APRIL proven to have misled the public regarding serious peatland violations

(foresthints.news) - PT RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL, misled the public by making a public statement to the effect that its operations always refer to an annual work plan that is authorized by the government. In fact, PT RAPP’s annual work plan had merely been approved by the company itself rather than by the government.

This attempt to mislead the public was made in response to allegations that the pulp and paper giant has committed serious recent violations, as uncovered in an inspection made in person by the Chief of Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency on Monday (Sep 5) in one of the company’s pulpwood concessions in Pulau Padang, an island in Sumatra's Riau province.

These serious violations refer to APRIL’s continuing clearance of deep forested peatlands, including performing drainage and building canals in deep peat in this concession.

“We once regret the actions of APRIL in trying to mislead the public by claiming that their annual work plan was authorized by the government. This is blatantly misleading. In reality, the annual work plan of PT RAPP was authorized through a self-approval mechanism,” Nazir Foead, Chief of Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency, told foresthints.news on Wednesday (Sep 7) in Jakarta.

In following up on the matter, foresthints.news received confirmation of Nazir’s statement from the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry. The ministry expressly stated that the annual work plan of PT RAPP was not authorized by the government, but instead received self-approval from the APRIL company itself.

“It’s as if APRIL wants to tell the public that the serious violations they have committed are based on something authorized by the government. I urge APRIL to stop spreading propaganda in public as they have done in this case,” said Nazir in a raised voice.

These two photos received by foresthints.news from the peat agency show the serious recent violations committed by APRIL. These violations consist of the clearance, drainage and building of new canals in deep forested peatlands in its Pulau Padang pulpwood concession.

Nazir explained that an unannounced inspection of the Pulau Padang pulpwood concession demonstrated the responsiveness of the peat agency in acting on reports from the local communities. He added that in this case, APRIL was not only clearing community plantations but also forested peatlands.

“The government has asked companies to carry out canal blocking, not to make new canals as has been done by the APRIL group. I have witnessed this first-hand in the field, based on a report from the local communities. We really strive to be responsive when it comes to public complaints.”

The Peat Agency Chief cautioned APRIL not to hide behind the government for its serious transgressions in peatlands, bearing in mind that the annual work plan of the APRIL subsidiary had not been authorized by the government.

Even more damning is that the violations committed by APRIL actually contravene the company’s own sustainability policy.

In early January this year, President Joko Widodo established the Peat Restoration Agency which, amongst other things, designated the Regency of Kepulauan Meranti as a priority regency for peat restoration. Pulau Padang, where the APRIL concession concerned is located, forms part of this regency.

The clearing of deep forested peatlands in a peat restoration priority regency, then draining the area and building new canals, was always sure to give rise to far-reaching questions about APRIL’s operations, particularly from the peat agency in light of the President’s firmness on this issue.