Eyes on the Forest to APRIL: Cease all destruction of one of the world’s largest tropical peatland forests – Kampar peninsula in Riau, Sumatra,

EoF Investigative Report / 28 March 2008

Today, EoF is particularly concerned that APP and affiliated companies could restart clearance of natural forest and destruction of deep peat soil any time this year in a globally recognized key conservation area -- one of the world’s largest contiguous tropical peat swamp forest blocks, with more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem on Earth.

The area is called Kampar peninsula in Riau. Eyes on the Forest demands that APP immediately halt all activities that are destructive, strongly indicated as illegal, and legally questionable in the landscape APP is currently threatening at least four forest blocks in central Sumatra: 1. Kampar peninsula as detailed in this report, 2. Bukit Tigapuluh dry lowland forest block, as WARSI, Program Konservasi Harimau Sumatera/PKHS, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Zoological Society of London and WWF-Indonesia jointly reported on APP’s illegal, legally questionable, and destructive activities recently (see their joint investigative report1 and press release2 ), 3. Senepis (see, for example, WWF-Indonesia’s APP monitoring report from October 20063 ) and 4. Kerumutan peatland forests. Kampar peninsula is a contiguous peat soil area of around 700,000 hectares. By 2002, it was still fully covered by natural forest, but only around 400,000 of that remained in 2007.

Most of the lost forest was cleared to supply natural forest wood to pulp mills run by APP and its competitor, Asia Pacific Resources International Holding (APRIL), and then planted in acacia plantations. A small part has been converted into oil palm plantations or wastelands. Local NGO network Jikalahari has formally proposed that the Ministry of Forestry protect the natural forest of Kampar. Jikalahari also jointly signed an MoU with Siak and Pelalawan District Administrations at a side event of Bali COP last year  WWF included these forests in the Sundaland Rivers and Swamps ecosystem of its Global 200 priority ecoregions and proposed to the Ministry of Forestry to protect Kampar. 

Kampar peninsula is a “Regional Priority Tiger Conservation Landscape” for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger whose wild population is estimated to be down to just 400-500. A rapid tiger survey conducted in Kampar concluded that the rate of photo-capture by camera traps was the highest achieved by any published study on Sumatran tigers in Indonesia.

A preliminary estimate by WWF-Indonesia shows that a well--managed Kampar peninsula could contain as many as 60 tigers. Wetlands International identified Kampar as one of the highest priority areas for inclusion in the protected area network. Conservation International’s Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspot includes Kampar BirdLife International has designated it as an “Important Bird Area APP in Kampar peninsula – investigation findings According to EoF investigations in December 2006, March-April-June 200714 and February 2008, an APP-affiliated company, Arara Abadi, started to build a new logging highway in 2005 from the northern coast of Kampar to the south.