Peat agency appreciates APP owner's apology and promise of data

(foresthints.news) - Nazir Foead, Chief of the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency, declared that owner of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a prominent member of the Widjaja family, has expressed his regret to the peat agency for certain moves made by the company which were considered to be counterproductive to supporting peat restoration efforts in Indonesia.

Pak Franky Widjaja has apologized to the peat agency for the inappropriate attitude adopted by the APP team with respect to the mechanism for submitting data to the peat agency. Of course, I welcome and appreciate this apology. The companys owner also promised that the relevant data would be submitted as soon as possible at the beginning of next week to my deputy in charge of planning, Nazir told foresthints.news on Friday evening (Jun 10).

The apology was made in the wake of sharp criticism from the Peat Restoration Agency and the Environment and Forestry Ministry to the effect that the public statement released by APP containing the chronology of its submission of data to the ministry was misleading.

As to APPs promised plan to submit the relevant data, Nazir has instructed his deputy to make an immediate study of the data when it is submitted to the agency to see whether it conforms with the data required, as requested in a letter sent to APP, or not.

The peat agency, he continued, would only declare that the data had been received if it was consistent with the list of data requested in the letter.

Nazir said that it made legal sense and was logical for the agency to pay special attention to reviewing any data which derives from APP concerning all the pulpwood concessions linked to it, given that almost 70 percent of the companys fiber supply chain in Sumatra alone, as an example, was located in peatlands.

In addition, the presence of peat domes in APP-linked concessions is very significant. Not only that, the amount of burned peatlands situated in APP-linked concessions is also especially significant, particularly in South Sumatra, Nazir said.

The data currently in the possession of the peat agency, he added, is data that comes from the government along with data submitted to the peat agency by relevant forestry stakeholders as their input.

As such, Nazir pointed out, data was still needed from APP itself which could then be comprehensively studied by a team of experts from the peat agency. This, he added, would also present an opportunity for APP to explain all matters regarding the data on peatlands spread throughout its fiber supply chain, both in Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).

The APP owner acknowledged that the mandate given to the peat agency forms part of an especially important national agenda for Indonesian peat restoration efforts. Its really good news that this view exists at the ownership level, enthused Nazir.

Balance between economic growth and peat restoration

As to the need for a balance between economic growth and the peatland restoration efforts, the Peat Agency Chief asserted that such a balance needs to be determined on the ground and be based on data that holds up to both legal and technical scrutiny.

All peat domes located in pulpwood concessions must be incorporated into protection zones. There is no room for compromise on this issue, he affirmed.

Nazir is confident that the restoration of peat in Indonesia will complement economic growth to an even greater degree. The reason for this is clear to see. Last year's land and forest fires alone, in which peatlands were significantly affected, caused losses of up to USD 16.1 billion, the equivalent of IDR 221 trillion, according to World Bank calculations.

Nazir concluded by saying, If we just let these peat fires continue every year, they will continue to bring about losses to the Indonesian economy on an annual basis. It means we are just allowing for an unhealthy economy. This is not healthy for national economic growth and its also not healthy for the annual victims of the peat fires.