October 17, 2019

Authorities make legal move against APP concession

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Asia Pulp and Paper's (APP Sinarmas) claim, made in its sustainability report which was signed by chairperson Linda Wijaya - that it can handle hotspots up to 5 km outside of its concession areas - has been proven inaccurate once again.

Indonesian authorities, in the form of a joint force made up of the Police and Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, have announced that they are making a legal move against an APP-controlled company (PT RML) operating in Sumatra’s Riau province due to the peat fires burning in its concession.

These peat fires are raging in a roughly 2 km radius outside of the PT RML concession area, and have even encroached into the concession itself. This completely refutes the APP chairperson’s claim that the company is able to prevent fires in its concession areas.

The following satellite images demonstrate that this claim amounts to mere words on paper and has not been realized on the ground, a fact reinforced by the burning both inside and outside of the PT RML concession.

Sumatran tiger habitat burned

In APP’s sustainability report, published in early November 2017, Mrs Wijaya wrote: “We continue to focus on orangutan, elephant and tiger conservation, as these act as ‘umbrella species’ that will support other wildlife if they are protected.”

However, evidence shows that part of a conservation zone inhabited by Sumatran tigers in another Riau-located APP-owned concession (PT SPA) has recently been burned.

The satellite images below depict the areas, both within and less than 1 km outside of the PT SPA concession, part of which were home to Sumatran tigers, which were burned in August.

The PT SPA case is yet another entry to the list of APP conservation zones in its Sumatra pulpwood concessions where haze-causing peat fires have taken place, just like at PT WKS in Jambi province and PT RHM in South Sumatra as previously reported by foresthints.news.

APP’s reaction

With regard to the cases involving PT RML and PT SPA, APP Sinar Mas’ Chief Sustainability Officer Elim Sritaba told foresthints.news (Oct 14) in writing that: “The fire situation this year has been more severe than in recent years due to drier conditions”.

“We have seen more fire incidents within 5 km of our concession boundaries. As a result of our approach of dealing with fires outside of our concessions, we have been able to prevent many fires from entering our concessions.”

“Therefore, we have seen a significant reduction of impact on our concessions,” Sritaba asserted.

However, APP should also realize that its operations have contributed at a certain level to this year’s fires, and the transboundary haze caused by them, which have adversely affected health conditions and economies at both a local level and in neighboring countries.