A new report from Indonesian NGO Greenomics challenges APP’s statements about its “sustainable and environmentally conscious” operations.
The report, “Time for Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) to Come Clean to Stakeholders on its Indonesian Operations,” (pdf file 341.8 KB) is in response to an APP statement released on 1 August 2010, in which the company stated that:
“Since 1996, APP’s pulpwood suppliers have been developing degraded and low conservation-value areas, legally designated by the Government of Indonesia for pulpwood plantations to support the country’s sustainable development. Much of pulpwood suppliers’ concession areas are denuded wasteland and community-based forest plantations. APP would not accept its pulpwood suppliers to cut high conservation value forest as defined by the Government of Indonesia.”
In an open letter to APP stakeholders, Greenomics explains that it has has “examined the veracity of this ‘fact’ having regard to APP’s pulpwood sources, the clearing of natural forest, and the connection between these activities and climate change.”
The real facts, Greenomics notes in its report, are as follows:
The bulk of the raw materials for APP Indonesia’s pulp mills since 1996 have not be sourced from pulpwood plantations established on denuded wasteland, or degraded and low conservation-value areas, as claimed by APP in its 1 August 2010 report, but rather from natural forest cleared to make way for pulpwood plantations. In a 1996 feasibility study prepared by one of APP’s first pulpwood supplier firms, PT Arara Abadi, it was stated that the latter’s 299,975-hectare concession consisted of 178,019 hectares of productive forest, meaning that it actually consisted of relatively intact natural forest.
This feasibility study also stated that the timber produced by the clearing of the productive natural forest would be used as raw material for the production of pulp, and to fuel the boilers of APP’s pulp and paper mill.
What was done by PT Arara Abadi was also done by other APP’s pulpwood suppliers. Greenomics Indonesia data shows that between 2003 and 2007, APP’s pulpwood suppliers cleared at least 329,000 hectares of natural forest, producing a
minimum of 36.5 million m3 of timber – the bulk of which was used as feedstock by APP Indonesia’s pulp and paper mills.
This reality is backed by a report by the Indonesian State Audit Board/BPK RI (published on 23 February 2009) on the development and operation of pulpwood plantations between 2002 and 2008 in Riau Province, where the majority of APP’s pulpwood suppliers and one of its biggest pulp mills are located.
This report found that 19 concessions were granted for pulpwood plantations in Riau Province in forested areas having a natural-forest wood potential of between 43.12 m3 and 187.64 m3 per hectare. As part of the pulpwood plantation development process, these areas were earmarked for clearance. In fact, the BPK audit report found that the Riau Provincial Forestry Agency approved Annual Work Plans for the clearing of 257,497 hectares of natural forest.
Apart form this BPK audit report, Greenomics Indonesia can back its arguments with conclusive evidence in the form of comprehensive time-series satellite images that clearly show how the raw material needs of APP Indonesia’s pulp and paper mills were satisfied using timber sourced from natural forests.
Thus, it is clear that APP’s pulpwood suppliers have been involved on a very significant scale in the clearance of productive natural forest to supply raw materials to APP Indonesia’s pulp and paper mills.
Accordingly, APP Indonesia needs to come clean and stop trying to blur or conceal the real facts about its pulpwood operations in Indonesia, while APP stakeholders should treat the BPK audit report as a reliable yardstick for judging just how honest the company’s depiction really is.