October 10, 2019

New evidence reaffirms APP as haze producer

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) -  Asia Pulp and Paper (APP/Sinarmas) has proven itself once again to be one of the region’s haze-producing companies, among other things, due to serious peat fires burning in another pulpwood concession it controls (PT RHM) in South Sumatra’s Musi Banyuasin regency.   

These peat fires have destroyed significant areas which were legally-designated as a conservation zone by the APP company, highlighting the failure of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy to protect the company’s conservation areas.

It is worth remembering that parts of the PT RHM concession were also substantially burned in 2015, ground-based evidence of which was revealed in a report by Greenomics Indonesia. As such, within the last four years, this APP Sinarmas group company has twice been culpable for haze-causing fires. 

Given these facts, APP cannot hide from the conclusion that it is responsible for the current transboundary haze to a certain extent. 

The first Planet Explorer image below depicts the spread of peat fires in the area, the vast majority of which are burning inside the PT RHM concession (delineated in yellow). The second image, meanwhile, shows more closely how these peat fires have scorched the APP company’s conservation areas.

The images above, based on NASA active fire data (Sep 18-21), call into question how APP could possibly handle fire spots in a 5 km radius outside of its concessions, as the company has promised, given that it has consistently failed to protect even areas within its concessions from fires. 

APP comments

APP responded in writing with regard to the PT RHM case (Oct 9), stating “As we go through this drier season, APP remains vigilant and is responding rapidly to fires started by a third party in and around our concession, as we aim to keep the fires as small as possible.”

This comment from APP blaming a third party is completely inconsistent with the claim from its 2016 sustainability report that “Hotspots are tracked up to 5 km outside of concession areas. If a hot spot is detected and confirmed, 2,700 certified firefighters are on call across 266 monitoring posts.”

Considering APP's claim that it can manage confirmed hotspots up to 5 km outside of its concession areas, one would assume that the company could handle fires inside its concessions. It seems really strange therefore that APP is blaming a third party for starting the fires inside its concession. 

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Oct 8), APP has failed to protect areas within another of its concessions (PT WKS), as well as up to 5 km outside of the concession boundary, reinforcing the company’s status as one of this year’s haze-producing companies.

It is indeed regrettable that despite the significant efforts it has invested, APP remains responsible for 2019’s transboundary haze at a certain level, most notably during September this year.