Friday, November 13, 2009

Climate Activists call on Obama to stop Indonesian Deforestation

Activists from a Climate Camp in the forests of Indonesia have taken direct action locking down earrthmoving and logging equipment. The site on the Kampar Peninsula of the island of Sumatra is being logged and cleared by Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Ltd (APRIL), one of the largest pulp and paper companies in Indonesia, to make way for tree plantations, grown for pulp and paper. All the activists have been detained by Police.

Related: Climate Defenders Camp established to preserve Indonesian Rainforest Peatlands | Photoset of Direct Action | APRIL watch Blog | Pulpmill watch | REDD Indonesia | Greenpeace Climate Rescue Blog


One group of activists unfurled a 20 metre by 30 metre banner which said 'Obama you can stop this' appealing for Barak Obama to take a leadership role in Climate Negotiations at COP15 Copenhagen in December, and to also raise it at the APEC heads of Government meeting in Singapore over 14-15 November. Global deforestation is responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. While the banner was being deployed other activists locked onto the heavy excavators owned by APRIL. APRIL has its company headquarters in Singapore.

Greenpeace earlier released fresh evidence of APRIL conducting forest clearing and peat drainage in this area. Greenpeace claims there are strong indications that the peat is deeper than three meters - illegal to drain under Indonesian law - despite APRIL's statements that it has ceased operations in the peninsula.

This evidence was presented to a public meeting held by APRIL in the region capital of Pekanbaru. According to Greenpeace APRIL stated that they had yet to begin active clearing in the area of the Kampar peninsula.

It has been reported that Finnish paper giant UPM-Kymmene has decided to discontinue its contract with APRIL arising from a WWF Finland campaign. UPM-Kymmene is featured in Nordic Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI 2009 Nordic) and has taken proactive action to reduce green house emissions from its plants. A 1998 report by independent auditors SGS referred directly to UPM-Kymmene and said "APRIL would not be able to undertake its destructive activities without this market support. These companies must therefore accept partial responsibility for supporting the catastrophic damage that has occurred in recent years to Indonesia's forests." (World Rainforest Movement bulletin NÂș 55, February 2002.)

The soils on the Kampar Peninsular store about 2 billion tonnes of carbon in swampy peatland forests and mangroves. Much of the forest on the peninsular has already been destroyed to make way for palm pantations and industrial tree plantations for the pulp and paper industry. APRIL claims it want to protect the Kampar Peninsular with a REDD project - a "plantation ring" around the Kampar Peninsula offers the most viable management option." says APIL's website.

A report released in October, 2009 by Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) - Indonesia: indigenous peoples and the Kampar Peninsular - has found that APRIL has ignored the views of local people on the Kampar Peninsular, including basic information about the project.

A survey and workshops were done with indigenous communities in May 2009 which found "None of the communities had been given clear information about the project, no efforts had been made by the company to assess communities' land use systems or customary rights, no measures had been taken to identify their representative organisations, and no negotiations had been undertaken to secure their agreement to the proposed project.". The report concludes "Alternatives that exclude local people will neither be sustainable nor just, and risk provoking further conflicts over land." More Information from REDD in Indonesia - Indonesia: Communities reject APRIL's REDD plans on the Kampar Peninsular.

Peat is said to account for 50% of Indonesia's carbon emissions as a result of drainage, degradation, oxidation and/or burning. Stopping deforestation and drainage of swamplands would help reduce Indonesia's carbon emissions drastically and would contribute greatly to meeting the President of Indonesia's declared target of 26% emission reductions by 2020.