Minister finds lack of seriousness from APP in peat governance

(foresthints.news) - Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister has expressed disappointment in the lack of seriousness displayed by pulp and paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) in its implementation of new peat regulations through several official letters (Jul 26 and 28) sent to four APP-owned and controlled companies.

In the letters, Minister Siti Nurbaya emphasized that this lack of seriousness on the part of the APP companies, specifically in terms of the inadequate content of their proposed 10-year work plan documents submitted to the ministry, could prove fatal.

“APP clearly lacks seriousness in implementing the new peat regulations. It turns out that the proposed 10-year work plans of the APP companies in Riau and South Sumatra provinces contain copy-paste documents,” lamented Bambang Hendroyono, the Ministry’s Secretary General, to foresthints.news (Jul 28) at his office.

The secretary general signed the letters to the APP companies on behalf of the minister which were also sent to APP's owners, Franky Widjaja and Linda Widjaja.

“APP's owners need to know about the lack of seriousness of the APP teams that have submitted these proposed work plans which, in fact, are merely copy-paste documents. On the contrary, the implementation of the new peat regulations must be taken seriously as it is related to improving peat governance,” explained Bambang.

The minister, he continued, has given the APP companies involved a deadline of between 10-11 August to submit revised versions of their 10-year work plans.

Bambang went on to describe the thoroughness of the minister’s letters. “In terms of substance, the minister also provided details of certain items in the letters to the APP companies to facilitate them in revising the current copy-paste work plans.”

In APP's various responses to foresthints.news, the pulp and paper giant has always asserted that it consistently and strictly complies with Indonesian laws and regulations, including in its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) which was announced in early February 2013.

APP controls pulpwood concessions scattered across Sumatra and Kalimantan spanning at least 2.64 million hectares, or more than 37 times the size of Singapore. These concessions serve as its supply chains in Indonesia.

After the huge peat fires of 2015 that significantly affected its South Sumatra concessions, APP continued to claim that implementation of its FCP was still on track.

Making matters worse, legal reports submitted by three APP companies to the ministry revealed that during 2015-2016 new canal development covering the same distance as Bonn to Brussels was being undertaken in peatlands in the APP concessions.

Information received from the ministry (Jul 28) states that the administrative sanctions imposed by the ministry on two APP companies - located in Riau and South Sumatra provinces respectively - as they were proven to have committed peat violations from 2016 until early 2017 have yet to be lifted.

The reason for this is that the two APP companies have not fulfilled the compliance requirements relating to all the violations on the ground level.

Examples of APP’s lack of seriousness

The secretary general provided a strange example from one of the submitted documents in which an APP company in South Sumatra wrote in its proposed 10-year work plan that the company will be involved in managing the Kampar Peninsula landscape.

“This clearly demonstrates that the proposed work plan is just copied and pasted from proposed work plans of other APP companies operating in Riau province, since there is no Kampar Peninsula Landscape in South Sumatra. This really illustrates that APP is not taking this matter seriously,” he bemoaned.

Bambang highlighted another example in which three APP companies operating in South Sumatra submitted proposed work plans containing exactly the same text, tables and content, all of which were copy-paste documents.

“Each company has a single legal identity. (As such) APP's actions in submitting these copy-paste documents are also not permitted from a legal perspective,” the secretary general warned.

Not only four companies

A review by the ministry of the proposed work plans submitted to it indicates that APP’s lack of seriousness extends further than just the four APP companies in question.

“Letters to other APP companies will follow because there are many other findings that expose these companies' lack of seriousness in preparing the content and substance of their proposed work plans,” Bambang explained.

Another bizarre example singled out by the secretary general was that of an APP company whose proposed work plan includes attached maps which are actually maps of a different APP company.

“These examples reveal an utter lack of seriousness and this obviously cannot be allowed to happen again. APP's owners need to pay close attention to our concerns as this relates to the ministry's sincere efforts to improve peat governance,” the secretary general reaffirmed.