PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ) is an Indonesian palm oil company, with a land bank of more than 140,000 hectares. Of this the plantable area is 96,528 hectares, of which 44,143 hectares has so far been planted. The company is currently clearing forest in West Papua to make way for a further 40,500 hectares of oil palm plantations.
ANJ has other operations, including sago plantations, geothermal energy, a coal fired power station, and tobacco processing. This post focusses on ANJ’s planned palm oil operations in West Papua, and the clearing of intact forest areas by two of ANJ’s subsidiaries.
In its 2013 Annual Report, ANJ announces that,
2013 was a busy year of expansion for ANJ, starting with the acquisition of two palm oil landbank properties totalling 65,159 hectares in West Papua in January.
A recent report by Greenomics Indonesia notes that ANJ is planning to spend US$12 million on clearing forest in Papua over the next three years. The report also notes that in the period 2008-2013, ANJ was a “permanent supplier” to Wilmar, the world’s biggest palm oil company.
Here’s a chronology relating to the ongoing deforestation for ANJ’s oil palm plantations in Papua:
- 19 May 2011: Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a moratorium on new forest concessions, as part of the Indonesia-Norway US$1 billion REDD deal.
- 21 December 2011: The Minister of Forestry issued a forest land relinquishment permit to PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) for oil palm plantations, covering 34,147 hectares in South Sorong Regency, West Papua province.
- 31 October 2012: The Minister of Forestry issued a forest land relinquishment permit to PT Putera Manunggal Perkasa (PMP) for oil palm plantations, covering 23,424 hectares adjacent to PPM’s concession.
- January 2013: ANJ bought PPM and PMP.
- December 2013: Wilmar committed to a no deforestation policy.
In its report, Greenomics Indonesia points out that ANJ has been clearing “intact forest landscapes [in West Papua] since the closing months of 2013”. The company’s subsidiaries PPM and PMP have set up “an operations base for land clearance”, called “The Hexagon”. Here’s what it looks like – note the intact forest surrounding the cleared area:
Greenomics Indonesia uses data from Global Forest Watch to show that about 67% of the concession areas consists of intact forest landscapes. A series of Landsat 8 satellite images shows how the area deforested has increased near to “The Hexagon” from November 2013 to April 2014:
ANJ’s deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations in Papua raises important questions:
- Why did the Minister of Forestry award the two concessions to PPM and PMP after the moratorium was signed into force by Indonesia’s President?
- What action will the Indonesian and Norwegian governments take, given that the concessions appear to be clearly in breach of the moratorium (at least the areas of the concessions that Global Forest Watch’s data show as intact forest)?
- What action will Wilmar take? As Greenpeace commented when Wilmar announced its no deforestation policy, “Wilmar must be judged on its actions, not just its words”.
Greenomics Indonesia uncovered an interesting twist in this tale of forest destruction in West Papua. George Tahija is a commissioner of ANJ and a member of both The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Indonesia Chapter Advisory Board and the TNC Asia Pacific Council. As Greenomics Indonesia points out, many would question how Tahija can be simultaneously involved in a company that is destroying forests and an organisation that is supposed to protect forests.
Greenomics Indonesia suggests that TNC should use its “special access” to Tahija to prevent the ongoing forest destruction and that,
TNC needs to explain the steps that it proposes to take in connection with George Tahija role as a member of the TNC Indonesia Chapter Advisory Board and the TNC Asia Pacific Council having regard to his position as a commissioner and shareholder of ANJT, a company that plans to continue clearing intact forest landscapes in Papua until 2017 for the purpose of developing new palm oil plantations.
PHOTO Credit (top): ANJ’s oil palm plantations in West Kalimantan, from the company’s 2013 Annual Report.