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
Recommendation to the Indonesian Government
Recommendations to Financial agencies, Investors and Buyers