Stop selling largest remaining natural forest block in Riau and Jambi

EoF Press Release / 30 January 2007

EoF Press Release, January 30, 2007 

Riau NGO coalition calls Government to stop selling largest remaining natural forest block in Sumatra ’s Riau and Jambi: 130,000 hectares of Sumatran tiger and elephant forests under siege  

Pekanbaru, INDONESIA, 30 January 2007—Eyes on the Forest (EoF), a coalition of Riau NGOs (Jikalahari, WALHI Riau and WWF-Indonesia), today calls on the Ministry of Forestry to immediately cancel auctions of two Selective Logging concessions in Riau and Jambi provinces.   The auctions of PT SWS’ (124,000 ha, Riau) and PT IFA’s (130,000 ha, Jambi) concessions to the pulp industry will undermine the unique forests of endangered Sumatran tiger and elephant as well as indigenous peoples who rely their livelihoods upon their ancient forests.  

Within only a few days, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL) and the unknown companies potential to join APP/APRIL are expected to get licenses to convert the 130,000-ha natural forest to Industrial Timber Plantation.   Eyes on the Forest calls on international organizations interested in the plight of Riau’s and Jambi’s indigenous people and working for conservation of Sumatran tigers and elephants to join this campaign and ask the Ministry of Forestry to start protecting the country’s natural forests, instead of giving our heritage away for the benefits of a few powerful companies.  

Eyes on the Forest also calls on global buyers and investors of APP, APRIL and those who will join the two mentioned companies, who are trying to get these concessions, as well as on financial institutions who will provide credit for the expansion of their mills, to commit to only source from and finance “green companies” who do not destroy HCVFs.  

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). However, only 149,000 hectares of this forest block (26%) are protected as a National Park.

Most of the area has to be considered as landscape level High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) due to the reliance on the forests by the indigenous people, tigers and elephants.   About 60-70 elephants are estimated to live in the to-be-auctioned forests, while at least 100 tigers are believed to live in Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape, one of two largest tiger forests in Sumatra.