Pages tagged "riau"

APRIL Makes A Mockery Of Its Own "Sustainable" Forest Policy


Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.

Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.

APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.

There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.

APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.

TAKE ACTION: Tell APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto to stop pulping Pulau Padang’s rainforests.

Sumatra hunger strike: the last recourse for a forest community

Here in Riau, Indonesia, signs of the struggle to save the last of Sumatra's forest is everywhere. Daily, the papers cover stories of timber and oil palm companies destroying forests, engaging in corruption, driving land conflicts, sponsoring violence, and marginalizing indigenous peoples. Today, on the way to a meeting with the local NGO Elang, I passed villagers from the Kampar Peninsula, a carbon-rich and biodiverse ecoystem that is under attack by Sinar Mas' oil palm operations and their timber division Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), on a hunger strike. Hunger StrikeFlag reads: The Poor Indonesian Union_MG_7340 In front of the provincial parliament building, a group of men and women from the village of Kijang Kejo have set up a plastic tarp and banner, announcing to Riau's elected officials that they will not eat until the oil palm plantation PT Arindo Tri Sejahtera, who stole their land and then paid thugs to kill three of their family members, is brought to justice. 10 days into their hunger strike, the villagers are pale and weak, sleeping while motor bikes and buses fly by them on the road. They told me they have not been able to meet with any members of the provincial government, and were not sure how much longer they could last without food. The group that owns this particular plantation, Surya Dumai, might be on the nastier end of the scale of dirty, dangerous, and destructive oil palm and timber companies, but this is how the resource extraction game is played here in Riau, Sumatra; buy the military, government, and media and trample any local people that dare to stand up for their rights. APP and Sinar Mas have been shown to violate Indonesian law and human rights, but with the authorities in their pocket, it is us, the consumers of timber and palm oil, that must demand  producers respect forests and the people who inhabit them. David Gilbert is a Research Fellow at RAN. He has worked in the tropical forests of the Amazon and Indonesia, with a special focus on forest conservation and indigenous rights. He can be reached at

Letter from Indonesian community threatened by pulp-and-paper



Regarding: UPHOLDING TELUK MERANTI COMMUNITY RIGHTS To the Honourable, President Director of RAPP company (April) With this, the community of Teluk Meranti subdistrict, based on our needs to the land located across the river or land intended to become a part of your company’s operational area, declares that it: REJECTS THE PRESENCE OF THE RAPP COMPANY. This is done with regard to the below considerations:
  1. The land is to be retained for our grandchildren’s future
  2. Experiences by other surrounding villages or areas where RAPP company has operated which have impacted negatively on the local community’s rights
  3. It has caused loss of agricultural and horticultural land belonging to the community
  4. The community will lose the source of its livelihood (economic, social and cultural) from the forest which will be converted to an industrial timber plantation
We, the community of Teluk Meranti, have inhabited and utilised this area in a wise and traditional way far preceeding Indonesia’s independence. Thus concludes this rejection letter, made with great consideration so that unwanted problems will be avoided in the future. Respectfully yours, The community of Teluk Meranti

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