Peat drainage canal and stacks of MTH harvested from forest clearance by APRIL wood supplier PT. RAPP in Kampar peninsula. Some CITES-protected ramin trees were “saved” and left standing. Photo taken by Eyes on the Forest at N°17’52.36” E102°43’22.29” on 10 February 2012.
Pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) continues to destroy large areas of rainforests and peatlands despite a commitment to end natural forest logging by 2009, says a new report issued by a coalition of Indonesian environmental groups.
The Eyes on the Forest report [PDF] finds that APRIL and its suppliers cleared at least 140,000 hectares (346,000 acres) of natural forest between 2008 and 2011 in Riau, accounting for 27 percent of all forest loss in the province during the period. Some of the area cleared by APRIL and its subsidiaries consisted of deep peat swamp forest, which stores massive amount of carbon. The report, which is titled “APRIL: Riau, Sumatra’s biggest forest pulper 2009 to 2012”, says that 69 percent of APRIL’s concessions lie on peat soils, suggesting that emissions from the company’s operations could worsen as it clears remaining forest areas.
Natural forest clearance by APRIL wood supplier PT. Triomas FDI in Kampar Peninsula. Photo taken by Eyes on the Forest on 30 May 2012.
MTH or mixed tropical hardwood is sourced from natural forests in Indonesia. In 2009 and 2010 MTH “represented 84% and 50% of the raw material needs of APRIL’s Riau mill”, according to the report.
“APRIL’s public commitment to sustainable and natural fiber free operations after 2009 was pure sales talk; greenwashing to win back customers who had left the company due to its dismal sustainability record,” said the report. “Any statements on environmental sustainability made by APRIL today must be viewed with the highest possible skepticism and should not be taken at face value.”
The report goes on to state that APRIL “APRIL knowingly pulped natural forest wood from concessions whose licenses were issued through corrupt practices.”
“Ten of twelve APRIL wood suppliers operating in the company’s main wood supply area, Riau Province’s deep peat Kampar Peninsula, obtained their licenses from the heads of Siak and Pelalawan district. Both were convicted in high profile cases for corrupt practices in issuing these licenses and are currently in prison,” it says. “APRIL suppliers also received annual cutting licenses from three Riau Forestry Agency chiefs who since then have been sentenced to prison terms for graft by the corruption court.”