APRIL’s deforestation continues as its restoration program launched

EoF News / 20 May 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) — Despite a restoration program organized by a company affiliated to pulp giant in Kampar Peninsula, Riau province, launched and endorsed by the Ministry of Forestry, environmentalists criticized it as a manuoevre by wo-faced company which merely seek benefit from credit carbon scheme.   

In the first week of  May, Minister of Forestry, Zulkifli Hasan, in Jakarta inaugurated the million-dollar ecosystem restoration program initiated by PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL).

The restoration program of  around 20 thousand hectares of deep peat Kampar Peninsula forest in Riau is planned to overcome forest degradation and deforestation, said APRIL management as reported by media.

However, Muslim Rasyid,  Jikalahari coordinator, commented to Eyes on the Forest:  “An applause should be addressed to PT RAPP (PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper)  for their commitment in creating the never-ending-save-forest fiction to cover the ugly truth which the company has been doing along the way.”

Rasyid urged the company to stop deforestation in Kampar Peninsula as APRIL group has pulped thousands hectares of natural peat forest in the rich-carbon area.

The Minister of  Forestry said the restoration is very crucial to recover forest to its normal condition in order to restore the biodiversity, structrure and other natural aspects in the industrial forest areas, local media reported. In addition, the restoration in Riau is also meant to set the pattern of industrial forest ecosystem management.

Timber Forest Product Utilization Restoration (IUPHHK-RE) license is given to PT Gemilang Cipta Nusantara and the restoration itself is funded by  APRIL that obtains a license for the next 60 years with expanding several investments to re-greening forests in Kampar peninsula.

Previously, on 12 November 2010, PT. Gemilang Cipta Nusantara applied for IUPHHK-RE in former area of selecting logging concession IUPHHKHAlicense of  PT. Agam Sempurna through to the Ministry of Forestry (MoF). This request was rejected by the MoF dated January 17, 2011 through a letter No: S.44/VI-BUHA/2011, Mongabay.co.id reported.

Though has been rejected by MoF, after the election of new Pelalawan District Head on 7 April 2011, the elected pair of Muhammad Harris and Marwan Ibrahim issued recomendations for PT Gemilang Cipta Nusantara (PT GCN) two weeks after they both were appointed. It was responded by the Head of Integrated Licensing Service of Riau Province who provided recomendations for PT Gemilang Citra Nusantara through letter No.503/BP2T-IR/203.

In short, based upon the District Head’s recommendation, the Minister of Forestry grant an ecosystem restoration license for PT GCN, while only gave 4,000 hectares in total for the two community forests: Segamai and Serapung which launched by the Minister in March.

On the sudden recommendation issued by the newly elected Head of Pelalawan district, Muslim Rasyid added, "This indicates that the modus of corporate crime forestry is still running until this moment in Pelalawan,” as quoted by mongabay.co.id (May 10, 2013).

While, WALHI Riau executive director Hariansyah Usman said that it is ironic that the company received its restoration program operating licenses at almost the same time from the Ministry of Forestry’s green light to APRIL to resume clear natural forests in Padang Island which began in April 2013. He indicated that the restoration program is just a camouflage by APRIL to boost its opportunity to do business of carbon credit in the future.

On  May 6, 2013,  civil society organizations like JKPP,  Jikalahari,  LBH Pekanbaru, STR, Corruption Trial Riau and Narasi Pokja Riau who are members of Solidarity to farmers and criminalized activist (SAKSI) issued a joint statement that the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia and PT RAPP has committed a law violation by allegedly intimidating people, and criminalizing farmers and agrarian environmental activists in Padang Island, Kepulauan Meranti District, Riau Province, during the last four years.

Furtermore, the local citizens of Padang Island also protested the on-going deforestation by RAPP. Since the past two weeks, the residents of Padang Island reported that at least 40 units of heavy equipments owned by PT RAPP have been operating in Hiu River, Tanjung Padang Village, and 3 units of heavy equipments in the Lukit village, Senalit, Merbau sub-district. Three pontoons containing felled natural wood is also found in Senalit.

The above facts show that PT RAPP is still operating although since January 3rd, 2012 MoF had suspended all forest management activities by the company in Padang Island until further notice.