Letter requesting clarification of 'unauthorized activity' sent to APRIL supplier
JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has kept its promise to the public by sending a letter to PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (SRL), one of APRIL’s major suppliers, questioning it about the harvesting that took place on 350 hectares of acacia planted blocks despite its permit having been suspended by the Minister of the Environment and Forestry in mid-November last year due to its involvement in peat fires.
This official letter, which was signed by the Secretary General of the Ministry on behalf of the Minister on 18 May 2016, requests clarification of the statement made by APRIL to the effect that PT SRL had notified it that the unlawful harvesting constituted 'unauthorized activity' on the concession and had been reported to the police.
"The letter we sent demonstrates our decisiveness and commitment when it comes to promoting more discipline in the forestry business sector, particularly concerning legal compliance with forest fire-related cases," Bambang Hendroyono, Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, told foresthints.news on Tuesday (May 18).
Bambang explained that no such letter would have been necessary, if the company had been able to ensure that no on the ground operations took place during the permit suspension period.
"Legal compliance, especially with respect to land and forest fire-related matters, really needs to be proven at the ground level. We are not prepared to risk the legal compliance undertaken by forestry businesses merely extending to promises made on paper to the government. There is no way we can foster a culture of discipline if we simply allow this to happen," he asserted.
The Secretary General cautioned that any recurrence of last year’s massive land and forest fires must be avoided at all costs in the coming years.
"The damage and losses brought about by those land and forest fires were hugely significant to local communities as well as the economy as a whole. Last year is an example we have to prevent from ever happening again,” Bambang exhorted.
He added that his Ministry consistently strives to be responsive in verifying all reports from civil society groups in order to show its support for strengthened public participation in the supervising of environmental and forestry related issues.
With respect to the letter sent to the Ministry, APRIL gave a standard response to foresthints.news (May 18), stating that they had already asked PT SRL for verification of the alleged 'unauthorized activity', and were still awaiting the results of a field investigation into the case.
NGOs, such as Jikalahari and Walhi, have vehemently denied the claim made by APRIL. These two NGOs declared that APRIL’s claim makes no sense and merely serves to show that the company’s supplier failed in its responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace and the WWF have appealed for the Ministry to take legal actions in response to the violations perpetrated by the APRIL's major supplier. Another organization, Greenomics, stated that APRIL could not simply wash its hands of the violations that took place as the operations of its supplier represented a joint venture/joint operations with APRIL itself.