APP and APRIL to convert Bukit Tigapuluh forests to acacia

EoF News / 26 March 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)-- Bukit Tigapuluh block forest inevitably will be dominated by acacia planted forest soon as the Ministry of Forestry allowed two giant pulp companies to convert around 138,000-hectare natural forest into pulpwood plantation.

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) through PT Mapala Rabda will convert 61,588-hectare forest in former concession of PT SWS in Riau province, while its competitor, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) through its subsidiary PT Foresta Sentosa Raya grabbed 76,544- ha forest formerly belonged to PT IFA in Jambi.

The Ministry of Forestry issued a decree number S.117/VI-BRPHP/2007 dated 16 February 2007 announcing the results of winners of timber plantation auction nationally on its website on 26 February. In Riau, APP also won the auction for holding a 45,912-ha concession of forest in Bengkalis district of Riau on behalf of its partner, PT Bangun Bumi Lestari.

Both PT IFA and PT SWS forest concessions totalling 254,000 ha in Bukit Tigapuluh revoked by the government and the 138,000-ha natural forest finally 'sold' by the government through the auction.

Eyes on the Forest coalition issued a press release on 30 January 2007 calling on the government not to continue the action as Bukit Tigapuluh forest block is one of only two Tiger Conservation Global Priority Landscapes (after Kerinci Seblat National Park) in Indonesia as well as one of only two remaining key habitats of Sumatra elephants in Central Sumatra (next to Tesso Nilo).

The livelihoods of thousands of indigenous peoples of Talang Mamak and Malay (Riau) as well as Anak Dalam (Jambi) entirely depend upon these forests as a legacy from their predecessors. The Bukit Tigapuluh forest is one of the largest forest blocks remaining in Riau with 413,000 ha of contiguous natural forest in two provinces Riau and Jambi (Landsat image October 2006).

In another development, Head of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Moh. Haryono, said last weekend that forest conversion in the landscape to acacia planted forest would likely affect to the protected area, but the threat will be reduced by creation of buffer zone surrounding the landscape, Riau Terkini website reported.

Existing and would-be acacia and oil palm plantations threaten ecosystem of Bukit Tigapuluh landscape despite the expansion plan for its national park to 230,223 ha from 144,223 ha is approaching. 

*Crash Image*