Fashion designer, Stella McCartney, launched #THERESHEGROWS on Instagram to raise awareness of the endangered Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The campaign supports Canopy’s work to conserve Leuser, the last stronghold for orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers to co-exist in the wild. Canopy works alongside local and international NGOs and local decision-makers to protect the 6.5 million-acres rainforest, encouraging a conservation-based economy in the region.
Plantation firms like Asia Pulp & Paper and Toba Pulp Lestari have a history land tenure issues, but more recently they have pledged to eliminate the practice from their supply chains. Some conflicts, however, remain unaddressed and a new online platform launched by the Rainforest Action Network shows that communities are still feeling the effects of losing traditional forests to make way for plantations.
"Zero deforestation” champion creates new risks for Indonesia’s forests and carbon-rich peatlands with mega-scale pulp mill
A recent study released by 12 international and Indonesian NGOs reveal that Asia Pulp &Paper (APP) is building one of the world’s largest pulp mills without a sustainable wood supply in South Sumatra. This analysis indicates that the current planted area owned by APP is insufficient in supporting this new mill as well as the 2 existing mills. This report suggests that APP may fail to meet its ‘zero deforestation commitments’ made in 2013 which included ‘100% sustainable plantation wood for pulp’.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s comments on the destruction of the rainforests in Indonesia are being criticised by Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya. Following his visit last month to the Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra, DiCaprio posted on social media that ‘palm oil expansion is destroying this unique place’. Nurbaya shared that it was rather unfortunate that DiCaprio didn’t obtain comprehensive information about deforestations issues in Indonesia and that the current government are working hard to protect the environment.
A study published in August in the journal Environmental Research Letters reveals that more than half of the fire emissions originate from outside timber and oil-palm concession boundaries. Several studies have shown a similar finding, which is that the dominant cause of fire in both Sumatra and Kalimantan is rural communities. Only targeting plantation companies as the government and NGOs are doing at the moment won’t work. The Indonesian fire and haze problem is complex, with multiple actors playing a role. To address the problem, the government should be more specific in its management, including law enforcement, localized approaches, taking the costs of development into consideration.
It’s been a year since Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL) released its latest ‘Sustainable Forest Management Plan’. APRIL claims to have an ‘ongoing commitment to conservation and a sustainable approach to landscape development.’ But it plans to continue clearing forests until 2020. It also refuses to stop draining peatlands - even though doing so wrecks the climate, and leads to forest fires and floods. Over the past year, Greenpeace researchers have been monitoring APRIL’s operations on Padang Island, off the coast of Sumatra. The photos they took show what APRIL’s real objective is to clear as much of Indonesia's rainforest as it can get away with before it is forced to stop.
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a long-time target of environmental campaigners, committed in February 2013 to protect and restore a million hectares of forest across Indonesia under its Forest Conservation Policy. This video presented by Tony Juniper, an advisor to APP, highlights key aspects of the policy. The policy requires its suppliers to not only protect natural forest resources, but also biodiversity and human rights. APP has worked with The Forest Trust (TFT) to help develop and implement the policy. And the company has adopted the High Conservation Value (HCV) assessment, developed by the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure the values of natural forest are fully understood. APP is also adopting High Carbon Stock (HCS) survey to understand the location of big stocks of carbon. The restoration commitment of APP targets nine “landscape” across Sumatra and Kalimantan, regions where the company sources its fibre.
An independent study by The Forest Trust and Ata Marie have found that APP has sufficient plantation resources to supply a massive new mill being built in OKI, South Sumatra. The study did however uncover one minor gap in supply in 2020. Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability said “The TFT report forecasts a minor gap in supply in 2020. However it is clear that with a harvesting rotation of around five years, improvements made now can bridge that gap by increasing productivity of supplier plantations through improved yield, better tree stock and reduction of waste. As such, we have been developing an action plan to ensure we have sufficient plantation fibre to meet the pulp requirements of our existing mills as well as our future mill in South Sumatra, in line with our target to become a 100% plantation business for pulp production.
