A deforestation spot inside Mayawana Persada's pulpwood consession in West Kalimantan. [-0.924587 , 109.941413]  Auriga Nusantara July 2023.

Massive deforestation in Borneo destroying Orangutan habitat

Jakarta, March 18, 2024 – Today, a coalition of leading environmental organizations have released the report Deforestation Anonymous that sheds light on the alarming resurgence of deforestation in Indonesia, driven by PT Mayawana Persada in Indonesian Borneo. The evidence presented in the report documents the largest current case of deforestation among all pulpwood and oil palm plantation companies in Indonesia. In the last three years, PT Mayawana Persada, which operates a forestry concession in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, has cleared more than 33,000 hectares of rainforest, an area nearly half the size of Singapore.

The report reveals that Mayawana is part of a larger trend where companies are using complex corporate structures involving offshore secrecy jurisdictions to continue clearing tropical forests. This deforestation has destroyed habitat for Bornean orangutans and other endangered species, and has catalyzed a conflict between the company and a local Dayak community.

“Over 55,000 hectares of rainforest remains in the Mayawana concession, making it a critical test case for efforts to control deforestation in Indonesia,” said Hilman Afif of Auriga Nusantara, one of the environmental groups that co-published the investigation. Yet the company’s opaque ownership structure makes it difficult to know who should be held accountable for the company’s destructive activities.

Auriga Nusantara

Deforestation inside Mayawana Persada's pulpwood consesstion. @Nusantara Atlas/TheTreeMap

Mayawana is owned by a chain of holding companies that leads to the secrecy jurisdictions of the British Virgin Islands and Samoa, neither of which require the names of shareholders to be disclosed to the public. “This complex corporate structure, in effect, hides the ultimate beneficial owner(s) of the company and can shield them from the legal and reputational risks of destroying such vast tracts of tropical forest,” said Arie Rompas of Greenpeace Indonesia.

In the case of Mayawana, corporate documents, operational management connections, and supply chain links indicate the company is related to the Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE). RGE is a global producer of pulp, paper, packaging, tissue, viscose and palm oil, and is the parent conglomerate of APRIL, Asia Symbol, Sateri, Apical and Asian Agri. In 2015, RGE – and several of its subsidiaries including APRIL – initiated a policy of “zero deforestation” in its supply chain. Among the buyers of RGE’s products are some of the world’s largest fashion brands, consumer goods manufacturers, and mass retailers, many of which make sustainability claims to customers about not causing rainforest destruction or harming communities. These sustainability claims are now called into question over Mayawana’s continuing deforestation in Borneo.

The organizations publishing this report call on PT Mayawana Persada to immediately halt the deforestation and conversion of peatlands within its concession, to resolve its conflicts with local communities, and to disclose the names of its beneficial owner(s).

Mayawana’s deforestation makes untenable the Forest Stewardship Council’s years-long effort to re-engage with APRIL, the RGE Group’s holding company for its Indonesia pulp and paper operations, after it was disassociated from the organization a decade ago for destructive .forestry practices. The organizations publishing this report call on the FSC to suspend the “remedy” process for APRIL to gain re-entry into the sustainability certification scheme, at the very least until Mayawana’s deforestation stops and the company resolves its conflicts with communities in an equitable and accountable manner.

Through a statement issued by APRIL, the RGE Group denies any association with PT Mayawana Persada. Its full response is included in the report.

The organizations publishing the report Deforestation Anonymous: Rainforest destruction and social conflict driven by PT Mayawana Persada in Indonesian Borneo are Auriga Nusantara, Environmental Paper Network, Greenpeace International, Woods & Wayside International, and Rainforest Action Network.

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Editor Notes:

  • PT Mayawana Persada cleared 11,805 ha of rainforest in 2022 and 16,118 hectares in 2023 within its pulpwood concession in West Kalimantan province. In total, over the last three years (2021–2023), natural forest cover in the Mayawana concession has decreased by 33,070 ha, an area equivalent to 45% the size of Singapore. At the end of 2023, 55,625 ha of rainforest remained standing within the concession.

  • Since 2020, more than half of the natural forest destroyed in Mayawana’s concession has been on carbon-rich peatlands, and in 2023 the percentage of deforestation on peatland areas rose to over 80%. Development of peatlands for industrial pulpwood plantations releases massive amounts of CO2 and methane. As such, this form of land-use change is a major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and makes these landscapes vulnerable to catastrophic fires.