Investigative Report: APP/SMG threatens Senepis forest, sumatran tiger habitat, and global climate

EoF Investigative Report / 20 October 2008

A new investigation by Eyes on the Forest has found that companies associated with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)/Sinar Mas Group (SMG) are completing construction of a legally questionable logging highway through a peatland forest block in Riau Province that is important for the conservation of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae).

The highway project is part of a continuing pattern of forest destruction by APP/SMG and their associated companies in central Sumatra.  Field investigations by Eyes on the Forest (EoF) have found that APP/SMG-associated companies have completed a 45-kilometer highway and paved nearly half of it already. Construction of the road has resulted in a 50-meter-wide swath of opened forest along the 45 kilometers. The road splits the Senepis peat forest in two, releasing significant amounts of climate-altering carbon emissions from the clearing and drainage canals on both sides.

In addition, the clearing that has already taken place in Senepis by the APP/SMG-associated companies has considerably shrunk the size of the forest, which has led to an increase in human-tiger conflict in the area and the deaths of nine people. Riau Province is a stronghold for the Sumatran tiger, of which fewer than 400 survive in the wild. Legally questionable forest clearing by APP/SMG and their associated companies has been well-documented in Riau Province.

This latest investigation suggests a continuing pattern of natural forest destruction and a high likelihood of violations of Indonesian laws by the group. As reported by various NGOs this year, APP/SMG and their associated companies are threatening an additional two important natural forest areas in Sumatra by opening new logging roads and clearing natural forest along them:  In a January 2008 report, WARSI, Program Konservasi Harimau Sumatera/PKHS, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Zoological Society of London and WWF Indonesia called on APP/SMG and their associated companies to stop threatening Bukit Tigapuluh dry lowland forest block and Sumatran tigers, elephants, orangutans and the indigenous people, the Orang Rimba, who live in this threatened forest. 

In March 2008, Eyes on the Forest called on APP/SMG and their associated companies to stop threatening the Kampar peatland forest block and the Sumatran tigers it shelters, along with carbon stores whose release affects the world’s climate.