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Greenpeace re-engages with APP after response to activist’s killing

Acacia plantation in Riau
Acacia plantation in Riau. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Greenpeace is re-engaging with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) after the Indonesian forestry giant quickly responded to the killing of a community activist on one of its suppler plantations.

In a letter published today, Greenpeace said it would resume its involvement in helping APP implement its forest conservation policy, which bars conversion of rainforests and peatlands and commits it to conflict resolution with local communities.

Greenpeace suspended its partnership with APP after Indra Pelani, a 22 year-old from Lubuk Mandarsah village in Jambi, was beaten to death by security contractors working at a guard post in a concession held by Wira Karya Sakti (WKS), a plantation company owned by APP. Indra was killed after an altercation with the contractors, which were employed by a security firm hired by WKS.

“We have come to this decision because we have seen that APP and WKS have responded quickly and decisively to Indra Pelani’s death,” writes Bustar Maitar, Global Head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia Forest Campaign. “This includes taking responsibility for making amends for the actions of the security firm in addition to canceling the firm’s contract. In addition, WKS has halted forestry operations in District 8 of the concession where Indra Pelani’s assault took place, to allow constructive dialogue with the local community to take place.”

Since the incident, APP has compensated Pelani’s family and community, stepped up engagement with the community to resolve a long-standing conflict, and cooperated with the police investigation. Its sister company, Sinar Mas Forestry, has also set up a new social conflict resolution team.

Indra Pelani, 22, was killed on February 22, 2015 by security guards working at a post in a concession owned by WKS. Photo: Walhi

Still Greenpeace said that more work had to be done to resolve conflict and ensure that APP is progressing on its commitment.

“Greenpeace urges WKS and APP to resolve the land conflict with the community of Lubuk Mandarsah as soon as possible. We believe APP has to do much more to reduce the possibility of such conflicts and violence occurring at APP’s operations elsewhere in Indonesia,” writes Bustar. “We urge APP to commission a full security review as a priority. It also needs to address the broader issues behind such conflicts, including land disputes, third – party clearance and illegal logging, as well as achieving forest conservation with support from local communities.”

In response, APP welcomed Greenpeace’s re-engagement and said it is considering “a review of all security arrangements” across its concessions.

“Greenpeace has been a vital partner and valued critical friend in the design and delivery of the Forest Conservation Policy since we announced it in 2013. We were all deeply affected by the WKS Jambi incident, and intend to learn everything possible from the event so such a tragedy is not repeated,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement at APP, in a statement.

“We are pleased that we can now renew our efforts in collaborating on a range of ambitious and innovative actions that will be taken as part of our FCP Implementation Plan: 2015 & Beyond. I am grateful to Greenpeace for their support and encouragement and look forward to working together in the months and years ahead.”

APP and Greenpeace listed several priorities for engagement, including protection of high carbon stock areas, peatlands management, addressing deforestation by third parties, and implementing APP’s commitment to support forest conservation and restoration at a landscape level.

APP’s forest conservation policy represented a major shift for Indonesia’s forestry sector when it was signed in 2013. Until then, APP had been a top target by environmentalists over its forest management practices, which had destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests and peatlands across Sumatra.

Today green groups have turned their focus to APP’s biggest competitor, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), which continues to clear natural forests for woodpulp and paper production. APRIL is expected to announce its own conservation policy next month.

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