Pulp & paper

Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry has been controlled by two clans from its early years: the Wijayas’ Sinar Mas Group and its Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and the Tanotos’ Royal Golden Eagle and its APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL, originally named Indorayon Inti Utama).

Both laid siege to the land when they bought (APP) and built (APRIL and TPL) their first mills. The island’s endless forests were cheap seemingly never ending fodder for the pulp mill monsters the two companies created (for more information, read "Chapter 15. Sumatra, Indonesia: Pulping the Jungle" of Pearce 2013).

Deforestation history of concessions supplying wood to APP (red boundary) or APRIL (pink boundary) in their main production center Riau until 2012, one year before APP released its Forest Conservation Policy. Both companies had pretty much cleared all the forest they could clear by that time. For more details, go to EoF interactive map for 1. Pulp & paper investigation findings.

After a few decades of deforestation, APP and APRIL committed to no longer clear natural forest and restore ecosystems in size equal to their plantations in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Yet, implementation has been slow and has not stopped deforestation in the concessions. Companies also have not dealt with their huge carbon footprints (peat drainage and associated fires) and other legacies of long-term large scale deforestation including social issues and loss of habitat for critically endangered species.

APP’s new OKI mill is being constructed © Hutan Kita Institute

NGOs are also very concerned about increasing evidence APP cannot assure a sustainable wood supply once its new pulp mill in South Sumatra province goes on-line. When will APP restart pulping natural forest to repay the huge debt for its new mill?