APRIL Update on Operations in Pelalawan North, Riau Province
Operational activities currently being carried out by APRIL’s operating arm in the Pelalawan North area in Riau Province have prompted some questions from stakeholders, including a recent report by Jikalahari, regarding compliance with our Sustainable Management Forest Policy (SFMP) 2.0.
In the recent meeting of APRIL Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), it was noted that: “considerable attention was given to this matter by both the SAC and IPEWG (Independent Peat Expert Working Group) in August. This included a halt to all PT. RAPP operations activity in the area until the SAC and IPEWG could evaluate Jikalahari’s complaint. As a result, a series of recommendations were made to APRIL and PT. RAPP has satisfactorily responded to all of these. A written update was submitted to SAC during the SAC Meeting on 16th October 2020”.
Further to the SAC report, APRIL offers this update:
PT. RAPP’s involvement in the Dayun block extends back to 1996 when it was granted a concession licence to operate in the area. By the time ARIL was granted the land concession, the block was already heavily degraded as a result of illegal land clearing, encroachment and fire damage over many years, including the establishment of a large number of drainage canals and unauthorised oil palm development. Much of this land degradation activity had followed the earlier construction of a road built to support national oil and gas exploration activities which had provided access to the area.
There was also a need to address community land claims related to this area and remedy the illegal drainage. These factors meant that the area remained unmanaged and subject to high risk of annual burning until recently, when community land claims started to be resolved.
In 2015, a High Conservation Value (HCV) assessment was completed prior to the resumption of plantation activity. The assessment, which is published on APRIL’s Sustainability Dashboard, confirmed which areas were suitable for plantation activity.
The land uses were also approved by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry under the required RKU planning instrument in line with current regulations. Plans were also reviewed by IPEWG , as required under our Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP) 2.0 commitments.
Activity was then temporarily suspended in 2016 following regulatory changes as well as ongoing community land claims. In 2019, changes to regulations and agreement with local communities made it possible for 1,625 hectares, being outside of the peak of the peat dome, to be planted legally and in compliance with our SFMP 2.0.
PT. RAPP has recently resumed planting in this area, following the resolution of long-standing community land claims. This activity involves establishing fiber plantations, cleaning of existing canal structures and establishment of new ones to improve the water management and reduce fire risk. Alongside this activity, a new 256-hectare conservation area has been established at the North-Western corner of the block, adding to the buffer zone that exists between the block and the nearby Zamrud National Park.
PT RAPP also participated in a meeting with local stakeholders, including local NGOs and community representatives, that was hosted by the Siak District Government on 8th September 2020. The meeting helped to clarify any concerns regarding the operations.
Discussions will continue with community groups regarding land claims on the remaining 2,478 hectare of the Dayun block, where there is no current activity by APRIL until resolutions are reached.
APRIL’s Land Dispute Resolution Procedure is also subject to annual assurance by KPMG. As of December 2019, as per APRIL’s 2019 Sustainability Report, PT. RAPP has a total area of 28,249 hectares of plantations that are currently inactive due to unresolved land disputes. This compares to 31,979 hectares of inactive plantations in 2018.