February 28, 2019

Peat forests being drained in APRIL-controlled supply chain

(foresthints.news) - In December last year, Singapore-based pulp and paper giant APRIL promised a revised due diligence system as part of its fiber sourcing procedures to ensure its supply chain was not linked to deforestation and peat destruction.

The company's stakeholder advisory committee (SAC), which was formed by APRIL to oversee its sustainability policy implementation, also later declared that improvements had been made to the due diligence system, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Feb 6).

However, the latest spatial evidence proves that this is not the case. In fact, peat forest clearing and draining have been taking place in peatlands which are part of the APRIL-controlled supply chain areas from at least January 2019. 

This ongoing removal of peat forests raises serious questions about the veracity of the public statements made by APRIL in December last year, and by its SAC subsequently, regarding improved due diligence in the company's supply chain system.

APRIL has acquired a reputation of repeatedly violating its own sustainability policy while offering a variety of excuses.

“Let’s see whether APRIL's claim of improved due diligence turns out to be true, especially in light of this case of ongoing peat forest draining involving part of the supply chain areas it controls,” said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia, in Jakarta (Feb 27).  

The Planet Explorer images below, which were presented by Greenomics, show continuing new clearing and drainage of peat forests in part of the APRIL-controlled supply chain areas in the Pelalawan sector of Sumatra’s Riau province.

Greenomics also confirmed, with reference to Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry land cover data (2018), that the peatlands being drained are secondary peat forests.

Furthermore, the NGO added that the peat forests in question lie in areas mapped by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) to be prioritized for restoration. 

"This case shows that APRIL's recent promise about improved due diligence in its supply chain system, which was later backed up by a statement from its SAC, is unclear in its implementation,” Vanda explained. 

APRIL’s response

APRIL was given the coordinate points of the ongoing peat forest clearing and draining by foresthints.news and, at the same time, asked for its reaction to this case. 

"After conducting a field check and overlaying the concession map and the location with the coordinates provided, we found that the area was outside the APRIL-owned concession (PT RAPP)," APRIL's spokesperson responded in writing (Feb 28).

In reaction to APRIL's response, Greenomics pointed to the APRIL-controlled supply chain map which includes the location of the ongoing peat forest clearing and draining as situated in the Pelalawan sector.

"The location is indeed not in the APRIL concession, but it is in part of the supply chain areas it controls which supply acacia to the APRIL mill, the location of which is relatively close to the PT RAPP concession.”

According to Greenomics, if APRIL does not acknowledge that the peat forest clearing and draining are happening in part of its supply chain areas, the Singapore-based company must delete the location as one of its acacia fiber sources.

As earlier reported by foresthints.news (Feb 6), APRIL did cease the sourcing of acacia fiber from one of its suppliers (PT TRH) which had been proven to be persistently engaged in the clearing of Indonesian Borneo’s high carbon stock (HCS) forests, after this destructive practice was exposed by Greenomics.