Peat fires raging as Indonesian Government turns back the clock on restoration

EoF Investigative Report / 30 August 2019

To create at least some form of transparency on the issue and evaluate the restoration performance by both HTI concession holders and government in the country’s top peat province of Riau during the 3 years the President had asked for, EoF surveyed HTI concessions with drones and on the ground between July and December 2018.

The HTI concessions surveyed covered 12% (149,142 ha) of the peatlands mapped as Protection Function Peat Ecosystems (FLEG) by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) inside concessions affiliated with Asia Pulp & Paper/Sinar Mas Group (APP/SMG) and APRIL/Royal Golden Eagle group (APRIL/RGE). The concessions surveyed also covered 6% (167,810 ha) of all FLEG areas in Riau Province, which has the largest area of FLEG in the country. The objective of the monitoring was to evaluate the pulp & paper giants, APP/SMG and APRIL/RGE, and the MoEF’s own compliance with and progress in implementing Indonesian government regulations on peat protection and restoration.

EoF found :

  • Poor efforts made by APP/SMG and APRIL/RGE affiliates to restore peatlands zoned for protection by MoEF and/or BRG in some of the concessions investigated.
  • Alleged violation of Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation P16/2017 by all four APP/SMG and APRIL/RGE affiliated companies in all except one HTI concessions investigated by way of replanting acacia after harvesting the old plantation instead of restoring the peatlands with native species as required.
  • Alleged violation of Government Regulation number 45 Year 2004 Article 8 Point 2 on Forest Protection by an APRIL/RGE affiliate (PT Sumatera Riang Lestari) for not protecting the HTI concession area from planting of oil palm plantations by outsiders (the local community, investors, land speculators).
  • Apparent lack of government supervision of these companies for non-compliance with government regulations.
  • Lack of restoration efforts by the MoEF in one concession for which the Ministry had revoked a license in 2016.