JAKARTA — Recent finding shows Indonesian giant company Asian Pulp and Paper still lacks of commitment in implementing the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP)—which was signed on 1 February three years ago, the Coalition Against Forest Mafia stated Tuesday.
The finding—conducted by Jikalahari, one of the coalition member—found the APP operation has yet met improvement regarding several violations in the field. The analysis was delivered in a press conference in Jakarta on 28 June 2016.
According to Jikalahari Coordinator Woro Supartinah, her organization found APP is still operating under the same old patterns of “business as usual” without concerns on environmental sustainability. The FCP, a promise made by APP and its affiliations three years ago in fact implemented only partially, with most commitments were not enforced at all. Self-evident problems as such annual forest fire, natural forest clearing and social conflicts are still happening and cause harms to local community as well as the forest itself.
The report also saw as many as 7.377 hectare of natural forest was clear-cut from APP’s and its subsidiaries concession during 2013 to 2015. The number indicates relentless destruction of forest and peat land in Indonesia. In addition, now that the company is building its large-scaled mill in Ogan Komering Ilir District in South Sumatera has added concerns among Indonesian forest watchdogs. The mill considered will reduce the natural forest and peat land and is parallel to Jikalahari’s report which mentions the APP current concession includes 725.000 hectare of peat land area.
“It’s not impossible to say that the APP’s zero commitment is contradictory to President Joko Widodo’s latest peatland restoration,” Woro said pointing that the APP hasn’t done any significant efforts in handling forest fires happening annually in its concession.
It is also worth-noted that the pulp and paper company had been showing reluctance in submitting their data on peatland concession to Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), stating that it had given its data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry. ICEL executive director Henri Subagiyo lamented the stance. “The APP should have been more cooperative as well as other companies. This program needs all the support it can get, especially from those corporations whose concession located within peatland area,” Henri said.
Henri continued that APP rejection supposed to be a lesson for the government to push more for transparency regarding environmental protection. “The affected community from big-scaled forest activities have the rights to access the entire and accurate information in relation to environment protection and management by businessman. This has to be real commitment, both from private sector and the government.”
Meanwhile, Auriga’s legal researcher Syahrul Fitra said the peatland restoration program could be a momentum for the environment and forestry ministry to evaluate the concession of producing forest, including those obtained by APP group.
“Almost all concessions of APP and its subsidiaries got burnt for three consecutive years, which means that the permit holder is unable to manage its concession,” Syahrul said on Tuesday.
Syahrul added that there has never been a whole evaluation by the government to assess corporation performance in managing their concession. Had the government done this, it would have been easier to place most of APP’s concession to “inappropriate category to operate on” merely from fire spot criteria.
Based on this finding, the coalition reckoned a strong indication that the FCP was only a tool created
to smooth APP business in international market. Additionally, the coalition urges the APP and its chain suppliers to:
First, dismiss all the supply of raw materials coming from natural forest and then announce its plan of long-term raw materials fulfillment that is credible and could be verified to show that APP has adequate source to supply the needs of OKI mill, PT. Indah Kiat, and PT. Lontar Papyrus. The APP must also has suffice back-up to overcome material shortage.
Second, Open and provide an access of information to public use pertaining its forest management, peatland map in its concession, burnt area and prone-to-fire area during period of 2013-2019, as well as the canal built in peatland area of APP concession.
Third, Support the effort of peatland protection by restoring the entire peatland and forest area that used be inflamed and delineated it as protected area.
Fourth, Solve the conflicts with local community and give back the customary and indigenous land.
Fifth, Cut the cooperation with pulp suppliers who are proved of violating the FCP commitment.
*The Coalition Against Forest Mafia is a joint network of several Indonesian civil society organization namely Jikalahari, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), AURIGA, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW).