In 2018, Indonesian pulp and paper producers Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) continued to source wood from a supplier that violated their respective no- deforestation commitments. Satellite imagery indicates that PT Fajar Surya Swadaya destroyed tropical rainforest to develop wood fiber plantations at least through 2017. Government reports record wood shipments from PT Fajar Surya Swadaya’s plantations to APRIL and APP affiliated mills in 2017 and 2018.
APP confirmed the deforestation on PT Fajar Surya Swadaya after this NGO coalition published the satellite imagery in August 2018. APP claimed to have stopped shipments to its pulp mill in Sumatra, even as it continued to accept the tainted wood in 2018 to an affiliated chip mill in Kalimantan. APRIL, denying any violation of its sustainability policy, used double the amount of wood in 2018 from this controversial supplier than it did the preceding year – over 10,000 truckloads worth.
Deforestation at East Kalimantan Concession
● PT Fajar Surya Swadaya cleared nearly 20,000 hectares (ha) of natural forest during 2013–2017 (see Map 1), according to a report published by a coalition of civil society organisations in August 2018.
● Djarum Group is the owner of PT Fajar Surya Swadaya. One of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates, Djarum Group is reportedly building a pulp mill in East Kalimantan under the company PT Agra Bareksa Indonesia. The mill plans to use PT Fajar Surya Swadaya as a source of wood.
Map 1. Satellite imagery analysis of PT Fajar Surya Swadaya’s concession in East Kalimantan indicating deforestation during 2001–2012 and 2013–2017, and remaining natural forest cover.
APRIL and APP Wood Sourcing in 2018
PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, APRIL’s flagship pulp and paper mill in Indonesia, sourced 305,617 m3 of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya in 2018, according to the company’s wood utilisation reports.
PT Indah Kiat, APP’s largest pulp and paper mill in Indonesia, sourced 18,538 m3 of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya in 2018, according to wood utilisation reports filed with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Another 25,099 m3 of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya in 2018 entered an APP-affiliated chip mill in East Kalimantan operated by PT Sarana Bina Semesta Alam.
APP confirms deforestation and cuts supplier
APP’s response to the deforestation findings detailed in the joint NGO report of August 2018 was to publish a “verification report” on logs purchased from PT Fajar Surya Swadaya. In the “verification report”, APP states that Fajar Surya Swadaya converted High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, and in November 2017 APP categorised the supplier as “significant risk not aligned with APP’s commitment”. Both APP and APRIL have commitments that prohibit sourcing from operations linked to destruction of High Conservational Value (HCV) and HCS forests.
In the “verification report” APP has described the purchase of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya as an “administration lapse” that occurred because it began a pulpwood supply contract with Fajar Surya Swadaya before the supplier review process was complete. APP’s response claims that the 27,367 tonnes of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya has not been used in the pulp production process (see Graphic 1), but
also acknowledges that 3,548 tonnes (about 120 truckloads) has actually been included in the production process as fuel for the mill’s boilers and to make pallets.
APP stated, “This administration lapse and our quarantine response, was shared with our FCP implementation partner, TFT.” However, until the joint NGO report was released in August 2018, neither APP nor The Forest Trust (TFT), a consultancy now called Earthworm Foundation, had apparently publicly reported the purchase of wood from a supplier that did not meet APP’s sustainability requirements. APP claims that it told stakeholders it had suspended contracts with two suppliers, while apparently not including the fact that it had purchased tainted wood from at least one of them.
Had the NGO report not been published, it appears that neither APP nor TFT/Earthworm planned to publicly report this breach of sustainability policy. The failure to self-report this breach prior to publication of the joint NGO report raises fundamental questions about the accountability of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy.
APRIL doubles supply in 2018, denying violation
APRIL sourced 305,617 m3 of wood from Fajar Surya Swadaya in 2018, according to the wood utilization reports from APRIL’s mill in Sumatra. Although this is less than 3 per cent of APRIL’s total wood supply for the Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper mill, it is a considerable amount of wood – around 10,000 truckloads worth. In 2017, APRIL’s mill used less than half of this amount, 141,183 m3.
In its response to the NGO report on deforestation in Fajar Surya Swadaya’s concession area, APRIL claimed that Tropenbos International had completed an HCV assessment for the concession and that plantation development only occurred on non-HCV areas. APRIL provided no documentation with this statement to support its claim.
