Recent large-scale clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.
Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRRIL) is violating its own sustainability policy by continuing to source fiber produced via the destruction peatlands on the island of Pulau Padang in Riau, Sumatra, argues a new report published by a coalition of Indonesian environmental groups.
Investigative work conducted by Eyes on the Forest (EoF) shows that APRIL affiliate Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) is operating in breach of APRIL’s pledge not to clear potential high conservation value (HCV) areas.
“EoF concludes that almost all of the natural forest clearance by PT. RAPP in Pulau Padang is in
violation of one or more of the following government regulations, thus in violation of the Sustainable Forest Management Policy commitment ‘IV.a. APRIL reaffirms its commitment to comply with all prevailing laws and regulations, and requires all its fibre suppliers to do so,'” states the report.
“When PT. RAPP started to operate this concession in 2011, the concession was almost fully covered by natural forests and most of the natural forests were protected,” the report continued. “In June and October 2014, EoF visited the southern part of the concession and observed the company clearing forest, stacking newly cut natural forest logs and constructing canals to drain the peat for plantation development and to transport the natural forest logs to APRIL’s pulp mill in Pangkalan Kerinci.”
Active clearance of peatland forest. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.
The report’s allegations aren’t the first time that concerns have been raised about activities on Pulau Padang. In June Greenpeace-Indonesia released dramatic aerial photos showing excavators tearing down trees in deep peat areas within the concession. At the time, APRIL said the activity didn’t violate its sustainable forest management policy.
“The Pulau Padang high conservation value forest [HCVF] assessment has been completed,” APRIL told Mongabay.com.”APRIL is operating at Pulau Padang in line with its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, which means operations commenced only after the HCVF assessment was completed. We are operating only on non-HCVF areas.”
APRIL is under increasing pressure to clean up its operations after its largest competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) signed a comprehensive zero deforestation policy last year. APP has since made an additional commitment to support conservation and restoration of forests and habitat equivalent to the total area of its plantations. APRIL has since said it will match APP on that latter commitment, as it applies to its own concessions.
Pulp and paper production has been one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in Sumatra over the past twenty years. The industry consumed more than 2 million hectares of peatlands and rainforests during that period.