After last year’s devastating fires, the Indonesian government is cracking down on companies thought to have played a role in causing them.
Many of the fires occurred on land belonging to pulp and paper giant APRIL.
The recent suspension of PT Rimba Lazuardi follows a similar action against PT Sumatra Riang Lestari, another APRIL supplier.
Another supplier of Indonesia’s second-largest pulp and paper company has had its operations suspended by the government for its role in last year’s devastating wildfires.
PT Rimba Lazuardi (RL), a supplier of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), was also cited for shirking its waste-management obligations, foresthints.news reports.
RL is one of 18 companies the police in Sumatra’s Riau province, across the Malacca Strait from Singapore and Malaysia, announced they were investigating last October, the nadir of Indonesia’s worst fire and haze crisis in recent memory. The fires burn annually in Indonesia’s carbon-rich but desiccated peat swamp regions, where large swaths of marshy land are drained to ready for planting by oil palm and pulpwood interests. The dried peat is like a tinderbox, easily ignited by companies and farmers who slash-and-burn the land to clear it cheaply, though the method is generally illegal.
Another APRIL supplier in Riau, PT Sumatra Riang Lestari (SRL), had its license suspended last November, but in March the NGO Greenomics observed via satellite that the company appeared to be continuing to harvest acacia in its concession. An APRIL spokesperson said on April 1 that it had asked SRL to report back to it on the allegations, which the forestry ministry has said could result in a revocation of the supplier’s permit.
“We need to check in the field first,” said Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry’s law enforcement chief.
NGOs like Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) have called on the government to take legal action against SRL. “The violations committed by this major supplier to APRIL demonstrate an absence of good faith, and that it feels no responsibility to comply with Indonesia’s laws and regulations,” Jikalahari coordinator Woro Supartinah told foresthints.news.
APRIL has asked RL to obey the ministry’s orders. “APRIL does its utmost to ensure that all our suppliers adhere to our sustainability policy,” said Agung Laksamana, APRIL’s corporate affairs director. “We remain subject to and committed to obeying all of Indonesia’s prevailing laws and regulations, and we hope that all our suppliers do the same.”
APRIL is an arm of the Royal Golden Eagle conglomerate, controlled by Indonesia’s super-rich Tanoto family. Its main competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper, an arm of the Sinar Mas conglomerate, also saw a much of its land go up in flames last year.