FSC warned to respect Indonesia’s new peat regulations

(foresthints.news) - Wetlands International-Indonesia Programme top executive Dr Nyoman Suryadiputra has warned the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to respect Indonesia’s new peat regulations in the process of ending its dissociation with paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP).

“The FSC should not end its dissociation with APP until this giant corporation complies with Indonesia’s new peat regulations, especially with regard to its operations in peatlands that have been designated as protection zones distributed among its supply chain,” Nyoman explained in a written communication with foresthints.news (May 11).

If the FSC is still adamant about granting certification to APP while several APP companies are still not in compliance (with the new peat regulations), Nyoman continued, it means that the FSC does not value the Indonesian government's policies and regulations.

“We also appeal for the FSC not to certify pulpwood plantations that continue to construct new canals,” he urged.

The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry recently revealed that more than 200km of new canals were developed by three APP pulpwood concessions in 2015-2016.

In fact, new canal development has been banned by the Indonesian government since early November 2015, but the three APP companies, which operate in a single expanse of peatlands spanning over half a million hectares in South Sumatra - one of the provinces hardest hit by 2015’s massive peat fires - have continued to open new canals.

New canal development admitted

While the three APP companies concerned acknowledged in reports that they had opened new canals the length of Bonn to Brussels, they were not the only such perpetrators.

In early March this year, top ministry officials also caught another APP company located in the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu landscape red-handed opening new canals.

Despite issuing an initial denial that it had opened new canals, a top executive from this APP company eventually admitted - after the ministry produced spatial evidence (1°29'57.81"N 101°40'1.20"E) - that the canals which the company had been caught in the act of opening were indeed new canals (May 5).

The APP company developing new canals in the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu landscape was the very first violator to be caught red-handed by government officials following up on the newly-revised government regulation on peat protection signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year.

The following photos depict the new canals built by the APP company in the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu landscape in early March 2017.

The FSC disassociated itself from APP in October 2007, citing the pulp and paper giant’s ongoing destructive forestry practices. However, after announcing its Forest Conservation Policy in early February 2013, APP made efforts to end its dissociation with the FSC.

In February 2015, for example, the Rainforest Alliance released an evaluation report on the implementation of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy, the conclusions of which included that there was no evidence indicating the presence of any new canals constructed in APP’s supply chains from early February 2013 to mid-August 2014.

Nonetheless, this report is clearly no longer up-to-date, or suitable to serve as a reference for the FSC and other relevant stakeholders, considering that from 2015-2016 to early 2017, APP’s supply chains were once again linked to new canal development practices.