Acacia removed in Kampar Peninsula after inaction by pulp giant

(foresthints.news) - Three director generals from the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry have demonstrated the seriousness of law enforcement measures against peat violations by performing a symbolic removal of recently-planted acacia in a block of a concession belonging to PT RAPP, a Singapore-based APRIL company.

The new planting of acacia by the APRIL company constitutes a peat violation, as does the new development of peatlands in its concession, including the construction of many new canals.

The APRIL company concession block in which the symbolic removal of the acacia took place is located in the Kampar Peninsula landscape, in Sumatra’s Riau province. The following video shows the action taken by the ministry officials.

Upon arriving in the peat violation area to perform their symbolic gesture, the three director generals were greeted by the spectacle of the APRIL company’s employees cutting down recently-planted acacia, as seen in the photos below.

At the location, representatives from the APRIL company told foresthints.news that they had been slashing the acacia there for the last two weeks. Indeed, evidence to support this claim could be seen at the location.

However, the ministry’s three director generals took the opportunity to point out explicitly to the director of PT RAPP, who was present at the location, that the Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya had ordered the total removal of acacia and subsequent restoration of peatland, not merely the (partial) cutting down of recently-planted acacia.

“The instructions from our minister are clear. She has demanded the removal of all recently-planted acacia and the restoration of all newly-developed peatlands,” Professor San Afri Awang, the Ministry’s Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance, affirmed at the concession location (Mar 4).

San Afri, who also serves as Chairman of Peat Restoration Monitoring at the ministry, confirmed that, on behalf of the minister, he had sent the company two ministerial letters instructing it to remove all the acacia in the peat violation areas.

“If PT RAPP had complied with the two letters from the minister, there would have been no need for us to take this law enforcement action (the removal of acacia),” he asserted at the location.

In the following photos, the three director generals can be seen carrying out the symbolic removal of recently-planted acacia in a block of the Pelalawan Estate in the APRIL company’s concession.

Karliansyah, Director General for Pollution Control and Environmental Damage Control at the ministry, used the occasion to warn PT RAPP, as well as other forestry and plantation companies, not to undertake any new peat development.

While at the removal site, Karliansyah proclaimed that the actions of companies which perpetrate peat violations were indefensible.

“Don’t even try to commit any peat violations. Also, don’t expect any tolerance from the ministry. There will be absolutely no room for compromise in this matter,” he cautioned.

Imposition of sanctions

In the meantime, the ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General Rasio “Roy” Ridho Sani, who also took part in the symbolic removal of APRIL’s recently-planted acacia, announced through a press release from the ministry (Mar 23) that the minister has already issued administrative sanctions against PT RAPP for the peat violations it has committed.

These sanctions compel the APRIL company to remove all the recently-planted acacia spread among the peat violation areas in its concession, and also require the company to restore any newly-developed peat areas.

The following photos depict the extent of the peat violation areas which were planted with acacia by the APRIL company.

Roy gave notice of the ministry’s intentions. “Sooner or later, companies that commit peat violations are unquestionably going to have sanctions imposed on them.”

“The sanctions imposed on PT RAPP should really serve as a serious lesson for all other companies. The President’s directive is clear. Law enforcement measures for the purpose of protecting peat must be consistently carried out,” he explained.

In early October last year, PT RAPP's 10-year work plan was annulled by the minister and the company’s previous work plan reinstated. This annulment happened after the company was found to be expanding its acacia blocks as part of new peat development efforts.

President Joko Widodo has continually called for consistency and firmness in enforcing the law indiscriminately and without compromise against any perpetrators of peat violations.