APRIL in flagrant violation of its own sustainability policy, according to CSO coalition

(foresthints.news) - Due to the recent clearance of forested peatlands and the development of new canals by the APRIL-owned company PT RAPP in its concession on Pulau Padang in Sumatra's Riau province, a leading environmental CSO coalition group, Jikalahari, or the Riau Forest Rescue Network, feels that this proves APRIL is neither prioritizing nor implementing its own sustainability policy which was launched in early June last year.

"The authorization of the APRIL company's annual work plan was done through a process of self-approval. This means that top executives from the company have the legal space to adapt the current year’s annual work plan to their sustainability policy. However, this is not what they’re doing,” lamented Woro Supartinah, Coordinator of Jikalahari, when speaking to foresthints.news on Tuesday (Sep 13).

Woro explained that APRIL was also permitted the space, in a legal sense, to compile an annual work plan that does not have to be one hundred percent exactly like its 10-year work plan, bearing in mind that APRIL’s operations need to be adjusted to its sustainability policy.

Woro went on to condemn APRIL vociferously. “Of course we cannot accept what APRIL is doing. It is trying to use its 10-year work plan as a scapegoat for justifying violations committed by itself of its own sustainability policy.”

The 2013 10-year work plan of the APRIL company was serving as its work plan at a time when APRIL had yet to announce its June 2015 sustainability policy. According to Woro, APRIL has tried to change the relevant issue, from one of commitment to sustainability, into a legal issue. However, she stressed, the legal issue they have raised is irrelevant.

“The recent incidents that have taken place in the APRIL concession on Pulau Padang show that APRIL has chosen to continue using antiquated practices rather than refer to its sustainability commitments. We have yet to see any substantial reforms on the part of APRIL in implementing its own sustainability policy,” Woro reiterated.

Corporate violations

The transgressions perpetrated by the APRIL company on Pulau Padang were quite clearly the actions of a corporation. The APRIL group not only breached its own sustainability policy, but was also in flagrant contravention of the government’s current undertaking not to allow any more development of peatlands. These are the thoughts of Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of WALHI Riau - Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

“The actions of APRIL are completely paradoxical to the government’s present commitment,” Riko told foresthints.news on Wednesday (Sep 14).

He warned that if we were to accept APRIL’s argument that its operations refer to its annual work plan, then APRIL will continue to violate its sustainability policy, including disregarding the government’s commitment to protecting peatlands.

With respect to the issue of conflict between the APRIL pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang and the local communities, Riko pointed out that the presence of the pulpwood concession has given rise to sustained conflict with the people residing there.

This has happened, he added, due to the problem of poor forestry governance, including the destructive practices carried out by the APRIL pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang.

“This issue must be addressed,” asserted Riko.

In following up on public complaints, Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency Chief, Nazir Foead, went in person to the PT RAPP pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang in order to inspect the nature of the grievances on the ground (Sep 5). While on site, Nazir declared quite frankly that the APRIL company had committed violations in the peatlands.

In response to the violations committed by the pulp and paper giant, the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry has suspended the operations of the pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang until such a time as the APRIL company has revised its 10-year work plan.