Threat of conversion of HCVF areas in APRIL supply chains

(foresthints.news) - In the wake of the revelation (Oct 2015) that PT RAPP, a company owned by pulp and paper giant APRIL, cleared legally-designated high conservation value forest (HCVF) areas two years ago, an appeal has been made for the operations of this Singapore-based company to be closely monitored.

The clearing of these legally-designated HCVF areas by the APRIL company took place from mid-June to early July 2015, despite the fact that APRIL’s sustainability policy had been launched prior to these actions, in early June of the same year.

Parts of the 250,000 hectares of APRIL’s HCVF areas not only consist of peatlands, but are also mineral soil. In fact, the clearing of legally-designated HCVF areas undertaken by the APRIL company in June and July 2015 was done in forests with mineral soil.

This not only constituted a violation of Indonesian forestry regulations, but also contravened APRIL’s own sustainability policy.

The timing of the illegal forest clearing indicates that it didn’t take long for APRIL to break its sustainability policy.

A study - supported by logistical and field assistance from APRIL - demonstrated that APRIL’s HCVF areas, which are made up of remnant forests distributed among its supply chains in Sumatra Riau’s province, are still actually beneficial as a habitat for critically endangered species, in this case the Sumatran tiger.

“The legally-designated HCVF areas in APRIL supply chains need to be closely monitored so as to avoid any repetition of illegal practices in the form of forest clearing of those HCVF areas,” urged Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia (May 22).

The following two photos show legally-designated HCVF areas spread among APRIL’s pulpwood plantations.

HCVF areas at risk of change

Considering that a proposal was previously made for the legally-designated HCVF areas in APRIL’s pulpwood concessions to be turned into acacia plantation blocks - which was rejected by the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry - Greenomics is calling on all relevant stakeholders to pay close attention to any attempt to revive this move.

“We need to anticipate that the APRIL company and its long-term suppliers may seek to change legally-designated HCVF areas into acacia plantation blocks through the revision of their 10-year work plans,” Vanda cautioned.

The following photos depict legally-designated HCVF areas with mineral soil located in APRIL’s supply chains which are at risk of being turned into acacia plantation blocks.

Greenomics also pointed out that the APRIL company had made a promise to the ministry to rehabilitate the portions of legally-designated HCVF areas it had previously cleared.

“Of course we have to monitor to what extent this rehabilitation has been carried out by the APRIL company, given that their promise to the ministry has a legal basis, in the shape of an official letter, and was not merely an ordinary promise,” Vanda asserted.

Monitoring needed

Greenomics has come to the conclusion that APRIL, through its sustainability policy, will use its reassessment of the existing legally-designated HCVF areas found in its supply chains as a basis to convert significant parts of them into acacia plantation blocks.

“APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee must monitor this,” Vanda warned.

On several occasions, APRIL has consistently told foresthints.news that it remains committed to implementing its sustainability policy and adhering to Indonesia’s laws and regulations.

However, the peat violations perpetrated by the pulp giant’s company - PT RAPP - last year in its concessions on Pulau Padang and in the Kampar Peninsula landscape deservedly call into question the substance of the commitment expressed by APRIL.