Villagers protest APP's company logging operation

EoF News / 15 May 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)-- At least 500 villagers representing some traditional villages of Rimbamelintang sub-district in Rokan Hilir district, filed a petition rejecting logging expansion that conducted by PT Ruas Utama Jaya, associated to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

The residents protested accusing of the logging operation by PT Ruas Utama Jaya, subsidiary of PT Arara Abadi,  is allegedly illegal. Beside, the operation could undermine their villages environment as the companies build canals there to transport the felled timber, Riau Pos daily reported last weekend.

"Residents have submitted a letter of rejection against expansion and timber encroachment by PT Ruas Utama Jaya and PT Arara Abadi in this sub-district. The residents' rejection is mainly against the action of rampant forest exploitation," said Ramli Harrofie, sub-district head, who received the villagers' petition.

The official said not only encroach the forest, the APP companies also dig long canals reaching out their villages. "This operation is unacceptable due to legal basis of company's operation remains questionable," the sub-district head said.

The company only showed logging operation map that signed by Minister of Forestry M.S Kaban when the local authority and residents repeatedly questioned the legality of the operation. 

"They don't give us any copy of the map. Therefore, we are wary of the validity of the company's operation particularly related to licenses," Ramli added. The residents' petition will be lodged to District Head of Rokan Hilir in a bid to forward the aspiration, he said.

Meanwhile, PT Ruas Utama Jaya's Community Relation Head Azwar By said the company's operation is legal and holding some licenses issued by Rokan Hilir district administration, Riau province government and the Minister of Forestry.

Azwar said that his company logging operation holds license of industrial timber plantation (HTI) issued by the Minister of Forestry number SK.18/Menhut/II/2007 dated 05 January 2007 signed by Minister Kaban.

The size where the logging happens is 144,330 hectares which also include Dumai municipality territory.  In Jumrah village, the size of logging operation allowed for the company is 8,133 ha.

Eyes on the Forest investigation report of  June 2006 analyzed that concession of PT Ruas Utama Jaya, associated to APP, in Senepis forest block, held HTI license which "is not a definitive decree issued by MoF, but it is merely an approval to proposal called principal approval.”

The definitive decree of HTI license will be granted by the Ministry if the company has conducted several activities as stipulated on article 14 of Ministry of Forestry’s Decree Number 312/Kpts-II/1999 on Procedure to Granting Selective Logging Concession through Proposal, the report said.

Find Investigative Report June 2006