During 2007, Indonesian police clamped down on illegal logging. As a result, the Indonesia Pulp and Paper Association says, pulp production in 2008 may be forced to decrease by 75 per cent – giving a good indication of exactly how much the industry relies on illegal logging.
Pulp production in Indonesia expanded dramatically in the last decade, peaking at 5.6 million tons in 2006. During 2007, pulp production fell to 5.2 million tons (80 per cent of capacity), because the largest pulp mills could not get enough raw material when the police prevented them from using illegal timber.
“The next few years appear very uncertain for this industry”, say forest industry analysts Wood Resources International. APP and APRIL are planning to increase pulp capacity by almost one million tons over the next two years. Meanwhile United Fiber Systems is planning a new 600,000 tons per year pulp mill in Kalimantan. Another pulp mill in Kalimantan, Kiani Kertas is currently lying idle after UFS’s long running, and so far unsuccessful, takeover attempt. In March 2008, International Paper announced plans for a US$4 billion investment in Indonesia, including 500,000 hectares of plantations and a 1.5 million tons per year pulp mill.
Wood Resources International states that “The wood fiber sourcing for the expanding industry is problematic”. This is an understatement – CIFOR and others have been pointing this out for several years. A recent report by WWF “found that in central Sumatra’s Riau Province nearly 10.5 million acres of tropical forests and peat swamp have been cleared in the last 25 years”. The main culprits behind this destruction are APP and APRIL.