APRIL’s work plan approved after alignment with new peat regulations 

(foresthints.news) - On the day of its court defeat, ten days before the end of 2017, Singapore-based pulp and paper giant APRIL made a second public promise to comply with Indonesia’s new peat regulations by completing the new 2017-2026 work plan of its subsidiary (PT RAPP) under the full direction of the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment.

Subsequently, the APRIL company had its proposed new work plan approved by the ministry in the second week of January this year (Jan 9), thereby eventually fulfilling this second promise.

“After going through a very strict process, especially after the Jakarta State Court decision, the new work plan of PT RAPP was finally approved this week. Its substance is now aligned with the new peat regulations.”

This was confirmed by the Ministry's Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono to foresthints.news (Jan 12) before the commencement of an inter-ministerial event at the ministry building which was opened by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya. 

“What happened during the process up to the approval of PT RAPP's new work plan needs to be seen as an important lesson learned for the public at large, particularly in the sense that it is not easy to push improved peat governance,” said Bambang.

Specific monitoring

The ministry's secretary general affirmed that the approval of the APRIL company's new work plan means that a peat recovery plan is incorporated into it, given that the work plan serves as a legal basis for all the company's operations.

As an example, Bambang cited the protection zones scattered among one of the company's estates in Sumatra's Riau Kampar Peninsula landscape, as shown in the photos below, which henceforth are to be managed according to the newly-approved work plan.

In addition, the replanting of acacia after harvesting is no longer allowed in areas designated as peat protection zones spread across the APRIL company's concessions. In fact, more than 33% of the nearly 340,000 hectares of the APRIL company's concessions lies in peat protection zones, according to the APRIL work plan.

Furthermore, as part of its new work plan, the APRIL company is also banned from carrying out new acacia plantation development in peatlands that have yet to be developed - like it did during 2016 as depicted in the following photos - even if, for example, these undeveloped peatlands lie in utilization zones in its concessions.

Bambang emphasized that PT RAPP’s new work plan requires the APRIL company to seek to resolve land conflicts in its concessions, including in mineral lands, as well as establish forestry partnerships with local communities.

He also stressed that the implementation of the APRIL company's new work plan will be specifically monitored on a continuous basis by the ministry as part of efforts to evaluate the level of the company's performance, as well as to identify sources of corrective action to be used by the government in the future.

“This specific monitoring actually also applies to all companies, not only to PT RAPP's concessions,” Bambang explained, adding that the approval of the APRIL company's new work plan should serve as a precedent to be acted on immediately by all pulpwood companies under the APRIL group.

As a note of caution for companies under the APRIL group, according to the ministry's law enforcement data, PT SRL, the largest acacia supplier to APRIL, was hit with a strict administrative sanction last month (Dec 22) due to peat violations it committed.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya - with the full backing of President Joko Widodo - continues to ensure that improvements to the peat governance process in the corporate sector are consistently being made, most notably for pulpwood and palm oil companies, even though this is a tough task due to decades of institutional neglect.