APRIL stopped Government investigation of legally questionable new peat drainage in Sumatra
Pekanbaru, Sumatra – Voices are mounting against one of Indonesia’s paper giants’ repeated disregard of Government policy to protect peatlands. APRIL denied access to the Head of Indonesia’s Peat Restoration Agency who was undertaking an unannounced investigation of the company’s continuing peat development activities on Pulau Padang in Riau province, Sumatra, accompanied by Forest Rangers, Ministry of Environment Forestry officials and local villagers.
“Denying government inspection is yet another example of APRIL’s disregard for Government policy and disrespect for the President’s mandate for the Peat Restoration Agency,” says Woro Supartinah, coordinator of Jikalahari. “APRIL must immediately halt all further development of peatland on the island and restore the peat to support the Agency and the local communities for their sustainable livelihood.”
Eyes on the Forest coalition calls on APRIL’s PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) to immediately stop alleged land grabbing in Bagan Melibur village, in an enclave area inside its concession, and follow Forestry’s Ministerial Decree Number 180/2013. “The decree is proof of the severe, long-standing conflict between PT RAPP and Pulau Padang communities that needs immediate resolution,” said Riko Kurniawan/WWF, Executive Director of Walhi Riau.
The coalition rejects APRIL’s interpretation of government regulations and its own commitments as a misleading attempt to justify the company’s continued peat clearance and drainage. “Historical Landsat images show that the company continues to drain the island’s peatlands against the Ministry of Forestry’s instruction to no longer conduct land clearing on peatlands for forestry and plantation business, even in already licensed areas,” Woro adds. “We ask the Indonesian Government to take firm measures to ensure compliance with its policies,” said Riko.
“it is odd that APRIL with its huge existing land bank is insisting on developing this small parcel of land, especially with all the protests from the local communities,” said Nursamsu, Deforestation Advocacy Leader, WWF-Indonesia. “The local community of Bagan Melibur village protested many times against the company’s operation in their administrative area in fear of future environmental catastrophes on this small peat island.”
Already in November 2014, Eyes on the Forest had reported to APRIL’s much touted Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) that the company had been clearing natural forest on peat in the area against its own Sustainable Forest Management Policy.
“I am very disappointed that the company does not cooperate with government and continues to drain peatland against clear policies and a moratorium of such developments,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader, WWF-Indonesia. “APRIL must improve its performance and follow government policies. APRIL has to stop talking about conservation and sustainability and actually start practicing it. The company has to reduce its carbon footprint and phase out its unsustainable drainage of peatlands. The company’s SAC has to avoid just becoming another corporate green-washing tool.”
Notes to Editor:
l Eyes on the Forest coalition are: Jikalahari (NGOs Network for Riau Forest Rescue), WALHI Riau chapter (Friends of Earth Indonesia), and WWF-Indonesia.
l The Peat Restoration Agency released a video on Tuesday of the inspection at: https://www.facebook.com/221307594893786/videos/305635469794331/
l For background information on the company’s destruction of forest and peatlands on the island and the conflict with local communities, read: http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id/attach/EoF (20Nov14) APRIL RGE continues deforestation - grievance submitted to APRIL SAC EN final.pdf
l On the Ministry of Forestry instruction, read: http://eyesontheforest.or.id/index.php?page=news&acti>
For further information please contact:
Nur Maliki Arifiandi, WWF-Indonesia / firstname.lastname@example.org / +62 815 1660736