Ten years ago, in 14 July 2010, Eyes on the Forest published a report focusing large-scale deforestation by Asia Pulp & Paper and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited against their own published sustainability policies and commitments to buyers, investors and the general public to protect High Conservation Value Forests, critical species habitats and the climate.
Amid Norway Government’s commitment to support Indonesia “to contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland conversion”, at the same time, APP and APRIL continue conversion of natural forest and deep peat in Riau province, already Indonesia’s province with the highest GHG emissions, and one of the candidates to become a REDD+ pilot province under the Indonesia-Norway agreement. On 26 May 2010, Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent to form the partnership.
In its December 2009 Investigative Report, Eyes on the Forest reported on the background of a two year moratorium of all natural forest sourcing by APP and APRIL in Riau between 2007 and 2008 because of a large-scale investigation by police and anticorruption authorities into illegal operations. The investigation was suddenly cancelled amid questionable circumstances and resulted only in the prosecution of an ex local government official. As a result of the police investigation, the Riau Forestry Service refused to issue permits to APP and APRIL wood suppliers even to restart natural forest clearance in 2009.
However, after changing regulations on the clearing of natural forest by the pulp & paper industry, the previous Minister of Forestry rushed to issue the permits himself, ahead of a new Government, and a new Minister of Forestry coming into power in late 2009. By legalizing the clearance of natural forest by 25 companies affiliated with APP and APRIL, this has allowed the large scale pulping of the province’s remaining forests to restart with dramatic consequences:
-Clearing of 5% of the natural forest remaining in Riau in 2008/9, an area twice the size of Indonesia’s metropolis Jakarta.
-Clearing of large areas of natural forest after draining of peat with >3 meters depth in violation of existing law, including the globally recognized Kampar peninsula, considered to be the largest bio-carbon reserve in the region.
-Undermining of the President’s global commitment to reduce the country’s mostly peat drainage related GHG emissions by up to 41%.