No Place to Hide for Sinar Mas APP: its devastation of the country’s natural forest is clear and present and for everybody to see
Jakarta, Indonesia – Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp & Paper (SMG/APP) attempted to give itself a clean bill of health last week by covering up its forest destruction in an ‘assured’ long winded report. But there is no place to hide for this company. Satellites images have been capturing and documenting every single hectare that the company has destroyed for years.
“We have no doubt, paper SMG/APP produces in its mills contains Sumatra’s timber from dense tropical rainforest”, Aditya Bayunanda WWF’s Pulp & Paper Coordinator for Indonesia confirms. “After pulping more than a million hectares of Indonesia’s forests since it first opened its Indah Kiat mill in Riau, Sumatra, APP applied for and plans to clear yet another 100,000 hectares of natural forest in 2009 and 2010. “100,000 hectare today and 1,000,000 hectare yesterday cannot be hidden. These areas and the forests that were once there have been verified on satellite images, through aerial surveys and field visits many times.” said Aditya.
WWF is one of dozens of Indonesian NGOs who have been detailing this and much more in numerous reports in an independent and transparent manner. The facts are there, in the open for everybody to see and for everyone to check. WWF invites those who want to see to come and verify for themselves. This invitation especially goes to Mazars, the latest in a series of contractors hired to ‘assure’ the public about SMG/APP’s record. Actually, Mazars distanced itself from its ‘assurance report’ for SMG/APP even in its cover letter explaining that the “Board of Directors of the [SMG/APP] Companies [who hired Mazars] are responsible for both the subject matter and the evaluation criteria.
The Mazars ‘assurance report’ itself, nor any of the SMG/APP specific references APP quoted in its audited CSR report are publicly available. No published NGO report on SMG/APP operations was referenced in the APP’s audited CSR report, therefore not verified by Mazars. The public is thus provided with nothing but a cover letter on an unpublished ‘assurance report’ about documents that are not made available to public.
SMG/APP is clearing natural peat forests in 2010 despite the fact that it committed to all its stakeholders in 2004 that its operations would be free of all natural forest timber by 2007. The commitment was made in a “sustainability action plan” produced under a letter of intent APP and its parent company, the Sinar Mas Group signed with WWF in August 2003.
WWF stopped its engagement with SMG/APP in 2004 when the company insisted on cutting an additional 180,000 hectares of natural forest “to become sustainable” while failing to commit to protect High Conservation Value Forests and to impose a temporary moratorium on natural forests under its control while HCVF assessments were being conducted. In fact, since 2004, SMG/APP has cleared much more natural forest than it had originally announced.
Permit applications and satellite images show that until today SMG/APP has been targeting dense forests with high biodiversity, including Sumatran tiger, elephants, and orangutans that are often the home of indigenous peoples. SMG/APP has eradicated over a million hectares of tiger habitat already with its deforestation campaign in central Sumatra while applauding itself for contributing 15,025 ha to the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary in Riau. But even in that area, most had already been protected for tigers by government zoning.
Many of the cleared tiger forests stood on top of carbon-rich deep peat soil giving the company what must be one of the industry’s worst carbon foot prints. Yet in 2009, SMG/APP contractor ‘Environmental Resources Management (ERM)’ had provided the company with a much advertised near zero carbon footprint. ERM, upon advice by SMG/APP, had ignored the emissions caused by the large volumes of tropical timber APP uses for its pulp production and, most of all, the vast emissions the drainage of the company’s plantations on peat cause. In an accounting maneuver ERM, in its confidential report, had also added the minor carbon sequestration of the very plantations that cause the emissions from peat degradation to reach SMG/APP’s goal of a “near zero” footprint.
This continued deforestation and destruction of peat carbon resources is done at a time when the government has just re-confirmed its commitment to protect the country’s natural forest and peatlands by signing a REDD+ Letter of Intent with the government of Norway in May 2010. WWF-Indonesia supports the Indonesian government’s development of a REDD+ action plan and considers stopping emissions generated by deforestation and peat drainage for pulp production a key action.
“We strongly believe pulp and paper can be a leading sector for Indonesia that can operate and expand sustainably and responsibly without further deforestation. Millions of hectare of deforested lands, currently not commercially used or under-used have been mapped. WWF-Indonesia is committed to work with companies committed to lead. Unfortunately APP is not among them,” says Nazir Foead, Director of WWF Indonesia Corporate Engagement. “It is time for APP to live up to its commitments and to stop all conversion of natural forest.”
Aditya Bayunanda, WWF Indonesia’s Pulp & Paper Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org; +62818265588
Nazir Foead, WWF Indonesia’s Policy & Corporate Engagement Director, email@example.com; +62811977604