No peat restoration efforts across APPís supply chain, concludes ministryís monitoring

(foresthints.news) - Based on the results of ground checks it has conducted at a number of†Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)†pulpwood concessions, Indonesiaís Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has concluded that no peat restoration efforts across APPís supply chain this year.†

Instead, APP has been carrying out replanting practices in last yearís burned peatlands, an activity prohibited by a ministerial regulation since mid-December 2015.

Furthermore, APP has not only been replanting acacia in last yearís burned peatlands in†its operations in South Sumatra†province, according to the ministry, but also performing this prohibited activity in peatlands located in its pulpwood concessions spread across Sumatraís Riau province which were burned last year.†

ďAPP must accept the legal consequences of replanting acacia in burned peatlands, considering that this has been outlawed since mid-December last year. These include removing the acacia that has already been planted in the burned peatlands,Ē explained San Afri Awang, Chairman of Peat Restoration Monitoring at the ministry, on Monday (Dec 5) at the ministry complex.†

The ministryís monitoring in one of APPís pulpwood concessions in Riau, situated in the Giam Siak Landscape, demonstrated that APP has indeed replanted acacia in last yearís burned peatlands.†

ďAPP should be avoiding the practice of replanting acacia in last yearís burned peatlands. They should be respecting the governmentís prohibition,Ē admonished Professor San Afri, who also serves as one of the director generals at the ministry.†

In early February 2013, APP launched its†Forest Conservation Policy, which included a stated commitment to comply with Indonesiaís laws and regulations.

ďIf they comply with their own commitments (APPís forest conservation policy), of course they also have to comply with Indonesiaís laws and regulations by not replanting acacia in last yearís burned peatlands. The NGOs which have had engagement with APP should have warned them about this,Ē the Director General asserted.

These photos illustrate how APP has failed to comply with Indonesiaís laws and regulations, including a failure to comply with its own forest conservation policy seeing that it has clearly replanted acacia in peatlands in its pulpwood concession, PT SPM, located in the†Giam Siak Landscape, which were burned last year.

The DG suggested that NGOs which have been supporters of APP's Forest Conservation Policy should go to the field to see for themselves how APP is replanting acacia in last year's burned peatlands, something forbidden by the government.†

ďAPP's Giam Siak Landscape has unclear conservation targets, which have been set merely to smooth over APP's business-as-usual practices," said San Afri.

Slow action

ďLast yearís burned peatlands that have now been replanted by APP in its pulpwood concession in Giam Siak form part of the targeted peat restoration areas, as based on the†indicative map issued by the Peat Restoration Agency. The peat agency, meanwhile, has appeared very slow in anticipating cases like this,Ē lamented Professor San Afri.

He reiterated that the formation of the peat agency by President Joko Widodo in early January this year was aimed at accelerating the restoration of peatlands, given that extraordinary efforts were deemed necessary to achieve peat restoration goals, as was clearly and explicitly laid out in the presidential regulation that established the peat agency.

ďIf the government simply employs business-as-usual practices in attempting to accomplish its peat restoration objectives, itís the same as inviting the companies concerned to also conduct business-as-usual practices. In essence nothing changes - we are merely encouraging the peat fires to return again and again in the coming years.Ē†

San Afri added that†the ministryís monitoring efforts†form part of its attempt to ascertain to what extent peat restoration activities have been performed in concession areas this year, given that last yearís serious and massive peat fires occurred to a significant degree in these concession areas, and were especially prevalent in pulpwood and†palm oil concessions.†

ďAs of early December this year, the ministryís monitoring has led to the conclusion that no peat restoration efforts have been carried out in APPís pulpwood concessions,Ē said the DG indignantly.

In other words, the Director General has come to the conclusion that, based on the ministry's monitoring findings, the APP group continues with its business-as-usual practices which are compounded by a failure to undertake any peat restoration efforts across its supply chain.

Adding insult to injury, not only is APP still replanting acacia in last year's burned peatlands, but it is also replanting acacia in drained peat domes after the previous acacia harvest has been completed.