Govt takes tough line against APP’s continual exploitation of burned peatlands

(foresthints.news) - As if unaware of the existence of a regulation prohibiting land preparation and the replanting of last year’s burned peatlands in its pulpwood concessions, a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) operating in the province of South Sumatra has been shown to be conducting business-as-usual practices. This is according to a ground-check performed by Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment and Forestry.

“The ground-check showed that this APP pulpwood company continues to carry out land preparation and replanting of acacia in last year’s burned peatlands. Separately, APP is busy with its own landscape conservation. This is one of the legal factors we took into consideration in rejecting APP’s landscape conservation,” San Afri Awang, the Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance at the ministry, told foresthints.news on Friday (Nov 11).

The Director General strongly urged APP to improve its internal management so that it didn’t need to portray a dishonest image of itself to the world.

“APP must focus on improving its compliance with Indonesian laws and regulations, particularly when it comes to their operations in drained peat domes and burned peatlands across their pulpwood concessions.”

He went on to issue a warning on the case: “Exploiting burned peatlands in their concession areas is a fatal mistake in a legal sense.”

These two photos illustrate that the APP company PT BAP continues to carry out land preparation and replanting of acacia in last year’s burned peatlands.

Professor San Afri added that he deeply regretted the facts on the ground which show that APP also proceeded with land preparation operations and the replanting of acacia after they had harvested in blocks included in indicative peat domes.

“The facts on the ground have made us really disappointed with APP’s operations,” he lamented.

APP’s continuance of land preparation and the replanting of acacia in indicative peat dome blocks after harvesting is evident in these two photos.

The Director General argued that the ongoing exploitation of burned peatlands and indicative peat dome blocks after harvesting makes it seem like there were no peat restoration efforts in APP’s concessions located in one big block in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) Regency.

“Our minister is making a bold and important point here. We have already scheduled a request for a direct explanation from APP’s owners about the findings derived from our monitoring results.”

OKI regency is one of four peat restoration priority regencies designated by President Joko Widodo by means of a presidential regulation in early January this year, in response to the extensive magnitude of last year’s peat fires in this particular regency. Major parts of three APP pulpwood concessions were very seriously affected by these peat fires.