APRIL’s 2.6 million-ton production capacity expansion is rampant; betrays its sustainability commitment, harms environment and community

EoF Press Release / 01 May 2021
Forest fires in a supplier of APRIL/RGE in Riau

Pekanbaru, 1 May 2021--Eyes on the Forest (EoF) coalition condemns environmental permit granted to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) group to expand pulp production capacity of Riau Complex PT RAPP and urged the Government for banning natural forest clearing by the company in their attempt to obtain mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) for their operation.

The production capacity  expansion by APRIL/RGE group it is believed to threaten community safety, forest, and environment. Activities to expand Riau Complex comprising increasing production capacity for pulp and dissolving mills by 5.8 million tons per year, board paper production at capacity of 2,88 million tons per year.

EoF considers that APRIL group has no competence to fulfill existing production capacity sustainably and they do not respect rights of adat customary law and local communities. “APRIL with its installed capacity alone has yet to fulfill industrial climate properly where natural forest clearing still occurs, as well as forest-land fires and conflicts with adat community and local community which still on fire,” Nursamsu, EoF coordinator, said. 

With fantastic new capacity rate, by 86%, it is believed that brand new problems will appear. Starting from natural forest clearing potentially, ecosystem degradation,  which create land conflict, to threats posed people’s health, in Riau Complex particularly and Pelalawan generally.   

Even in Analysis to environmental impact document obtained by Riau Environment and Forestry on 23 November 2021, said that  APRIL activity’s expansion will create impacts such noise increases, terrestrial flora are disrupted, worsening groundwater, worsening ambient air quality due to gas emission from chimneys, water quality and its impact to aquatic biota, health problems and community’s perception.   

As estimated by EoF, to fulfill the expansion of 2,650,000 tons/year of pulp and pulp dissolving products will create new forest clearing in size of 120,000 hectares. The size of forest is quite fantastic. “This is a real threat to our natural forest. Amid increasing natural disasters occur due to forest degradation, such as floods and forest-land fires, obviously natural forest clearing will deteriorate climate change and damage environment, including peat forest,” said Nursamsu.  

APRIL also has not satisfying performance in implementing Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP 2.0) consistently and sustainably, hence lines of broken promises and failure in implementing its sustainable commitment will be increasingly gloomy to track record of this group.  

Riko Kurniawan, Director of WALHI Riau, blasted environmental licensing which does not respect community’s rights to obtain a healthy environment. “Riau Governor and Head of Environment and Forestry Service should have thought impacts that will suffer by surrounding community due to environmental licensing granted to APRIL group.”

In addition to this, issuance of the environmenal permit itself does not consider problems emerge. In document of ANDAL (analysis on environmental impact) said that by this existing PT RAPP’s Riau Complex production there is 20,83% residents that impacted to diseases and 36% of community rejected the plan to expand the production capacity.  

The Governor and Head of EF Service missed this reality. “Mr Governor and Head of EF Service should have ordered RAPP to settle problems arising currently,” said Riko Kurniawan. “Before they are really deserved to grant the environmental permit.”  

Riko Kurniawan added, “The substance is, permit for investment should not have cluttered with community’s rights on healty environment. This is against Constitution 1945.” In article 28 H paragraph 1 UUD NRI (Constitution) year 1945 states, "Every person has the right to live in physical and spiritual prosperity, to have a place to live, and to have a good and healthy living environment and the right to obtain health services."

Made Ali, Jikalahari’s Coordinator, highlights APRIL business expanding RAPP mills production capacity massively. It is against the commitment of sustainable forest management policy that for years boasted by the group owned by Sukanto Tanoto, including APRIL 2030 commitment that launched in the end of last year.

“APRIL business expanding production capacity has confirmed that their corporate sustainable commitment is just imposture to do their business as usual, but they don’t improve their operation by clearing natural forest and grab adat community’s rights,” said Made.

Not only production capacity expansion for APRIL’s Riau Complex PT RAPP, as Jikalahari found a fact on the ground that totally different from promisess made by APRIL. While, the APRIL 2030 Commitment plans to yield sustainable investment in climate, nature and development, which is impossible to make it as long as APRIL does not return forest and land of adat and local communities they grab.


It is also impossible APRIL to reach clean zero carbon emission from land use as long as the company still plant and clear acacia or eucalyptus on peatland. Moreover, the 86% production capacity expansion plan will deteriorate such a condition.


Public inevitably question of sources of APRIL raw material to fulfill their needs and to expand HTI production by closing a gap of 3.6 million tons of wood.  Public also ask where APRIL buys 2.7 million tons of wood domestically from as well as  how to buy 2.3 millions tons from oversea source.  It is time for APRIL to be transparent explaining origins of their raw material and Government as regulator must play the rule of games consistently.  


"Issuing license intransparently and ignore victims remind us of corruption cases involving District Heads, Heads of Forestry Service and Governors,” said Made Ali.  Their pattern for corruption practice are identical which started from instranparent licensing.”


EoF suspect the pulp production capacity expansion will cause rampant land clearing in Sumatra and threaten forests in Kalimantan and Papua. One of potencies for PT RAPP suppliers coming from Social Forestry program that promoted currently by the Goverment.


Recommendation to APRIL and RGE

  1. Announce transparently plan to fulfill credible, long-time wood raw material and verifiable to show that APRIL has fiber of forest plantation that sufficient which in line with its plan to expand pulp production.
  2. Share information to public broadly on risks potentially to influence productivity and sustainability on its forest plantation resources.  
  3. APRIL must be responsible to implement a plan to halt pulwood production that planted on drained peatland. Instead, they must plant various vegetations gradually.

Recommendation to the Indonesian Government  

  1. Order APRIL to describe ability to fulfill raw material to reach planned pulp production capacity and to verify  plan to fulfilling wood supply with long-term perspective before issuing approval to increase pulp production.   
  2. Banning use of mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) from natural forest clearing by pulp producers
  3. Imposing permanent prohibition to industrial timber plantation (HTI) development on drained peatland, including suspension and restructuring all existing sites gradually; and ask HTI license holders to be accountable legally for creating condition of high-prone forest and peat fires as well as other environmental hazards.

Recommendations to Financial agencies, Investors and Buyers  

  1. Enhance supervision against APRIL sustainable commitmen implementation, particularly as APRIL proposes to expand pulp production capacity by 5.8 millions tons.
  2. Strengthen practice of due diligence to assess plan of APRIL wood raw material, and understand risks and impacts to social/environment that related to HTI development in attempts to fulfilling needs of raw material in increasing pulp production     
  3. Require monitoring and verifying on APRIL sustainability commitment operation that commissioned to independent third party.