According to a letter signed by signed by Huma, Forest Peoples Program, Rainforest Action Network, Wahana Bumi Hijau, Scale Up, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Jambi, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau, and Pusaka, APRIL’s new forest policy allows the company to continue destroying rainforests and peatlands for industrial plantations. The letter highlights a dozen concerns over APRIL's policy, including a lack of a moratorium on natural forest conversion, failure to identify and protect high carbon stock (HCS) areas, and unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts and embracing the concept of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from affected local communities. It also says that the policy appears to not apply to APRIL’s sister companies or suppliers. The letter comes days after Greenpeace documented APRIL-owned PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper destroying peat forest on Pulau Padang, an island off Sumatra. In response to the report, APRIL said the clearing was in line with its forest conservation policy.
By declaring its intention to restore and support conservation of one million hectares of natural forest and other ecosystems in Sumatra and Kalimantan, APP has substantially strengthened the Forest Conservation Policy it announced in February 2013. WWF Indonesia said “we remain cautious of these new developments but we are encouraged with the level of ambition, which is unprecedented.” WWF’s tacit support of the restoration pledge reveals the extent of this engagement. It was only last month that WWF issued a brief to paper buyers warning them to wait to resume business with APP.
Greenpeace has reported that Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) faces expulsion from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) if it fails to stop clearing rainforests and peatlands on the island of Sumatra. APRIL has twelve months to comply or face expulsion from the WBCSD. APRIL is one of the largest deforesters in Sumatra, with 60% of its wood coming from natural forests. Campaigns against APRIL have been stepped up a notch since its biggest competitor – Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) – signed a comprehensive forest conservation policy last February.
Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper company is preparing to start work on a project to restore a degraded peat forest in Sumatra, marking a new direction for the company that has left some skeptical. April has been widely criticized by environmental groups such as Greenpeace, who accuse the paper giant of cutting down natural forests in Sumatra to feed its paper mills. When the company announced its Kampar Peninsula project, local environmental groups such as the Forest Rescue Network Riau (Jikalahari) called the project “greenwashing” and said the company was continuing to destroy forests in other parts of the province.
The actor Harrison Ford, who has been filming a documentary called ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ in Indonesia, has been threatened with deportation after confronting the forestry minister in an interview. The actor asked the minister why deforestation was occurring in protected areas after he had witnessed illegal logging taking place in Sumatra. The documentary will air on the US television network Showtime in April 2014.
APP has announced two breaches of its forest moratorium on natural forest clearance. The first small-scale clearance for a pre-planned community project had already been reported. The second case appears to be an outright breach of the policy in Sumatra by three companies which cleared 69 hectares of high carbon stock forest in a "No Go" zone. APP called the violation "unacceptable" and says it will improve sign-off procedures to address the breach.
A new Eyes on the Forest report accuses Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) of continuing to destroy large areas of rainforests and peatlands despite a commitment to end natural forest logging by 2009. The report draws links between APRIL’s wood suppliers and their obtaining of cutting licences from officials who have been convicted of corruption offences and are now serving custodial sentences. In response APRIL has acknowledged that it continues to clear natural forest but claims that all licences were issued prior to the moratorium in 2011, hence making the company compliant with Indonesian law.
Local officials have blamed flooding in Indonesia on illegal logging in the area surrounding a dam which overflowed. Residents were forced to flee as their homes were submerged by up to five metres of water. The officials are working with police to crack down on illegal logging and there are plans to reforest some areas later in the year.
The Google Earth Outreach team has awarded a grant to Eyes on the Forest and WWF to host, store and manage map data on Sumatran rainforest. The tool will incorporate a number of layers including forest loss over time, species distribution, conservation intervention priority areas, restoration priority areas, degraded lands and government protected areas. Eyes on the Forest and WWF hope that the data can be used to urge decision-makers to take steps to protect natural forests.
Two ecologists in Switzerland have designed and built a flying drone which they believe could be used to monitor illegal logging in remote and hard-to-reach regions. It was initially intended to video and photograph orangutans from the air in order to monitor their populations. However, on its debut flight over Sumatra it recorded evidence of rainforest logging. Flight launches are planned in Malaysia and Borneo in the coming months and the researchers will make public the instructions for assembling similar crafts.
According to an Indonesian weekly news magazine the Ministry of Environment is preparing a civil suit against fourteen pulp and paper companies – twelve linked with APP and two with APRIL – for illegally clearing forests on Sumatra. The value of the timber only represents four per cent of the damages being claimed, the balance is for ‘ecological losses’. The Ministry of Forestry is opposing the lawsuit.