Jakarta suspends firm over peatland violation

Peatland in a concession area belonging to Rapp, a unit of April Group.
Peatland in a concession area belonging to Rapp, a unit of April Group.PHOTO: PEATLAND RESTORATION AGENCY

Rapp reportedly still replanting acacia on protected lands in Riau

JAKARTA • The Indonesia government has suspended the activities of the country's second-largest timber firm, Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Rapp), because of non-compliance with peat protection rules.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry on Monday issued a decree declaring invalid Rapp's work plan - the basis for a timber company to carry out business - for the 2010-2019 period.

Rapp, a subsidiary of April Group, is reportedly still replanting acacia - a resource to produce paper - on protected peatlands within its concession areas in Pelalawan regency in Riau.

April itself is a subsidiary of Singapore-based Royal Golden Eagle.

Rapp had been issued two letters of reprimand earlier by the ministry.

The ministry's decree, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, also requires Rapp to submit a revised work plan complying with peat rules to the government before next Thursday.

Rapp corporate affairs director Agung Laksamana told a news conference on Thursday that the company had received the decree, saying it needed time to review "letters from the ministry", including the previous two reprimands issued on Sept 28 and Oct 6. He said: "We believe the government will provide the best solution for us now."

He added that Rapp would abide by the obligation to revise its work plan only under the condition that it could access substitution land, which, under a recent regulation, is to be given to companies whose concession areas comprise protected peatland. About 60 per cent of land within Rapp's concession areas in Riau, amounting to 388,000ha, is peatlands.

Mr Agung said the government had to provide "substitution land in a gradual way, with clean and clear conditions, technically and economically adequate and located near our industrial site".

Rapp operational director Ali Sabri said the company's 4,600 employees would be "gradually" laid off because of the suspension.

The decree is one of numerous peat protection rules issued by Indonesian President Joko Widodo's administration, which has been steadfast in improving peatlands in the country since deadly forest and land fires in 2015.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Jakarta suspends firm over peatland violation'. Print Edition | Subscribe