Pulp and paper industry warned away from community plantation forest program

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The Secretary General of Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, Bambang Hendroyono, has said that the community plantation forest program is in no way intended to meet the shortfall in plantation fiber for pulp and paper mills.

Bambang reiterated that the program is instead expected to support community-based timber industries as part of efforts to improve the level of community welfare.

The community plantation forest program is clearly not geared towards acacia plants. The program was not set up to support the pulp and paper industry. We want to promote and strengthen community-based timber industries, Bambang told
foresthints.news on Friday (Mar 18) in Jakarta.

Bambang stated emphatically that in the event acacia plants to be used as fiber for feeding pulp and paper mills are found in community plantation forest areas, his ministry would take decisive action, at the very least imposing sanctions on the companies involved in working with communities in acacia planting.

The pulp and paper industry shouldnt even consider trying to take advantage of the community plantation forest program to expand its acacia plantations, the Secretary General warned.

According to Bambang, the community plantation forest will be one his ministrys most prioritized programs until 2019.

The community plantation forest program serves as a means of providing legal access for communities to develop plantation forests as part of the strengthening of community-based upstream timber industries. If acacia is planted again, it means that we are actually sowing the seeds of social conflicts in community plantation forest areas, Bambang cautioned.

He stressed that an influx of investment from the pulp and paper industry to community plantation forest areas should not be allowed to happen. Ultimately, this would only end up producing acacia plantations in community plantation forest areas to serve as a source of fiber for the pulp and paper industry.

The pulp and paper industry must not try to go in and take control of community plantation forest areas. This is non-negotiable. Ministerial regulations prohibiting this will be formulated. We guarantee that the government will be present to oversee the success of the community plantation forest program, Bambang continued.

Bambangs strong words were largely in response to an announcement made by Asia Pulp and paper (APP) at an event marking the third anniversary of the implementation of its Forest Conservation Policy in early February, to the effect that one of the three options for APP to derive fiber for feeding its new pulp mill in South Sumatra would be through collaborating with community forestry concessions.

This issue touches on one of the main concerns of international and local civil society groups; namely that APP has insufficient plantation fiber to feed its new OKI mill which is to begin operating in the final months of this year.