PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Eyes on the Forest coalition today published an Investigative Report on PT Lestari Unggul Makmur (LUM), a pulpwood plantation company associated to Asian Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL).
The investigation found that PT LUM would clear natural forest in island of Tebing Tinggi, Kepulauan Meranti district, Riau as the company has drained canals in the peat swamp ecosystem. Pulpwood expansion by PT LUM, APRIL’s associated company, has incited wide protests by communities in Tebing Tinggi sub-district as they would lose their island as well as livelihood from sago palm plantation.
Investigators team of Eyes on the Forest (EoF) have found PT LUM digging canals over 10 kilometers length, 12 meter width and 5 meter depth.
During the investigation within September – October 2009, the team did not find any forest clearing in the concession as the residents informed that up to now PT LUM had not obtained operational license, eventhough they gained forest clearing or Annual Work Plan (RKT) by the Ministry of Forestry.
Pulpwood plantation permit of PT LUM was issued on 31 May 2007 based on Minister of Forestry Decree number 217/Menhut-II/2007 with total size of 10,390 hectares in Bengkalis District (currently part of expanded Kepulauan Meranti District), Riau Province. In 2009, PT LUM in Riau Province obtained natural forest clearing permit or officially called Annual Work Plan (RKT) based upon Decree of Forest Plantation Management Director number 13/BPHT-3/2009 dated 13 April 2009, in size of 2,832 hectares and clearing target of 262,837 cubic meter of natural forest’s wood.
APRIL’s associated company PT LUM had already dig peat canals and had not started natural forest clearing, however, the company’s activity had incited fierce social conflict, where community of all villages in Tebing Tinggi subdistrict rejected the pulpwood plantation development by PT LUM.
Community worryingly consider negative social and ecological impact caused by the company’s activity such as community’s sago palm plantation extinction, the loss and sinking of strategically outer island Pulau Tebing Tinggi as well as ecological catasthrope for the lost of village’s buffer forest as well as peat subsidence.
EoF had sent the report to APRIL’s management for asking confirmation and comments, but there is no response sent back to the coalition.
EoF calls on the Government to review license for APRIL’s PT LUM pulpwood development and urges the company to stop its operation and rehabilitate drained peat canals they damaged. It’s not late to verify this license to help prevent further social conflict involving community and the company as well as take consideration into ecological damage and increasing carbon emission due to peat swamp forest destruction.