10 February 2021 / EoF Investigative Report
Early September 2020, Jikalahari - a member of Eyes on the Forest (EoF) coalition - conducted an investigation and found indication of deforestation conducted by two SMG/APP suppliers: PT Ruas Utama Jaya (RUJ) and PT Suntara Gajapati (SGP).
Both are declared by SMG/APP as their “independent” suppliers, although PT. Ruas Utama Jaya was found to have a close link with the group. They likely in competition to clear-cut natural forest and expand acacia planting in peatlands for APP pulp mills. Moreover, the two concessions have been operating on vulnerable ecosystem, in deep peat and habitat of Sumatran tiger that projected by the government as area for Senepis Sumatran tiger conservation.
On 16 September 2020, EoF and media found that PT RUJ and PT SGP cleared 149 and 31 hectares of young regeneration forest, respectively in violation of SMG/APP’s FCP. EoF estimates that the young regeneration forest clearance in PT RUJ concession occurred in August 2020. The EoF team and media found several plastic containers of acacia seedlings in the deforested area, two excavators standing by in PT RUJ concession (Picture 2) and piles of harvested natural forest trees.
A field visit by EoF and media of PT SGP area on 17 September 2020 found that indication of young regeneration forest clearing reaches 308 hectares. However, the size of young forest clearing and acacia plantation extension in SGP is much bigger than EoF team found. Observation by Sentinel SWIR image of 26 August 2020, that cleared area in SGP concession reached 1,779 hectares. Sentinel SWIR image of 13 April 2020, shows that clearing in SGP had started prior to April 2020, but it is bigger than the company did in period of April-August 2020.
Analysis of land cover 2020 by WWF-Indonesia shows the area is a part of HTI industrial timber plantation extension in concession of SGP. This is shown by in some part of cleared area which is class of natural forest cover classification and not identified as class or classification of acacia plantation.
Sentinel SWIR image of July 2020 show young regeneration forest (rough texture, inhomogenous color and no peat canal) in areas which were cleared by PT RUJ and PT SGP by 26 August 2020. Peat canals developed in opened area suggest that the area is drained to develop acacia plantation. The land cover analysis in this area constitute classification of natural forest cover. Based on analysis of the two Sentinel SWIR images, EoF concludes that PT RUJ and PT SGP cleared 149 hectares and 31 hectares of natural forest by 26 August 2020.