Indonesia: Agency upset with APP over refusal to submit map

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 8 Jun 16;

The government, through the newly established Peatland Restoration Agency ( BRG ), is working on the restoration of over 2 million hectares of damaged peatland, aiming to reduce the risks of forest fires.

Despite the majority of big companies showing support for the program, one big company allegedly refuses to cooperate.

BRG head Nazir Foead said that APP, part of local conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, had repeatedly rejected the agency’s request for the company to submit its concession map.

“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 said.

BRG, established earlier this year by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to lead a national effort to restore fire-prone peatland and curb the recurring risk of fires, is preparing a map to identify priority restoration areas and set zonation of peat conservation and cultivation areas.

The map will enable all stakeholders to start working together in restoring land under their control, including concession holders as they are required to restore damaged peatland within their concession areas.

Forest fires shortchanged Indonesia’s economy of US$16 billion last year and catapulted the country past Japan as the world’s fifth-biggest polluter.

A detailed map, including a concession map from companies, will avoid problems in the future as concession maps often overlap with other types of land, such as community land and conservation zones.

“That’s why we are asking big companies to share their data. If there is a gap, we could just check on the field,” Nazir said.

Nazir said he had approached the Environment and Forestry Ministry on the matter and that the ministry said that it had told APP to submit its data directly to the BRG instead.

“I am not representing an NGO. This is a government institution with clear authority from the President. I am surprised that is has yet to cooperate,” he said.

APP sustainability and stakeholder management senior manager Trisia Megawati said the company had mapped its concession using light detection and ranging ( LiDAR ) technology and had submitted the map to the ministry on May 11.

After that, the company had presented the map in front of the ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control directorate general, the Geospatial Information Agency ( BIG ) and the BRG.

“APP is supporting the government’s program in protecting peatland in Indonesia by implementing the principle of coordination, integrity and synchronization with relevant parties, including with the Environment and Forestry Ministry in utilizing existing data,” Trisia said.

However, she refused to comment on why the company refused to submit its map to the BRG and instead submitted it to the ministry.

The ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control director general, Karliansyah, confirmed that he had received the concession map from APP.

However, the ministry had not submitted the map to the BRG because it had just received the map last month.

But if the BRG requested the map again at the ministry, Karliansyah said that he would give the map to the agency.

“Of course we will give it. We have to support the BRG. The government is one,” he said.

APP ‘uncooperative’ in peatland restoration efforts
Today Online 9 Jun 16;

JAKARTA —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. AGENCIES

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