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Press Release

16 May 2013
SMG/APP’s broken promise unchecked in Riau, Sumatra

Independent monitoring alleges the company’s wood supplier in Sumatra toviolate APP’s forest conservation policy and clearance moratorium

Pekanbaru, Sumatra – Field investigation by Eyes on the Forest (EoF) found that a wood supplier to the Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) cleared natural forest during the SMG/APP imposed forest clearance moratorium in Riau Province, Sumatra.

“This incident, as those reported by Kalimantan NGOs in March, occurred while APP and their consultant, The Forest Trust, were busy traveling the globe marketing the company’s new policy,” says Hariansyah Usman of WALHI Riau. “Important is what happens in the field, not what appears in marketing papers.”

Eyes on the Forest investigators observed excavators felling natural peat forest trees in PT Riau Indo Agropalma’s (RIA) concession in Kerumutan, habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger. SMG/APP has yet to complete independent High Conservation Value, High Carbon Stock and peat expert studies for these concessions which the company has said are pre-requisite for restarting of any development operations.

“If SMG/APP is really serious about conservation, buyers would expect that APP priority step is to stop all and every deforestation and development action”, says Aditya Bayunanda of WWF Indonesia. “This supplier has cleared the last remaining forest in its concession, on deep peat soil in Sumatran tiger habitat without an independent HCV, HCS and peat assessments. Will APP and TFT once again claim that this was already privately agreed behind closed doors so is not a breach to the FCP commitments?”

On 7 May, TFT published its 2nd progress report on APP’s policy implementation up to mid- April, giving the general impression that the policy implementation and stakeholder engagement went successfully. Eleven Indonesian civil society groups who participated in various SMG/APP/TFT organized ‘focus group discussions’, clearly do not agree and pointed out many outstanding weaknesses of the policy, and its implementation and monitoring in an open letter to the company on 24 April 2013.

"NGOs’ findings clearly prove that APP is not implementing commitments it made”, says Muslim Rasyid of Jikalahari. “The violations show that APP is not genuinely committed to conservation and we fear the FCP campaign is just another greenwashing to the global market.”

“Eyes on the Forest recommends that buyers and other business partners of APP remain very cautious and not do business with the company,” says Hariansyah Usman of WALHI Riau. “We suggest people do not believe TFT as the ‘independent observer’ APP markets them to be. TFT progress report cannot be believed without truly independent verification in the field.”

The company insists its mills can continue to accept and pulp natural forest timber that it claims was felled before the moratorium started, creating a loophole which suppliers may utilize to feed wood into the mills from new deforestation in violation of the policy. Reports by West Kalimantan NGOS and Eyes on the Forest on cutting of tropical forest in three independent suppliers’ concessions indicated concerns that freshly cleared timber may be “laundered” into pulp mills.

Notes for editors:

l  The report is published at: http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id

l  The investigative photos are published in the Eyes on the Forest-Google Earth online Sumatra database at: http://maps.eyeontheforest.or.id

l  Video of finding by EoF can be seen at: http://vimeo.com/66048150

l  On APP’s forest conservation policy, see the previous report by Eyes on the Forest at:

http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id/?page=news&action=view&id=624

l  On 26 March, NGOs in Kalimantan published a report that APP’s suppliers continued logging and peat canal development activities after te FCP imposed moratorium:

http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id/attach/Joint%20Press%20Release_APP%20FCP%20Violation%20in%20West%20Kalimantan_English.pdf 

l  On 9 April, the same group published its reply to the rebuttal by The Forest Trust:

http://www.wwf.or.id/en/?27920/Borneos-RPHK-consortium-rebuts-APP-and-The-Forest-Trusts-Verification-Report-APPs-Forest-Conservation-Policyshould-embrace-more-relevant-stakeholders-and-truly-protect-forest-peat-lands

l  Joint letter by 11 civil society groups (Burung Indonesia, Huma, Jikalahari, JPIK Focal Point Kalimantan Barat, Link-AR Borneo, Sampan, Scale Up, Titian, Wahana Bumi Hijau, Warsi and WWF Indonesia) to APP is published at:

http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id/?page=news&action=view&id=627



***


EoF is a coalition of three local environmental organizations in Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia : WWF Indonesia's Tesso Nilo Programme, Jikalahari ("Forest Rescue Network Riau") and Walhi Riau (Friends of the Earth Indonesia). It was launched in December 2004 to investigate the state of Riau''s forests and the players who influence it.
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