Stops forest conversion in its concession in Libo Forest Block

EoF News / 13 April 2006

In the Report, Eyes on the Forest called PT. Bina Daya Bintara/APRIL to immediately stop controversial logging operations to prevent further conversion of potential elephant habitat, further disturbance that may be contributing to driving elephants out of Libo Forest Block to cause frequent human elephant conflicts in the area, legally questionable clearing of forest in peat deeper than 3m, clearing of forest designated as Protection Forest in the currently active Provincial Land Use Plan and possible lack of approval by Ministry of Forestry of locally issued conversion license. Eyes on the Forest also called APP to not receive wood originating from this operation.

EoF sent the final draft report to both APP and APRIL for their comments on the findings.

APP did not reply.

Jouko Virta, President of APRIL Global Fibre Supply sent the following reply: “Thank you for forwarding the EoF investigative reports on APRIL operations in the Libo Block. APRIL has operated the ca. 6100 ha Bina Daya Bintara concession since mid 2005. The concession is 100 % on peatland. As agreed in the draft of the MOU to be signed between APRIL and WWF, APRIL conducted an HCV assessment of the concession in late 2005 and delineated the HCVF’s needed to protect the identified values. The HCVF team did not find any signs of elephants within the concession boundaries and concluded that peat area is not suitable as elephant habitat.

“Through the recent WWF publications we have understood with great concern the escalation of human-elephant conflict and even deaths of humans and elephants that has been unfolding over the past few years. As a precautionary measure we have made a corporate decision to immediately halt logging in Bina Daya until a better understanding is established on the impact of our operations on elephant habitat and the escalation of human elephant conflict.

“APRIL will do everything necessary to not contribute to elephant displacement or death or destruction of human life or property. We are committed to work with WWF and Government and are supporting the expansion of Tesso Nilo national park to provide among others better shelter for elephants and the development of a protective acacia belt to avoid the human elephant conflict in the area. All of APRIL’s plantation development will fully address the elephant conservation issues raised in the upcoming analysis and strategy development. Let us get to work on this as expediently as possible.”

EoF thanks APRIL for this very fast reaction to a dramatic situation and hopes that Government and other companies will react as fast also to save Riau’s elephant habitat. EoF is very concerned to not have received any comment by Asia Pulp & Paper on their conversion of potential elephant habitat in several locations of Libo Block. Information on the elephant situation in Riau can be found on EoF’s Interactive Map on “Elephants” and at “Riau’s Elephant: The 2006 Tragedy” on WWF’s web site.