry’s investigative report, two subsidiaries of the Sinar Mas Group (APP/Sinarmas Forestry) supplied ramin logs to the APP mill. It needs to be stressed here that this finding is based on various legal documents in the possession of the Ministry of Forestry, including documents submitted by the companies themselves to the Ministry of Forestry, which documents were subsequently approved by the ministry.
According to these documents, there is no doubt whatsoever that the two suppliers are in fact subsidiaries of the Sinar Mas Group (APP / Sinarmas Forestry).