APRIL company’s newly-emerged work plan surprises NGOs but faces threat of cancellation

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Following several demands that APRIL-owned pulpwood company, PT RAPP, revise its 2013 work plan, it turns out, surprisingly, that the company did revise its work plan at the end of February this year. This would mean that the peatland violations recently perpetrated by PT RAPP form part of this new work plan’s operations.

The newly-revised work plan states that APRIL’s sustainability policy has been incorporated into it. However, WWF and Greenpeace, both of which are members of the APRIL-established Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), appeared to be unaware of the existence of the new work plan.

“We can’t make a comment yet as we don’t know about this revised work plan,” said Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner Rusmadya Maharuddin in a written response to a question from foresthints.news on Sunday (Sep 25).

It’s not just Greenpeace that have been kept in the dark. WWF also claims to know nothing about PT RAPP’s new work plan.

“We don’t know about the new work plan, nor were we consulted by APRIL on this matter. We will ask them for this new work plan immediately,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader of WWF Indonesia, in a response to a question from foresthints.news on Monday (Sep 26).

As previously reported, WWF and Greenpeace, in their capacity as SAC members, had requested PT RAPP to revise its 10-year work plan following peatland violations committed by it on Riau's Pulau Padang in Sumatra, which were uncovered during a first-hand inspection by Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency Chief Nazir Foead (Sep 5).

Now, it turns out, the APRIL company has had a new work plan all along which neither Greenpeace nor WWF knew anything about.

Business as usual practices continue

In the meantime, Jikalahari, a CSO alliance group based in Riau, has declared that the substance of PT RAPP’s new work plan really deserves to be questioned given the company’s claim that APRIL's sustainability policy has been incorporated into this work plan and the fact that it has continued to commit peatland violations.

“Where is the evidence that APRIL's sustainability policy has been incorporated into this new work plan? The evidence that we see is that APRIL is still conducting its business-as-usual practices," Woro Supartinah, Jikalahari Coordinator, told foresthints.news on Saturday (Sep 24).

Woro implored APRIL to prove that its sustainability policy was being implemented, rather than simply carrying on business-as-usual in a way that deviates hugely from the substance of its sustainability policy.

She went on to say that the peatland violations committed by PT RAPP were just one of many examples of the business-as-usual practices that shouldn’t be happening if APRIL were properly committed to implementing its sustainability policy.

An odd new work plan

A spatial analysis conducted by Greenomics Indonesia on the APRIL company’s new work plan concludes that APRIL remains afraid of suffering losses by truly incorporating its sustainability policy into the new work plan.

“The APRIL company is still allocating deep forested peatlands for the development of acacia plantations. Of course this is strange because it is not in line with the 2015 Environment and Forestry Minister’s regulation as well as APRIL's own sustainability policy," Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia, told foresthints.news on Monday (Sep 26) after reporting incongruencies in the legal substance of the work plan to the ministry.

“Based on the 2015 ministerial regulation, forested areas in pulpwood concessions must be designated as protection areas, even more so if these forested areas are located in deep peatlands. So why does APRIL continue to allocate deep forested peatlands for the development of acacia plantations?"

Vanda also condemned PT RAPP for replacing some of its community livelihood plantation blocks with acacia plantations.

“In fact, a lot of our other findings show that the APRIL company’s new work plan is still legally flawed, including by not living up to the substance of APRIL's sustainability policy,” Vanda explained.

In response to a number of substantial questions put to APRIL by foresthints.news, a company spokesperson said that the process of compiling the PT RAPP work plan had been done in line with the appropriate procedures. APRIL failed to answer a question from foresthints.news about whether Greenpeace and WWF, as SAC members, knew of and had been consulted about the substance of the new work plan.

Meanwhile, the Director General of Sustainable Production Forest Management at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Dr Putera Parthama, said that his ministry was undertaking a verification process on the APRIL company’s new work plan.

“If there are proven to be deviations in the legal substance of this work plan, it will be immediately cancelled. A decision based on the outcome of our verification process will be forthcoming no later than next week,” he told foresthints.news on Monday (Sep 26).