APP ‘uncooperative’ in peatland restoration efforts

APP ‘uncooperative’ in peatland restoration efforts

09 June 2016

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Indonesia — Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has hit out at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), whose products were pulled off the shelves from supermarkets in Singapore over alleged links to firms responsible for forest fires that caused the haze, saying that the company was being “uncooperative” in providing data as part of BRG’s peatland restoration efforts.

Mr Nazir Foead, who heads BRG, said many firms have submitted data that includes concession maps of their holdings. But APP, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, has yet to do so, he said. “Many companies submitted their data, but one company has been uncooperative and appears to not be serious. I’ll just disclose the name so it is aware of its faults. It’s APP,” he was quoted as saying by Jakarta Post.

The BRG was formed early this year, aimed at protecting and rehabilitating 2 million ha of peatland, one of the key sources of fires and haze that has blanketed the region. The agency is drawing up a map to identify areas that needed to be restored or rehabilitated. The detailed map will enable all stakeholders, including companies, to work with BRG to rehabilitate peatland destroyed by fires.

Mr Nazir also told Jakarta-based environment news portal that hundreds of thousands of hectares of burned peatland are located in concessions that fall under APP. “It’s very strange that a business group like APP has failed to cooperate with BRG. It’s almost as if they never even read the presidential regulation that established BRG. One of BRG’s duties is the restoration of the 2015 burned peatlands, many of which are situated in APP-linked concessions,” he said.

The portal also reported Mr Nazir as saying APP apparently wished to control the agency. “I’m sorry, but neither the peat agency nor the Environment and Forestry Ministry is willing to be dictated to whatsoever by APP. We are the ones in government so we call the shots, not APP. They mustn’t even try to dictate to us.”

He suggested that certain companies were not taking the opportunity to engage in dialogue on the information they have about restoration efforts that concern their concessions. “We are not the ones with the data. On the contrary, we are giving companies the chance to share their data regarding their concessions so that peatland restoration efforts involving these concessions can be supported by a set of data from the companies in question,” he was further quoted by

APP senior manager for sustainability and stakeholder, Ms Trisia Megawati, was quoted by news portal as saying the company has mapped its concession and submitted the data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry ministry on May 11. The company then presented the map to the ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control director-general, the Geospatial Information Agency and the BRG, she added. However, Ms Trisia did not say why the data was submitted to the ministry instead of to BRG.

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia blanketed the region from September to November last year and affected tens of millions of people. Last year, Singapore’s National Environment Agency sent notices to six companies directing them to put out fires allegedly contributing to the haze. APP was not served a notice, but was asked to provide further information on what it is doing to put out fires on its land concessions.

Major retailers in Singapore removed APP paper products from their shelves last year, after the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore asked retailers to declare they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia. The SEC has also restricted the use of APP’s Singapore Green Label certification. APP has previously said it followed the guidance set by the Indonesian government and supported BRG to establish ecosystem restoration models.

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