According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will require forest concessionaires to restore 1.4 million hectares of peatland starting in January 2017. The move is set to affect 650,389 hectares managed by 36 forest concessionaires in five provinces, namely South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Riau and Jambi, BRG head Nazir Foead said. “The areas to be restored are equivalent to 26 percent of the total peatland restoration target,” Nazir said.
The Environment and Forestry Minister ordered recently APRIL to remove the newly-planted acacia and close any new canals that had been opened in their concession. APRIL however stated that the order was not valid, claiming that removing the planted acacia would disrupt the ecological functions of the peatlands, making them vulnerable to peat fires and encroachment. APRIL also announced that it would not harvest the newly-planted acacia that made up part of its new peat development. But according to the Director General, APRIL has to accept the legal consequences of the peat violations it has carried out. He explained that the rejection was conveyed by letter in response to the letter sent by the APRIL company to the minister containing the rejected proposals.
Riau environmental coalition Jikalahari said that APP should remove the recently and unlawfully planted acacia, as ordered by the ministry: “we really hope that the APP companies exploiting last year’s burned peatlands face the full force of the law, both administrative and civil as well as criminal,” Jikalahari Chairwoman Woro Supartinah told foresthints.news.
“The legal prohibition of this is clear. As such, APP must remove all the acacia they have replanted in last year’s burned peatlands,” Woro demanded “APP must not merely pull out all the acacia replanted in last year’s burned peatlands. It must also restore the burned peatlands it has misused” dded Woro.
The monitoring done by the ministry’s shows that no peat restoration efforts at all have been undertaken across APP’s related companies this year. On the contrary, some of them APP has been found by replanting acacia in last year’s burned peatlands. Talking with Mongabay.com, APP claimed that the replanting has been authorised by the ministry, but the ministry recently stated otherwise.
Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has reiterated that no legal authorisation was ever granted to the giant conglomerate Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) to replant acacia in last year’s burned peatlands scattered across the island of Sumatra, especially in its three concessions in South Sumatra province. The government issued a new regulation that forbid plantation development and planting on peat that has been burned in Autumn 2015, as this peat have to be restored. In November this year, APP has been found by illegally planting acacia n burned peat, and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry imposed them to remove the newly planned acacia. According to Mongabay, however, APP commented offering only cryptic assurances that it follows “all government regulations and guidelines,” but the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s director of production forests Putera Parthama, told Mongabay that at least two APP units had been allowed to replant burned peat with acacia pulpwood trees. (PT Bumi Mekar Hijau and PT Bumi Andalas Permai.) as “it was for fire prevention.”
Two key stakeholders of APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), Greenpeace and the WWF, have announced that they are suspending their engagement with the committee. The committee has been created to supervise the implementation of APRIL policy. However in the last months, implementation has been extremely slow, while the company has been found in major breaches, especially in the management of peatlands. Furthermore, on these issues the company has also proven little transparence, even towards the committee itself.