An APRIL document from July 2018 states that PT Fajar Surya Swadaya’s HCV assessment is “Available
at supplier site”. An updated APRIL supplier list from May 2019 includes a link to a black and white photocopy of an Executive Summary of an HCV assessment conducted by Tropenbos International
on Fajar Surya Swadaya in 2015. The photocopy of the one map included in the Executive Summary
is blurry and without its original color-coding to denote specific HCV areas (see Figure 2). This HCV assessment, to the best of our knowledge, has not been submitted to the HCV Resource Network for peer review. In the past, NGOs have noted significant weaknesses in HCV assessments conducted for APRIL.
APRIL has not indicated publicly that it conducted or reviewed a High Carbon Stock assessment completed for the concession. Yet APRIL’s sustainability policy states: “APRIL and its suppliers will only develop areas that are not forested, as identified through independent, peer-reviewed High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments.”
APRIL’s pulp is increasingly used by its sister company Sateri to manufacture textiles reportedly purchased by clothing retailers such as H&M and Zara.
APP takes no responsibility for Kalimantan wood chip mill
APP confirmed the deforestation in Fajar Surya Swadaya’s concession area and cut supplies to its pulp mill in Riau. However, wood continued to flow in 2018 to an APP-affiliated chip mill in East Kalimantan operated by PT Sarana Bina Semesta Alam (PT SBSA). In response to the coalition’s initial report on Fajar Surya Swadaya, APP denied responsibility for the wood purchased by PT SBSA. At that time in August 2018, APP stated, “APP does not own or control PT Sarana Bina Semesta Alam (PT SBSA), which is alleged to have acquired fibre supply from PT Silva Rimba Lestari (PT SRL) and PT Fajar Surya Swadaya (PT FSS).” APP further claimed in a 2018 media article that it has “no legal or financial connections or influence” over PT SBSA.
Only six months later, APP reported that the wood chip mill PT Sarana Bina Semesta Alam is a “partner” over which it has “significant influence”, including possible ownership and management links. PT SBSA is owned by Sinar Mas/APP-affiliated holding companies, whose ultimate controlling shareholders and sole Commissioner have been identified to be current or former employees of Sinar Mas Forestry or APP, according to a civil society report published in May 2018 (see Figure 1). Three of the holding companies for PT SBSA use the address of Asia Pulp & Paper’s headquarters in Jakarta, according to corporate profile documents filed with Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights, as of April 16, 2018.
Furthermore, trade data indicates that in 2017 PT SBSA sent most of its wood chip exports, valued at over US$20 million, to Hainan Jinhai Pulp & Paper, APP’s pulp mill in China. Given that APP’s Forest Conservation Policy explicitly covers “APP and its suppliers in Indonesia [and] any Indonesian fiber utilised by APP’s mills elsewhere,” APP’s denial of responsibility for a mill within its supply chain and apparently under its control reflects poorly on the integrity of its sustainability commitments.
Koalisi Anti Mafia Hutan Recommendations
The Koalisi Anti Mafia Hutan calls on Djarum Group to:
- Immediately halt all future clearing of natural forests within the concession managed by PT Fajar Surya Swadaya and all other forestry concessions under the group’s management.
- Adopt a policy of zero-deforestation and a moratorium on land-use practices that involve the clearing of natural forests, drainage of peatlands, and/or the violation of rights of local communities.
- Publicly commit to remedy all environmental and social harm caused since the start of PT Fajar Surya Swadaya’s activities on the concession area in East Kalimantan.
The Koalisi Anti Mafia Hutan calls on APRIL and APP Groups to:
- Suspend wood purchases from Fajar Surya Swadaya pending Djarum Group’s adoption of the above recommendations.
- Make public all HCV assessments reportedly prepared for PT Fajar Surya Swadaya and formally submit them to the HCV Resource Network for technical peer review.
- Publicly document in a written report any violations of sustainability policy, share these on their respective websites, and email notification to all sustainability stakeholders.
- Fully implement an accountable policy of initiating purchase agreements for pulpwood only after the supplier review process is complete.
The Koalisi Anti Mafia Hutan calls on Djarum, APP, and APRIL Groups to:
Commit to adopting more genuinely independent, transparent, and accountable mechanisms for monitoring corporate commitments to zero-deforestation, responsible management of peatlands, and respect for the rights of local communities.