In pictures: APRIL’s unhappy anniversary

It’s been a year since APRIL released its latest ‘Sustainable Forest Management Plan’. The pulp & paper company asked critics to believe it was serious about the conservation of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands.

We were deeply sceptical. It isn’t the first time APRIL has made grand promises. In 2004, the company pledged to stop pulping the rainforest by 2009. Needless to say, it reneged on that promise – and every similar promise it has made since.

APRIL claims to have an ‘ongoing commitment to conservation and a sustainable approach to landscape development.’ But it plans to continue clearing forests until 2020. It also refuses to stop draining peatlands – even though doing so wrecks the climate, and leads to forest fires and floods.

Over the past year, our researchers have been monitoring APRIL’s operations on Padang island, off the coast of Sumatra. The photos they took show what APRIL really means when it talks about ‘sustainable forest management’.

March 2014: two months after APRIL announced it’s new policy, we caught the company clearing the rainforest and digging drainage canals into deep peatland.

Rainforest logs being loaded to a small barge inside the concession owned by PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (PT. RAPP), part of APRIL group in Padang Island, Tanjung Padang village, Tasik Putri Puyu Sub district Kepulauan Meranti District, Riau province. 03/06/2014 © Greenpeace

A new drainage canal has been opened inside the concession owned by PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (PT. RAPP), part of APRIL group in Padang Island, Tanjung Padang village, Tasik Putri Puyu Sub district Kepulauan Meranti District, Riau province. 03/06/2014 © Greenpeace

May 2014: APRIL’s clearance continues. Hundreds of hectares of rainforest has been destroyed and the landscape is dissected by drainage canals.

Active clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. PT RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. On 28 January 2014, APRIL announced that it intends to continue to use rainforest logs until at least 2020. 05/20/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Active clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. PT RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. On 28 January 2014, APRIL announced that it intends to continue to use rainforest logs until at least 2020. 05/20/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Recent large-scale clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. PT RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. On 28 January 2014, APRIL announced that it intends to continue to use rainforest logs until at least 2020. 05/20/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Recent large-scale clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. PT RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. On 28 January 2014, APRIL announced that it intends to continue to use rainforest logs until at least 2020. 05/20/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

November 2014: APRIL has almost completely cleared the rainforest. Thousands of hectares of natural forest has been destroyed, replaced by a devastating sea of tree stumps and piled logs destined for pulping.

Rainforest logs from recent clearance stacked beside a canal ready for collection near Bagan Melibur village inside the PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang. The company has cleared extensive areas of deep peatland for pulpwood on the Indonesian island, located in Kepulauan Meranti district of Riau province. RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. 11/08/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Burnt tree stump in a recently cleared cleared peatland forest near Bagan Melibur village inside the PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang. The company has cleared extensive areas of deep peatland for pulpwood on the Indonesian island, located in Kepulauan Meranti district of Riau province. RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. 11/08/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Logs stacked during active clearing of natural forest in Sumatran peatlands. The clearing and draining is taking place inside a PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession in Bagan Melibur village, Padang island, Kepulauan Meranti district, in Indonesia’s Riau province. RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. 11/08/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

A Greenpeace activist bears witness to the recent destruction of peatland forest near Bagan Melibur village inside the PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang. The company has cleared extensive areas of deep peatland for pulpwood on the Indonesian island, located in Kepulauan Meranti district of Riau province. RAPP is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the RGE Group. 11/08/2014 © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

These photos – and the destruction they depict – give the lie to APRIL’s claims of progress. They’re a stark reminder of the company’s real objective: to clear as much of Indonesia’s rainforest as it can get away with before it is forced to stop.

In fact, with the company’s larger competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper, having stopped clearing forests two years ago, APRIL is now the greatest single threat facing Indonesia’s forests.

Companies that persist in buying from APRIL, and banks like Santander and ABN Amro that are financing APRIL’s operations, are helping to make destruction like this possible. They should take their business elsewhere until the company has changed its ways and agreed to protect what’s left of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands.

Zulfahmi is a Forest Campaign Team Leader for Greenpeace Indonesia.

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