APP breaches its commitment to transparency, local CSO concludes

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Asia Pulp and Paper's plan to ramp up the annual production capacity of its new OKI mill from 2 million to 2.8 million tons constitutes a violation of the company’s commitment to transparency in implementing its forest conservation policy, according to a local civil society organization in South Sumatra, the province in which the new mill will begin operating in the last few months of 2016.

“This figure of 2.8 million tons per year is a new figure, but we really believe that this is something APP has planned for a long time. So, for us, APP has breached its commitment to transparency and it means that the company isn’t really interested in living up to its commitments,” Aidil Fitri, Executive Director of Hutan Kita Institute, told foresthints.news on last Monday (Mar 14) in Jakarta.

Aidil, the former executive director of South Sumatra's Friends of the Earth Indonesia, stressed that APP should have explained to the public its plan to increase the annual production capacity of the OKI mill from the outset.

He was also quick to point out the ramifications of the APP production increase.

“There is a big difference between 2 million and 2.8 million tons and it means APP will require a lot of extra fiber supply. The big question for us is how they are going to fulfill this additional fiber supply,” he said.

He underlined that even with a production capacity of just 2 million tons per year, there were deep concerns that the OKI mill would not be supplied with enough fiber that is not derived from natural forests, let alone with a raised annual production capacity of 2.8 million tons.

Aidil also brought up the matter of APP’s burned acacia plantation last year and the impact this would have had on the sufficient availability of fiber from its pulpwood plantations.

“We were already worried about their previous plan, because last year, for example, more than 80,000 hectares of their planted acacia blocks were burned which definitely would have significantly affected their fiber supply,” he explained.

For its part, the pulp and paper giant has stated that its plan to boost the mill’s annual production capacity was still in process and had not yet got the go ahead. APP also reaffirmed its commitment to implementing its zero deforestation policy, which would encompass the OKI mill operating at an annual production capacity of up to 2.8 million tons.

Other organizations have also stepped in to register their concerns. WWF, for example, had already declared its misgivings as to whether APP had enough plantation fiber to feed the OKI mill at the initial production level, and these have only intensified since the announcement of the additional annual production capacity.

Greenpeace took the opportunity to remind APP of its commitment to implementing its forest conservation policy notwithstanding its increased production capacity plan.

Meanwhile, Greenomics Indonesia shed some light on another issue facing APP, revealing that pulpwood plantation concessions linked to the company measuring nearly 400 thousand hectares - more than 5 times the size of Singapore - have had their licenses suspended by the Indonesian government in the wake of last year’s massive peat fires on these concessions.