Monday, May 22, 2017

Pulp & paper industry: social impacts and little development

While RAN is voicing local communities affected by pulp & paper industry in Indonesia, the Environment and Forest Minister says that this industry gives a very marginal contribution to Indonesia’s GDP: less than 1%.  Ran published last week an online gallery of photos and quotes to amplify the voices of inspiring Indigenous and frontline leaders in Indonesia, affected by pulp and paper plantations. The goal of this vibrant site is to hold pulp and paper companies responsible to their policy promises by amplifying the voices of those on the frontlines. 

After years of campaigning, many corporations have committed to eliminate forest destruction and human rights abuses from their business. Despite these promises, hundreds of communities are still suffering the impacts of having their traditional forests and lands seized and cleared for industrial pulp plantations. Together, we demand more than paper promises. 

Across Indonesia and the world, frontline communities are still fighting to get their lands back, to have their forests protected, and to have their culture and rights respected. The images and interviews below are from the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, in the villages of Lubuk Mandarsah, Op. Bolus, and Aek Lung. These are only a subset of villages that have been negatively impacted by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), APRIL, Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL), and other companies that have adopted strong policies that should—if properly implemented—protect communities and forests. 

About the impact of plantation industry, in a talk with, the Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya pointed out that 2015’s peat fires led to a decline in Indonesia’s economic growth that year. “Indonesia’s economic growth didn’t reach, let alone surpass, 5% in 2015. Instead, it hovered at around just 4.9%,” the minister said.

“The Minister of Industry, in his letter to me, wrote that palm oil accounts for 3% of Indonesian GDP. Of course, these are palm oil plantations in mineral soils and peatlands. This figure means that 97% of Indonesia’s GDP does not come from palm oil,” the Environment and Forestry Minister explained, adding that The minister added that the pulp & paper industry contributed less than 0.76% to Indonesia’s GDP in 2016.




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.