Pulp & paper industry not to lack fiber supply in next five years

(foresthints.news) - With regard to the implementation of peat governance involving pulpwood concessions, the Indonesian government continues to express clear concerns about maintaining business continuity in the form of fiber supply availability for the pulp and paper industry.

More than 900,000 hectares of pulpwood concessions - over 12 times the size of Singapore - were designated as peat protection zones by Environment and Forestry Ministry Siti Nurbaya in February this year because these areas constitute peat domes.

For this reason, by means of a ministerial regulation enacted in early July, the government is attempting to maintain fiber supply continuity in three ways; by resolving conflict areas, by implementing a community timber plantation scheme, and by facilitating land swaps.

“However, within the next five years, the Indonesian pulp and paper industry will not endure a fiber supply shortage as harvesting in acacia-planted peat domes is still allowed,” Dr Bambang Hendroyono, the Ministry’s Secretary General, explained at a press briefing on the ministerial regulation at the ministry building (Jul 13).

“What is prohibited is replanting in peat domes in which the acacia has already been harvested,” he added.

President Joko Widodo has repeatedly ordered his administration to place great importance on the protection and recovery of peat dome ecology, and to treat this as a common priority. This is because the peat fires that take place in peat domes are very difficult to extinguish, as was emphasized in a cabinet meeting held at the end of April this year.

The following photos indicate acacia plantations which have been designated by the government as peat protection zones. Once the acacia in these plantations has been harvested, any further acacia replanting is not legally permitted.

Last resort

With respect to the granting of land swaps in phases to pulpwood companies with mineral lands to compensate them for the peat domes in their concessions which have been designated as peat protection zones, the secretary general pointed out that this would be the last option, not the first.

“The resolution of conflicts in their concessions which are spread among mineral lands and the acceleration of a community timber plantation scheme through social forestry programs are the priorities. Land swaps would be the last resort,” he asserted.

Bambang described how a land swap facility would be given to those pulpwood companies which have had 40% or more of their concessions designated as peat protection zones.

He elaborated, saying that for a proposed land swap of up to 10,000 hectares, within a year of no planting taking place, the land swap would be immediately cancelled.

Meanwhile, a proposed land swap of up to 45,000 hectares, continued Bambang, would be carried out in three stages of 15,000 hectares each. If there is no planting in the first year, the 45,000 hectare land swap would be completely cancelled.

“There won’t be any land banks because the greatest source of land swaps are existing inactive pulpwood concessions situated in mineral lands which to date have served as the land banks of various companies,” he explained.

Bambang said that all pulpwood companies have to complete the legal finalization of their revised 10-year work plans by the end of this July.

“The completion of the work plans is a main priority. Without the revision of the work plans, pulpwood companies are not allowed to propose the three government facilities in question, such as land swaps. Peat protection zones must also be designated as protection zones in their revised work plans,” the secretary general reaffirmed.