Authorities send forceful warning letters to two APRIL suppliers 

(foresthints.news) - Indonesian authorities have not only taken firm action against Singapore-based pulp and paper giant APRIL, but also against two of its long-term acacia suppliers, by issuing them with a serious warning letter due to their non-compliance in revising their 10-year work plans in accordance with Indonesia’s new peat regulations.

The two pulpwood concessions concerned are PT Peranap Timber (formerly PT Uniseraya) and PT Essa Indah Timber (formerly PT Triomas FDI). Both of these concessions are joint operations under the APRIL group located in Sumatra's Riau Kampar Peninsula landscape.

These two pulpwood companies changed their names in order to disassociate themselves from two other palm oil companies under the same names, after the release of a report which linked APRIL’s supply chains with these two companies - both of which were caught red-handed clearing peat forest in early November 2015. These two palm oil concessions are also located in the Kampar Peninsula landscape.

This first warning letter from the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry to these two long-term APRIL suppliers was signed by the Ministry’s Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono (Oct 12) on behalf of Minister Siti Nurbaya.

“We at the ministry continue to make sure that pulpwood and palm oil companies, including APRIL and its suppliers, have legally-approved peat recovery plans in place. Those companies which fail to comply will of course have strong and measurable sanctions imposed on them,” explained Bambang (Oct 16). 

The USGS satellite images below provided by the ministry show that the two APRIL suppliers continue to operate using business-as-usual practices - without having any peat recovery measures in place, as stipulated by the newly-revised government regulation on peat protection and management signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year. 

Clear threat of sanctions

The warning letters contain a threat of legal sanctions against the two long-term APRIL suppliers if they continue to demonstrate a lack of compliance.

For example, if by the deadline set (Oct 27), they have yet to submit their revised 10-year work plans (2017-2026), which must include a peat recovery plan, then their existing work plans (2009-2018) may not be used an as operational reference in the field.  

The operations of pulpwood companies have to be based on a 10-year work plan, and if the existing work plans of the two long-term APRIL suppliers can no longer be referred to as a legal basis for field operations and they have no new work plans approved, they may be classified as operating illegally.

Going beyond legal compliance?

One part of the peat recovery plans that must be submitted by APRIL and its long-term suppliers to the ministry pertains to determining the distribution of points of compliance for a 40cm peat water table.

“If no peat recovery plans are submitted, then no basis exists for testing to what extent APRIL and its long-term suppliers are legally compliant with peat water table management,” the Ministry’s secretary general pointed out.

He reaffirmed that there is no way the ministry will let companies, including APRIL and its suppliers, operate without having a peat recovery plan.

“We are acting on the signature President Joko Widodo put on the newly-revised government regulation,” he asserted.

In its latest IPEWG update (Oct 6), APRIL itself actually established three water table targets, with depths of 40, 60 and 80cm, without having a peat recovery plan approved by the ministry.

If APRIL and its long-term suppliers continue to show an attitude of reluctance when it comes to complying with Indonesian peat regulations, this basically represents a blatant breach of its own Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2.0.

In the APRIL’s group Sustainable Forest Management Policy, it is clearly written that “APRIL goes beyond legal compliance toward achieving sustainable forest management”. What’s more, as part of its policy, the company states that “APRIL reaffirms its commitment to comply with all prevailing laws and regulations, and requires all its suppliers to do so.”

By the time this news was released, not a single peat recovery plan referring to the new peat regulations, either from APRIL or its long-term suppliers, had been approved by the ministry. 

In contrast, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Oct 1), four major APP pulpwood companies have had their 10-year work plans, including peat recovery plans, approved by the ministry.