Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NGOs letter to government and buyers

A coalition of Indonesian NGOs sent today a letter to the government and to the buyers. "Is now more than 100 days that people in Sumatra and Kalimantan suffered from uncontrollable haze” says the letter. The haze is coming from forest fires related to forest conversion and plantation management, especially on dried peat soil, and exacerbated by El Nino.

While the forest fires burned 1.7 millions hectares, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosfere, people is forced to live in an atmosphere heavily polluted by sulfur-dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, causing respiratory illness, especially to small children. "In Palangkaraya, on September 25, the pollution index reached 2,300, forcing people to wear masks in their home” says the letter. Schools are closed, airports works discontinuously, and even the neighbors countries, such as Singapore are affected by the haze. According to satellite data, says the letter, such fires mostly occurred in big concession companies, notably the pulp plantation linked to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)

Four APP suppliers have received a "Preventive Measures Notice" from the Government of Singapore for potential violations of Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, while some of them are being investigated by the Indonesian authorities. Forest fires are also located in the concessions of APP competitor, Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) and to palm oil plantations, such as those controlled by Golden Agri Resources (GAR, sister company of APP), Wilmar and CARGIL.
The letter demand to the government to stop issuing permits for pulp and palm oil plantations and to convict the companies linked to forest fires. The NGOs also ask to buyers and investor to stop any business with the companies involved in forest fires.

 The letter is signed by TUK Indonesia, ,HAKA, JMGJ, JMG South Sumatra, PUSAKA, Linkar Borneo PADI,HaKI, Persatuan Petani Jambi, Jikalahari

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Haze and forest fires linked to Asia Pulp & Paper, NGOs says

The Indonesian NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest (EoF) published a set of maps showing that fibre suppliers related to the forestry and paper conglomerate Sinar Mas / Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are linked to the forest fires and haze crisis.
Four SMG/APP suppliers in South Sumatra, PT. Bumi Andalas Permai, PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT. Rimba Hutani Mas and PT. Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, recently received “Preventative Measures Notices” from Singapore’s National Environmental Agency (NEA) for possible transgression of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act. The companies are having serious fire issues this year (Figure 1). EoF analysis of NASA’s FIRMS MODIS fire hotspots data revealed that:
  • 74% of all high confidence hotspots (or 66% of all hotspots) in Sumatra were detected on peat soil this year (1 January – 11 October) with serious impact on the global climate.
  • SMG/APP is the corporate group with the highest number of hotspots this year: 39% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra and 53% of all high confidence hotspots on Sumatra’s peat (Table 1).
  • The four SMG/APP companies who received NEA notices alone had 37% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra and 50% of all high confidence hotspots in Sumatra’s peat (Table 1).
  • One of them, PT. Bumi Mekar Hijau, was recently named suspect for allegedly setting fires by the Indonesian Police and Ministry of Environment and Forestry for the second time this year. The company also had a very high number of fire hotspots last year (2,755 hotspots with almost 40% at high confidence level).
SMG/APP, reports Eyes on the Forest suppliers have a long history of fires. The company’s concessions on Riau’s peat had even more fires than those in South Sumatra in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014. This year, Riau province as a whole has had much fewer hotspots than South Sumatra. But the situation may change, the El Niño season is expected to last.

Image: Eyes on the Forest, flames and smoke from the fires in SMG/APP’s four suppliers’ concessions visible on Landsat 8 images in September and October.

This is all bad news for climate and for business plans. A quarter of Sumatra’s carbon rich peat soil is inside pulpwood concessions which make the soil highly flammable and vulnerable to fire due to constant drainage necessary for their acacia plantation to survive.
With 44% of all Sumatran pulpwood concessions on peat, the constant fires and peat subsidence pose a serious question for the long-term sustainability of this business model. "SMG/APP and competitor Royal Golden Eagle/APRIL have 67% and 51%, respectively of their concessions in Sumatra on peat (Table 2). How long will they be able to produce wood to make paper? How reliable are their respective predictions for secure and “sustainable” wood supplies? Investors should take note" added Eyes on the Forest.
Since SMG/APP started to clear large tracts of peat forest in early 2000, peat experts and NGOs have called on them to not clear peat forest and develop plantations and the massive drainage system they require. The inherent risks of peat development, fires, subsidence and inundation, have been known for a long time. Yet, SMG/APP suppliers kept converting forest and draining peat - despite the long history of fires in many of their concessions.
SMG/APP suppliers seem to be unable to prevent fires and extinguish them once started on peat, resources continue to burn and carbon is going up in smoke. EoF calls on APP and all other peat concession holders to restore their peat areas wherever feasible, the easiest way to prevent fires.
SMG/APP announced the experimental retirement of 7,000 ha of peat plantation this year. But the company needs to go far beyond this “feel good” gesture. SMG/APP suppliers currently operate approximately 1.4 million hectare of concessions on peat in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The retirement of 0.5% of that huge land bank is clearly much too small a step for this very big company.
Considering the Sumatran paper industry’s likely extreme carbon footprint this year and the devastating impact it appears to be having on health and business of everybody living downwind it needs to do much, much more to prevent this from happening again.
"APP and APRIL, with their respective 1 and 0.5 million hectare restoration and conservation commitments, need to start taking real actions in their own priority peat landscapes of Senepis, Giam Siak Kecil" concluded Eyes on the Forest"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Singapore: supermarket chains remove all Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) products from their stores

Singaporean supermarket chains are removing all Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) products from their shelves. According to the newspaper StraitsTimes, NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket started to remove APP's products.
The Dairy Farm group, which operates chains such as Guardian, 7-Eleven, Cold Storage and Giant, has also stopped replenishing APP stock, but it will continue to sell existing items till they run out.
The actions come after the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) temporarily suspended the APP's exclusive distributor Universal Sovereign Trading's use of their green label pending further investigations.
The moves also come shortly after FairPrice and 16 other firms were asked by the Singapore Environment Council to sign a declaration form stating that they did not carry products from the five companies being investigated for their possible connection to the forest fires in Indonesia.
On Wednesday (Oct 7), the SEC sent the same form to Prime, Dairy Farm, Sheng Siong, Ikea, Unity Pharmacy and Watsons. FairPrice carries 14 housebrand paper products. Of these, two are sourced from APP through Universal Sovereign. The rest of the products remain unaffected.
The chain also carries 16 other APP related products from various brands - including Paseo, NICE and Jolly. All these items were pulled off the shelves at its over 290 outlets, including Cheers convenience stores, by 5pm on Wednesday.
Late last month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) began legal action against Singapore-listed APP and four Indonesian firms that it believes to be behind the burning.
FairPrice was the first to make the announcement on Wednesday morning, followed by the others later in the day.
Mr Seah Kian Peng, NTUC FairPrice's executive director, said that FairPrice has been proactively monitoring the situation over the past week.
"As a fair business partner, we reserved taking action pending further information and investigation by the authorities," he said. "Our decision to withdraw all APP products is a result of the temporary restriction of their Green Label certification."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

NGOs send a letter to Asia Pulp & Paper, urging reform of APP structures and practices

A group of NGOs sent a letter to APP director, Linda Wijaya, after a stakeholder engagement forum in Jakarta on October 5th. At the forum, APP presented information on how it is attempting to implement its Forest Conservation Policy and associated plans, and NGO’s raised the issues contained in this letter and sought assurances from APP that it will increase its efforts to quickly reform its structures and practices. The signatories made clear to APP that their re-engagement is not an endorsement of the company’s policies and practices and should not be used by the company to promote its products in the market place or seek additional finance.
See the letter at: