January 17, 2019

APP expansion diminishes conservation zone

(foresthints.news) - Not only has the APP-owned company PT Arara Abadi re-drained peatlands that have been recovering for longer than a decade, as earlier reported by foresthints.news (Jan 14), but it has also been found to be developing new acacia plantations in forested peatlands.

Even more alarming is the fact that this new forested peatland clearing and draining involves a conservation zone in the APP-owned company’s concession situated in Riau’s Siak regency on the island of Sumatra.

With reference to this case, foresthints.news sent a GPS point of the location of the new acacia development, which makes up part of the conservation zone, to APP.

In response, however, APP sent back a map (Jan 11) showing that the location provided by this news portal does not lie in its conservation zone, but rather is in an acacia development block. 

Surprisingly, it turns out that the APP company has changed its revised 10-year work plan, which was approved by the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry in late September 2017, by ‘eating up’ some of the conservation zone and turning it into an acacia development block. 

Based on the September 2017 revised work plan and as seen in the first map below, the peatlands delineated in yellow represent the acacia development block, while those delineated in red constitute forested peatlands which fall within the APP company’s conservation zone.

Meanwhile, the second map below, which is consistent with the map sent by APP to foresthints.news, indicates that the forested peatlands delineated in red, previously part of the company’s conservation zone, have now been changed to become part of the acacia development block (delineated in yellow). 

Destructive move

Turning parts of a conservation zone into an acacia development block is unquestionably a destructive move on the part of APP. Moreover, major parts of this converted conservation zone comprise forested peatlands.

Making matters worse, portions of these forested peatlands lying in the conservation zone, which have been switched to become part of the acacia development block, have already been cleared and drained by the APP company.

The following Google Earth and Planet Explorer images highlight one example of new acacia development in forested peatlands by the APP company involving part of the conservation block (delineated in red, in accordance with the company’s September 2017 approved revised work plan). 

In 2015, before its September 2017 work plan had been made, the conservation zone (delineated in red), as shown above, was also legally established by the APP company as part of its concession's conservation zone. 

Following up on this matter, foresthints.news queried APP about the new acacia development taking place in portions of the conservation zone. 

However, APP did not answer the questions put to it concerning the changes to its company’s September 2017 revised work plan.

This is unfortunate given that the APP company’s move has led to parts of the forested peatlands within the concession’s conservation block being used for its acacia plantation expansion.

Instead, APP, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, has continued to insist that, “Our Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) does not allow new acacia plantation in forested peatlands as we have a commitment to protect them under our FCP.” 

Nonetheless, the spatial evidence demonstrated above, in the form of high-resolution Google Earth and Planet Explorer images, makes it clear that there is no point in the APP company hiding the fact that it has been planting new acacia in parts of its previously-established conservation zone. 

No other choice

This case underlines that APP has targeted parts of existing forested peatlands distributed in a previously-established conservation zone to form part of its new acacia plantation, in line with the map sent to foresthints.news.

As such, APP has no other choice but to immediately return the parts of the conservation zone which were still legally-maintained in its September 2017 company work plan and subsequently changed into an acacia development block.