APRIL, APP told to phase out drained plantations in rich-peat Kampar Peninsula

EoF News / 15 December 2015
Forest conversion in an APRIL’s timber supplier in Kampar Peninsula, where the photo is taken from helicopter flyover. Photo ©Eyes on the Forest, May 2012

A new report by Deltares commissioned by Wetlands International conclude that plantations in Kampar Peninsula, Riau province, are not sustainable and economically unviable due to subsidence, drainage and flood problems. Hence, APRIL and APP should phase out their pulpwood plantations from the rich peat Kampar Peninsula, Wetlands said in a press release last week.

“By 2014, 31% of the existing plantation area (including 5% of the existing pulp plantations) on the Kampar Peninsula already suffered from regular flooding and drainage problems. It is projected that within 25, 50 and 100 years, this will increase to 71%, 83% and 98% respectively, making nearly all plantations (pulp and oil palm) on the Kampar Peninsula peatland economically unviable in the middle to long term,” Wetlands explained.

Kampar Peninsula peat dome is believed as the largest single peat dome in Sumatra. Deltares uses the latest remote sensing techniques and scientific understanding of lowland peatland response to drainage.

The report emphasizes that water management techniques including APRIL’s ‘eco-hidro’ peatland management model can only reduce the rate of subsidence and by not much more than 20%.

Wetlands said that most companies in Kampar Peninsula have no-fire policies as 99% of the numerous fire hotspots that occurred on the area over the last 15 years were in plantation areas. “This clearly shows that even the largest companies have not been able to prevent or control fires,” the release said.

Jikalahari’s coordinator, Woro Supartinah, hailed this report and urged APRIL and APP to show their sustainable commitments by retiring their plantations in degraded Kampar Peninsula. “We also call on the Government to protect Kampar Peninsula peat forest by stopping deforestation and unsustainable development as the report recommends.”

The Deltares research that commissioned by Wetlands International has covered an area of 674,200 hectares. By 2014, almost half of the area (43 %) was converted to plantations, predominantly (71.7 %) to Acacia plantations for the pulp and paper industry. The plantations also threaten biodiversity, including a population of the endangered Sumatran Tiger and cause the release of vast amounts of carbon emissions as a result of peat drainage, the release said.

Indonesian civil society organizations --including Jikalahari, WWF-Indonesia and Wetlands-- have released a Roadmap towards sustainable peatlands management for the Indonesian pulp industry.