PEKANBARU (EoF News)— Coalition of Eyes on the Forest today published Investigative Report on two Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)/ Sinar Mas Group (SMG) wood suppliers who conducted natural forest clearance in Kerumutan peat forest.
The Investigative Report found that natural forest clearance operations by both APP-affiliated companies are legally questionable based upon existing laws and regulations as they cleared natural forest with dense canopy cover which is not allowed to be converted into plantations, and both companies cleared natural forest on peat with a depth of more than 3 meters deep, which is not allowed to be converted into plantations.
PT Bina Duta Laksana and PT Mutiara Sabuk Khatulistiwa also have majority of the concessions overlaps with national Protected Area and some of the concessions overlaps with provincial Protected Areas (RTRWP).
PT BDL is one of 14 companies that were investigated by the police in 2007-2008 for alleged involvement in widespread illegal logging by the pulp & paper industry in Riau.
The natural forest clearance and plantation development in these concessions do not provide any benefit for the local communities, moreover they create social-economic conflicts. Villagers suffer economic losses due to broken promises and ignorance by the companies.
These forest clearance operations also significantly contribute to global climate change and to the local extinction of Sumatran tigers, as human-tiger conflict in Kerumutan block rose in 2009 and 2010. Kerumutan forest block is considered to maintain various High Conservation Values, one of them being a critically endangered species, Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae).
EoF analysisof Landsat images found that by 2005, the majority of both concessions were still covered by quite dense canopy natural forest. However, by 2008, at least 9,678 ha and 6,560 ha of natural forest was lost in PT BDL and PT MSK, respectively.
EoF found that that both companies, located next to each other, did not halt natural forest clearance during the de-facto logging moratorium that was in force between February 2007 and December 2008. This moratorium was due to a province-wide illegal logging investigationconducted by Riau Police with support by the National Police.
In November 2007, the inter-departmental team set up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recommended that the 14 companies –including PT BDL-- should be processed thoroughly by the Law. However, in December 2008, 13 out of 14 companies cases,including PT BDL, were abruptly closed by the police as the dossier for them was rejected many times by the local Prosecutors Office. One company left to probe is PT RUJ (APP/SMG) which then also acquitted secretly by the police in June 2009.
On 22 April, a coalition of activist groups including Jikalahari, Walhi Riau and Indonesian Corruption Watch reported 12 public officials and 14 companies associated to APP and APRIL to the presidential Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force for suspected involvement in the Riau illegal logging cases.
The EoFcoalition calls on PT BDL, PT MKS and APP/SMG to immediately stop all further clearance of natural forest in their concessions due to the questionable legality of their activities, social conflicts, threat to critically endangered Sumatran tigers and other High Conservation Values, and its potential negative impacts on the climate.