November 28, 2018

HCV signboards in pulpwood concession go missing

(foresthints.news) - Two signboards constructed inside an APP pulpwood concession (PT KSP) in West Kalimantan’s Kubu Raya regency, marking high conservation value (HCV) areas, have been torn down. 

The signboards were removed after evidence of illegal peat forest clearing in this supposed conservation block came to light as a result of a recent investigation by Indonesian forestry authorities.

This illegal clearing specifically refers to the clearing of good peat forest cover, which forms a habitat for the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan, for the expansion of palm oil plantations, a practice that has been underway since the early months of 2017.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Oct 3), the exploitation of HCV areas in this APP concession was shown to be continuing, with the area’s Bornean orangutan-inhabited peat forests being cleared, drained and planted with oil palms. 

The Indonesian Environment and Foresty Ministry took law enforcement measures on the ground (Oct 8) in this case, catching the operators of excavators in the location red-handed, as also reported by foresthints.news (Oct 22).

In the wake of the aforementioned official investigation, the foresthints.news team (Nov 24) observed that the two HCV signboards in the PT KSP pulpwood concession have been removed by an unknown party.

The following two photos (Nov 24) show the remains of one of the two HCV signboards in the APP concession after it was torn apart, leaving just a narrow strip of the original signboard.

No reporting since early 2017

According to APP’s progress reporting tool, the HCV areas in the PT KSP concession concerned were evaluated as such by PT Ekologika Consultants in an assessment report. Despite this, unfortunately, since early last year parts of these designated HCV areas have been persistently cleared and drained.

The two photos below show the other now missing HCV signboard. The two signboards in the PT KSP concession stood about 1 km apart.

The fact that there has been no reporting on the clearing of these HCV areas by any parties engaged with APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) raises a huge question considering that evidence of this practice being carried out since early 2017 exists. 

Legally, the HCV areas designated in the abovementioned HCV assessment report were converted into a local community development block by PT KSP in November last year. 

This change, however, was never announced on the FCP monitoring website of APP, one of the members of The Forest Trust (TFT).  

The latest Planet Explorer images below confirm that illegal HCV forest clearing in the PT KSP concession is still happening for the purpose of expanding existing palm oil plantations, in spite of the law enforcement actions being taken by the ministry.

West Kalimantan is one of the peat restoration priority provinces designated by President Joko Widodo in early January 2016. However, peat forest clearing - both legal and illegal - continues to occur in this province.

The latest example of this is the ongoing draining of peat forests by a palm oil company which supplies Nestlé as well as other TFT members, as reported by foresthints.news (Nov 26). This palm oil concession is situated very close to the PT KSP pulpwood concession.