July 24, 2018

APP draining peat protection zone ahead of Asian Games

(foresthints.news) - A pulpwood company controlled by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) operating in South Sumatra’s OKI regency, PT BMH, has once again been found to be clearing and draining a peat protection zone to make way for new acacia plantations. These operations are taking place near to the site of the upcoming Asian Games in Palembang.

The Asian Games, starting on August 18, is a prestigious event aimed at showcasing the virtues of Indonesia. APP, however, is not acting in the spirit of the games, instead ‘welcoming’ the event by deploying excavators to commit peat violations by developing new canals and draining peatlands.

Based on peat depth data assessed by the company itself and subsequently submitted to the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry, the areas being developed into new acacia plantations are in fact peatlands.

The peat areas being drained were previously allocated for acacia plantation development. However, after being designated as a peat protection zone, the APP company turned them into blocks for a forestry partnership with the local community.

Meanwhile, a recent ground-based investigation by the foresthints.news team (Jul 22) uncovered clear evidence demonstrating how excavators are draining the peat protection zone located in Ulak Kedondong village for new expansion of APP acacia plantations, as seen in the photos below (3°24'46.44"S - 105°40'28.20"E). 


This practice violates the clear ban imposed by President Joko Widodo on new peat development, which leads to peat drainage. The ban came into effect when the President signed a revised government regulation stipulating the end of new peat development in early December 2016. 

However, the APP company in question has chosen instead to disregard the ban, by continuing to clear and drain the peat protection zone. Worse still, it is perpetuating this practice even after the approval of its revised 10-year work plan.

The APP company’s revised work plan, which was approved by Indonesian forestry authorities in late September last year, clearly acknowledges the ban on new peat development. Nonetheless, APP has obviously seen fit to dismiss the ban, as depicted in the following photos (3°25'8.76"S - 105°40'30.36"E).

The locations in which peat drainage operations are being performed by APP were also designated as targeted peat restoration areas in mid-September 2016 by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG).

Making matters worse, the brazen draining of peatlands being perpetrated by APP in the peat protection zone not only constitutes a peat violation, but also clearly contravenes the company’s very own Forest Conservation Policy (FCP).

The new acacia plantations being established thus present indisputable evidence that APP has essentially ripped up its own FCP.