NGOs keep an eye on pulpwood certification

EoF News / 29 January 2008

Pekanbaru (EoF News)-- Forestry certification assessment agency, LEI (Indonesia Ecolabel Agency), pledged to monitor tightly certification process in the controversial concession of PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper’s (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited/APRIL) in Kampar Peninsula, the rich peatland forest landscape.

This statement made by LEI following the urgent call from Riau NGOs coalition, by Jikalahari and Walhi Riau, two weeks ago to cancel the initial phase of certification process on PT RAPP’s sustainable pulpwood plantation in Pelalawan estate. The coalition also urged LEI to scrutinize thoroughly the condition of the APRIL’s concession that its license is granted by Minister of Forestry Decree Number 356/KPTS-II/2004 before performing the initial certification assessment. “We see that two key points that conveyed by Riau NGOs coalition and these need serious paying attention by the Certification Agency, they are conversion occurs in area that should be protected and the land conversion activity [goes on] despite there is no definitive license issued by the Ministry of Forestry,” Taufiq Alimi, LEI Executive Director, said in a press release (18/1/2008).

The coalition said that previously the size of pulpwood concession (HTI) was only 159,500 hectare where the MoF license extended it by 235,140 ha. “The license issued by the Minister of Forestry in 2004, but as the matter of fact, based on finding on the ground, the conversion had occurred long time before the license issued,” said Susanto Kurniawan, coordinator of Jikalahari, the NGOs network comprising of 28 organizations. The NGOs believed that satellite image Landsat in 2007 recorded that the Pelalawan estate concession had been converted by 65,218 ha or 80% of total area.

The conversion believed to start in 2000 by 6,458 ha, the coalition said. “LEI itself believes that forest area conversion is not allowed to conduct in the area that should be conserved and also asks PT Mutu Agung Lestari, the accredited certification agency, to examine thoroughly the existence and legality of permits that become operational base by PT RAPP,” Taufiq Alimi said. Raflis of the NGOs coalition said that entirely the concession belongs to APRIL’s RAPP located in peat swamp forest with the depth of more than 3 meter that should protected based on the presidential decree number 32/1990. While, Troy Pantouw of PT RAPP insisted that concerning to its Pelalawan pulpwood development, the pulp company is complying with the laws, Sinar Harapan daily reported (25/1/2008).