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Why Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry is reluctant to investigate APP’s illegal logging of ramin trees

When Greenpeace told the Ministry of Forestry that it had found evidence that Asia Pulp and Paper was illegally logging ramin trees, the Ministry’s response less than enthusiastic. More than two weeks later, the Ministry told Greenpeace that it “intends” to visit APP’s pulp mill. Meanwhile APP has been busy removing the evidence from its timber yards.

Shocking evidence in a recent report by Greenomics Indonesia reveals that the Ministry of Forestry knew that APP’s suppliers were planning to log ramin trees, before the trees were cut. Greenomics Indonesia has released documents from APP’s timber suppliers that specifically name ramin as one of the species to be logged.

Greenomics Indonesia’s report, titled “Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Pulpwood Suppliers’ Own Operational Plans Reveal Deliberate Clearing of Ramin and Other Protected Tree Species”, can be downloaded here (pdf file 761 kB).

Logging of ramin trees has been banned in Indonesia since 2001. But Greenomics Indonesia’s report explains that “operational plans of APP’s own pulpwood suppliers … show that these pulpwood suppliers deliberately planned to fell protected trees, including ramin trees.” APP’s suppliers cleared peatswamp forest in a “planned and programmed manner” after having identified ramin trees in the area to be cleared in the companies’ micro-delineation documents.

Greenomics Indonesia explains why it uses the words “in a planned and programmed manner” to describe the operations of APP’s suppliers, as follows:

“Because the plans are clear to be seen from the relevant micro­‐delineation documents, which are official operational documents and are legally binding on the firms that produced them in the development of their pulpwood plantations.”

Greenomics Indonesia looks at case studies of five micro-delineation documents produced by APP suppliers in Riau Province. All five supply wood from native forests to APP’s Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper mill, where Greenpeace’s researchers found ramin logs in the timber yard.

The five companies are:

  • PT Arara Abadi – concession area of almost 300,000 hectares.
  • PT Ruas Utama Jaya – concession area of almost 45,000 hectares.
  • PT Bina Duta Laksana – concession area of 28,890 hectares.
  • PT Satria Perkasa Agung – concession area of 11,830 hectares.
  • PT Satria Perkasa Agung KTH Sinar Merawang – concession area 9,300 hectares.

In each case, Greenomics Indonesia found that ramin was mentioned in the companies’ micro-delineation documents. Greenomics Indonesia asks “Has the Ministry of Forestry attempted to stop the clearing of ramin trees in a planned and programmed manner by APP’s pulpwood suppliers?” The answer, according to Greenomics Indonesia is “beyond dispute”:

“no efforts were made by the Ministry of Forestry to prevent the clearing of ramin trees. This is clear from the fact that the micro-delineation documents of APP’s pulpwood suppliers were never revised, meaning that they were reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Forestry.”

The fact that the Ministry of Forestry knew all along that APP’s suppliers were illegally logging ramin could explain the Ministry’s reluctance to investigate the findings of Greenpeace’s investigation. When Greenpeace told the Ministry about the results of its year long investigation, the Jakarta Post reported Darori, the Ministry of Forestry’s director general of forest protection and conservation, as saying that,

“We applaud Greenpeace for informing us about APP allegedly illegally trading ramin because the company doesn’t have a permit to do so. However, it will be very difficult to verify the report as Greenpeace did not give us the actual proof, such as samples of the ramin. They only gave us written report and photos.”

Ministry of Forestry officials sprang into action to investigate the case. Avoiding any obvious moves like visiting APP’s timber yards, they sat diligently at their desks in Jakarta. For two weeks.

They have now told Greenpeace that they “intend to visit the mill”. Meanwhile, Greenpeace’s ongoing monitoring of the Indah Kiat pulp mill reveals that APP “has been engaged in a rapid clean-up operation, removing ramin from its logyards”.

The Jakarta Post reported Darori as saying, the Ministry could “reprimand APP or revoke its permit if it was proven to be guilty”. But what chance is there of that happening, when the Ministry of Forestry approved the illegal logging in the first place?

PHOTO Credit: Greenpeace.

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  1. Greenpeace Indonesia wrote to the Minister of Forestry on 13 March 2012, about the Ministry’s lack of action so far in investigating APP’s illegal logging. In the letter, Greenpeace describes its evidence as “irrefutable” and requests a formal statement from the Ministry explaining when it will take decisive action. The letter is available here, in bahasa Indonesia.

  2. The story seems to have developed a lot since Greenpeace’s “amazing” ramin revelation. Am I the only one not surprised? Just remind me how APP is breaking the law again?

    You should go back and read your original reporting. REDD-monitor? You’re a bit too left of centre for my taste. Have you considered dropping one of the Ds in REDD-monitor? (Seriously though, this is a v useful for me, but I do think it’s pretty biased towards the environmentalists.)