Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pulp & paper industry blamed for forest fires in Indonesia

Pulp & Paper industry is among the drivers of peat and forest fires in Sumatra. According to Eyes on the Forest, pulpwood plantation got most hotspots detected and published on an online map. 1797 hotspots are linked to the paper industry, with 930 in APRIL concessions, and 867 in concessions related to APP. It is Further 1361 hotspots were detected in palm oil concessions, and 311 protected areas. The remaining 3469 hotspot are located in areas beyond those uses including out of concession areas, and selective logging concessions.
At least 6772 fires hotspots were detected accumulatively in Riau Province in period of 1-23 June 2013, based on MODIS Fires satellite monitoring that analyzed by Eyes on the Forest this week. Eyes on the Forest said that the hotspots number could not represent that the companies were involved in setting fires, but it needed further groundtruthing and investigation to find out perpetrators of fires detected in the areas.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the police and law enforcers to investigate the forest and land fires which cost millions of people in Riau, and other parts in Sumatra, as well as neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
Many business groups and corporate denied their involvement in setting fires and causing regional haze as they claimed they conducted "zero burning policy." "However, we need thorough investigation and groundtruthing to find out real perpetrators and masterminds, so the companies’ claim is not just zero commitment," said Rico Kurniawan, director executive of WALHI Riau chapter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Indonesia on fire, paper and palm oil industry blamed

The National Agency for Disaster Management of Indonesia (BNPB) says that the number of fires in Indonesia have increased in June, especially in Riau province, Sumatra. Other areas that experienced an increasing number of fires were Jambi and West Kalimantan. The peatland fires in Riau which started last week have affected not only Riau but also neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia. Malaysia also decided to temporarily close 200 schools and banned open burning in some areas due to the haze. The Pollutant Standards Index, Singapore's main measurement for air pollution, is above the "hazardous" classification that can aggravate respiratory ailments.
According to the World Resources Institute, based on NASA satellite data, most of the fires are located in the concessions of two industrial conglomerates with headquarters in Singapore: Sinar Mas and Raja Garuda Mas, which respectively control the two paper giants in Indonesia, Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL, and the palm oil producers Golden Agri Resources and Raja Garuda Mas. Greenpeace noted that half of the hotspots detected should have been protected by Indonesia`s forest conversion moratorium. "The fact that fires continue to affect the regions shows how weak is the forest protection enforcement schemes in Indonesia," said Yuyun Indradi, of Greenpeace Indonesia. Indradi also said that companies should also be responsible for ensuring their supply chain, commit to zero deforestation and stop unlawful practices such as clearing land by burning forests and damaging the country`s air. According to Greenpeace`s analysis of the current revision of the moratorium, map also found that there are more than 10 million hectares of primary forest and about 32 million hectares of secondary forests in Indonesia are not protected by law. In each revision, the number of forests legally protected under the moratorium continues to decrease - more than six million hectares, has been reduced since 2011.
"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently told Greenpeace the government will work harder to strengthen environmental protection and prevent reduction of the protected forest, This is a weakening signal and should be strengthened," said Indradi. More than 600,000 hectares of peat lands, primary forests and secondary forests-rich carbon content which if destroyed will contribute greatly to Indonesia`s greenhouse gas emissions, have been removed from the latest moratorium map. The lack of current data and transparency create confusion about where the actual protected forest moratorium. Based on best available data, forest moratorium is overlapping with 5.5 million hectares of forest whose licenses have been given to serve as timber and oil palm plantations, selective logging or mining.
The Government should review the concessions that have been granted, increase transparency in terms of licensing, create a low carbon land database as a credible alternative to the high-carbon land destruction and make a clear plan of land use.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sumatran elephant at risk

WWF urged the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to immediately enforce the legislation on elephant deaths. According to the environmental organization, over 100 elephants have been found dead in Riau, Sumatra, since 2004, where the government failed to enforce the law. "In May, there have been three elephants found dead in Tesso Nilo," said Syamsidar, of WWF.

The latest elephant-killing case occured in Tesso Nilo National Park, Pelalawan District, Riau Province in May 2013. Two elephant corpses were found by WWF team and TNNP office who were doing their regular patrol on Friday, May 31st 2013 and they are allegedly to be poisoned.

"There are two wild elephants which were found dead, one is a young elephant and the other is its mother and were probably still from the same group." Head of Tesso Nilo National Park Office, Kupin Simbolon, told to Antara News.

Furthermore, tentative analysis based on the condition of the scene states that the two corpses were alleged to be poisoned, some unidentified utensils were also found around the bodies. As the two bodies were not decomposed yet, the team estimated that they were killed 2-3 days ago.

"There should be immediate response by the government to every suspicious death of the endangered species by doing investigations and examinations. Because every death of the major species means a loss of the country’s assets, moreover, Sumatra elephants are species in critical condition” said Sunarto, species expert of WWF Indonesia, in a press release last week.

“The condition today is very devastating. There have been several numbers of dead elephants found and we promise to not let this continue to happen” Kupin added.

Though associated institutions (including Riau Natural Resources Conservation Office and Veterinary Office of Pelalawan District) has sent the Autopsy Team to resolve the dead-elephant case reported by WWF, there is still no real action on the case until now, the environmental organization said in a press release said. The Tesso Nilo National Park Office only secured the tusks of the bodies that were found in Ukui Sector.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Child labour in APP’s main supplier revealed

Police have saved eight children working for main supplier of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) in Pulau Muda, Pelalawan district, and nabbed a contractor recruiting the children from North Sumatra province, media report said. Police of Asahan district have evacuated the children to their homes in Kisaran, North Sumatra, after working at APP’s PT Arara Abadi in Kerumutan forest block for four months when they were not paid completely by the employer, reported based on Kompas TV coverage (31 May 2013).

The children ranging from 16 to 18 years old were promised by the perpetrator, Ali Barda Harahap, to get high salary when they were recruited, said police commissioner Soni M. Nugroho, chief of operation division of Asahan Police Office. There were 10 children recruited previously, where they have to work in nursery division of PT Arara Abadi and have the daiy job from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM, commissioner Nugroho said.

"They are promised to get big salary therefore they were allowed by their parents to go to Riau,” Nugroho said. The children were not paid by the employer and the Pelalawan Police will probe this case further, he added.

A spokesperson of PT Arara Abadi, Musherizal Yatim, denied that his company was responsible for such a crime. “It is responsibility of the contractor CV Tunas Nauli Basa as it’s a sourcing [system],” he told TV One last weekend.

Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of Jikalahari, urged PT Arara Abadi and APP to be responsible for these human trafficking and child slavery despite it is directly perpetrated by the contractor. "It is so shocking that public know human trafficking and child slavery also happens in pulp and paper industry. Human rights issue is also a crucial thing that APP should address by its Forest Conservation Policy as the company pledge publicly," Rasyid told Eyes on the Forest News. He suspected that this kind of crime could be commonplace in acacia and palm oil plantations, therefore he urged the police to investigate it thoroughly including alleged involvement of APP’s main supplier PT Arara Abadi.

APP says on its FCP socialization sheet shared to NGOs in Pekanbaru in February that the company is implementing principles of "respect to human rights," and "acknowledge and respect workers’ rights."