Saturday, 6 June 2009

APP denies further accusations over Indonesian logging operations

APP denies further accusations over Indonesian logging operations

The Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) has said Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has not taken any action to protect the areas surrounding Indonesia's Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (BTNP) and that it has ignored requests to rule out purchasing from companies operating in the protected area.

Last week, APP denied accusations that it planned to carry out a large-scale logging operation in the BTNP, which is home to indigenous tribes and a designated and protected habitat for orangutans.

However, AOP said the company had ignored its requests that they rule out purchasing from companies that log in the area.

AOP vice president Tony Gilding said: "APP's PR machine is in full swing, with long and detailed letters and broad non-specific statements.

"However, the fact remains that it has done nothing to commit to saving this important conservation area and its wildlife."

It has also claimed that APP attended a meeting at the Forestry Department of Indonesia with 17 delegates a few days ago.

It is understood that the department have advised that a ruling on whether logging can take place in the area will be made in the next two weeks.

However, Aida Greenbury, director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement, APP Indonesia, said: "The surrounding area in discussion has not been logged.

"The government emphasised on the NGO to respect national law, regulations and systems in place to protect the area. AOP did not attend the meeting."

She said APP does not and will not purchase any logs from the Bukit Tigapuluh area until it has received a multi-stakeholder reassurance that the area is in compliance with all national law and regulations and the protection of high-conservation values is ensured.

The company has previously said it is fully committed to the protection of the national park and to the responsible management of its surrounding areas.

Greenbury said that this definition had been clearly defined by its previous statement.

"It means the area is managed sustainably for the benefit of the people of Indonesia and the protection of high-conservation values, in line with the national law, regulations and the national long-term development planning," she said.

She added that plantations play a crucial role as buffer zone to protect conservation area against illegal encroachment and deforestation.

A multi-stakeholder meeting was conducted on 22 May by the directorate general of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation.

An independent biodiversity assessment will be conducted shortly.