Minister reaffirms APRIL not aligned with peat governance

(foresthints.news) - Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has written to PT RAPP (Jul 26), a subsidiary of pulp and paper giant APRIL, to confirm that its proposed 10-year work plan is still not aligned with new peat regulations.

The minister's letter comes on the back of a review concluding that the pulp giant company's proposed work plan still does not encompass a legally-based peat protection framework.

“The minister's letter (to the APRIL company) describes in detail the substance that needs to be thoroughly improved by the APRIL company,” the Ministry's Secretary General, Bambang Hendroyono, told foresthints.news (Jul 26) at the ministry building.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Jul 13), the ministry has affirmed that the Indonesian pulp and paper industry will not endure a fiber supply shortage in the next five years and thus should have no objections to the implementation of peat governance.

The APRIL pulpwood concession, which spans an area about five times the size of Singapore, is spread across six regencies in Sumatra's Riau province.

This does not include APRIL's long-term suppliers which serve as its joint venture companies, with a total area of almost nine times the size of Singapore.

Now or never

The letter (Jul 26), which was signed by the secretary general on behalf of the minister, was sent directly to the owner of the APRIL company, Anderson Tanoto.

“There will be no compromises for pulp and paper giants such as APRIL when it comes to compliance with the implementation of peat governance. It's now or never. That's the message from our minister,” Bambang cautioned.

Bearing this in mind, he added, the ministry has taken strict measures to prevent pulp and paper giants from buying time, leading them to not comply with peat governance implementation.

“We have anticipated that pulpwood companies will try to buy time and we are determined that there should be no room for this. As such, we have given them a tight schedule,” the secretary general asserted.

As an example, Bambang cited the deadline of August 10 given by the minister to the APRIL company for the resubmission of its proposed 10-year work plan, incorporating the substance previously referred to in the minister’s letter.

In the letter, the minister again reminded the subsidiary of the Singapore-based multinational of the peat violations it has committed by undertaking new peat development, as shown in the following photographs.

No more new peat development

In her letter, the minister also reminded the APRIL company that the peat fires which ravaged its concession in 2015-2016 remain under inspection by the ministry.

“In light of this, the minister's letter also requires the APRIL company to include an annual peat recovery plan involving its concession for the period 2017-2026,” the secretary general explained.

In early October last year, the APRIL company's work plan was annulled by the minister because it allowed for continuing new peat development. Meanwhile, an on-the-ground inspection conducted by the ministry also proved that the company had been committing new peat violations in Riau's Kampar Peninsula landscape.

Bambang was keen to emphasize to foresthints.news the Environment and Forestry Minister's determination. “Our minister will continue with evaluations, monitoring and law enforcement to ensure that the implementation of peat governance stays on track.”

It turns out, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Apr 29), that APRIL’s new sustainability policy still offers opportunities for its supply chains to continue new peat development.

However, such opportunities clearly contravene the newly-revised government regulation signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year.