October 8, 2019

Claim by APP’s owner disproved by haze-causing fires

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The 2016 sustainability report of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), signed by chairperson Linda Wijaya, included the following statement: "Hotspots are tracked up to 5 km outside of concession areas. If a hot spot is detected and confirmed, 2,700 certified firefighters are on call across 266 monitoring posts.”    

This claim from the APP sustainability report, which was published in early November 2017, has unfortunately not been proven on the ground. On the contrary, APP still contributed to haze-causing fires at a certain level in 2019, as highlighted by two pieces of key evidence presented in this news report.

Having been reached by TODAY Online Singapore for comment (Oct 3), this is the second news report on this matter from foresthints.news to follow up on our earlier article (Oct 4) in which we strongly rejected APP's denial of responsibility for haze-causing fires, using clear and irrefutable evidence. Two other pieces of evidence back this up.

First evidence

Firstly, PT FI pulpwood concession, one of the largest APP-owned concessions operating in West Kalimantan province, has been sealed by the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (Sep 12) due to evidence of forest and land fires inside its concession.

In the official document from the authorities, PT FI is said to be a foreign investment company originating from Singapore. The following photos depict the sealing process of the APP-controlled concession.

The sealing of the APP-owned concession by Indonesian forestry authorities clearly demonstrates that APP is unable to protect even areas within its concessions, let alone those up to 5 km outside of concessions, as claimed by the company’s owner.  

Second evidence

Secondly, APP’s largest pulpwood concession (PT WKS) operating in Sumatra’s Jambi province has also been unable to prevent peat fires in the concession areas, as well as up to 5 km from the concession boundaries.

The  ESA Sentinel-2 and Planet Explorer images below clearly show the extent to which PT WKS has failed to prevent peat fires burning inside its concession, as well as in a 5 km radius outside of its concession areas (delineated in red) which form part of the Londerang protection forest.

It should be reemphasized that the concession areas portrayed above are not areas allocated for community plantations. The distribution of canals indicated by the blue line are blocks of commercial acacia plantations. Most of these areas were burned in 2015 and burned again in September this year.

APP’s inability to protect the PT WKS concession areas, along with its failure to prevent fires up to 5 km outside of its concession areas, completely undermine the claim made in its sustainability report.

Ineffective SRC? 

The two pieces of key evidence detailed above call into question the effectiveness of the operations of APP’s Jakarta Situation Room Center whose tasks include, as explained in the APP sustainability report, “providing early detection continuously across all our pulpwood suppliers’ concession, using satellite data supplemented by on the ground verification.”

The fires both inside and up to 5 km outside of the APP concessions, as well as the sealing of one of its concessions by Indonesian authorities, should serve as a key lesson learned for this pulp and paper giant when it comes to upholding any future claims made and signed by the company owner in its sustainability report.