Pulpwood supplier and peat restoration areas razed by fires in Riau

EoF News / 25 August 2018
Peat dome burning inside APRIL’s supplier PT SRL Block 3 in Teluk Bano 1 village on coordinate N1°51'37.91" E100°46'55.59" which sits inside peat dome restoration priority area with canals (protected zone). Photo Eyes on the Forest, 18 August 2018, ©Eyes on the Forest 2018

Eyes on the Forest coalition conducted last week series of ground checking on burned areas and found a concession of industrial timber supplier in Rokan Hilir district and peat restoration priority areas in Bengkalis razed by fires.  The restoration areas were also situated on land of indicative map on new permit issuance suspension (dubbed as PIPPIB).

As detected by NASA FIRMS VIIRS satellite, and analyzed by EoF, 4942 hotspots were found in Riau on 11-22 August period.

A concession of pulpwood plantation that observed on the spot by EoF is PT Sumatera Riang Lestari block 3 (supplier to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited /APRIL) which in recent years has been razed by fires.  Analysis by Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics in Pekanbaru last week said over 1,000 hectares in Rokan Hilir burned.

EoF observed randomly in Teluk Bano 1 village, Bangko Pusako of Rokan Hilir, that sourced of burnings came from palm oil plantation grown in concession of PT SRL block  3, a supplier to APRIL/Royal Golden Eagle. EoF GIS team analyzed that the burned areas in PT SRL concession were part of Peat Restoration Agency’s peat dome restoration priority area with canals and without canals meaning they are protection zones.  

Below maps: Maps on PT Sumatera Riang Lestari block 3 concession in Rokan Hilir and former concession of PT Rimba Rokan Perkasa in Bengkalis which show fire/hotspots located on peat dome restoration area. EoF conducted field check of fires from data found in period of  7-14 August. Maps developed by EoF 2018 from official sources.

Locals said that the burnings had been occurring in protected peat zones since July.  “We have no idea of where the fires come from, obviously our plantation was burned and we suffered the loss,” a resident of Teluk Bano in anonymity told EoF News during the ground checking last week. He said apparently no sides made efforts to extinguish the fires despite it had been taking place for one month.

Beside Rokan Hilir, EoF also found peat burnings occurred in Bengkalis district, in Buluh Apo village of Pinggir sub-district. The police said the 25-hectare burned area was under investigation and informed publicly the location on point N1°6’16” and E101°2’35”.

EoF learned that the area where palm oil trees and vegetation razed by fires was formerly APP’s PT Rimba Rokan Perkasa concession, a supplier to its pulp mill PT Indah Kiat in Perawang, Siak.  Its permit was revoked in 2016, an official at Ministry of Environment and Forestry said. As EoF GIS team analyzed by overlaying the burned area resulted that it was peat restoration priority area of peat dome that should be protected as set up by Peat Restoration Agency (BRG).  

Director of Grievance, Supervision and Administrative Sanction, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, said last year that PT RRP’s permit was revoked through court case. “But the area now is included in PIPPIB [indicative map on new permit issuance suspension] area, so that there is any license nor activity there,” she added as quoted by detikcom.

Provincial (BPBD) Riau noted that from January to August at least 2,635 hectares of land was burned in the province.   

Reports said the efforts by Manggala Agni firefighters (from the ministry) along with army and police squads to put out the fires were amid hot temperature and shortage of water on the  ground. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) deployed helicopters to extinguish widespread fires.  

According to official data by 18 August, ex PT RRP Rokan Hilir is the most area impacted by fires with 1,263 hectares, then followed by Meranti islands 938 and Bengkalis 512.