Yesterday, Asia Pulp and Paper and Carbon Conservation launched a REDD-type project on 15,640 hectares of peat forest on the Kampar peninsular, in Sumatra. “The Kampar Carbon Reserve is a gift from Indonesia to the world,” said Aida Greenbury, sustainability director for APP, in a press release. But the project raises serious questions about the credibility of REDD.
The Kampar Carbon Reserve, as the project is called, is a pulpwood plantation concession held by PT Putra Riau Perkasa (PRP), which in turn supplies APP. The project is intended to last for 30 years, in three phases.
The press release explains that
Kampar Carbon Reserve will develop in three phases. Phase one will take three to six months to do a complete assessment of the land, soil analysis and community needs, issues and challenges. Phase two, which could take approximately one year to complete, will involve independent auditors validating the carbon preservation model and securing third-party investment. Phase three will extend through the life of the project and will include activities to both protect and improve the land as well as annual third-party verification and certification.
APP and Carbon Conservation launched the project at the Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta. REDD-Monitor would have attended, but Aniela Maria, from APP’s ironically named “Sustanability and Stakeholder Engagement” department, wrote in an email to REDD-Monitor:
“Thank you for your email, unfortunately we cannot accommodate your request to attend because this is a private invitation-only event.”
Here are some of the questions that this project raises (which REDD-Monitor would have asked at the launch yesterday…):
- The land is a “deep peat carbon sink” according to the press release, although it doesn’t say how deep. Converting forest on peat deeper than three metres is illegal in Indonesia. Not that that seems to have stopped much forest destruction so far, but it could do. Given that Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry was involved in the negotiations for the deal, why did they not simply enforce the forest law? Recently, an article on the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta’s website noted that
“The LOI [Letter of Intent] has correctly recognized that unless the legal regime and law enforcement is strengthened to fight illegal logging, efforts at reducing deforestation is bound to fail. In fact the LOI also proposes a special unit to tackle this problem in its second phase after the preparation phase.”
Of course, this might be too little, too late. Meanwhile, will APP, Carbon Conservation and PT PRP be paid for agreeing in effect to obey Indonesia’s forest laws?
- It is not clear whether the project developers carried out a process of obtaining the free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous communities living in the area. The press release states that APP and Carbon Conservation “worked with” local stakeholders on the project. But a report in the Jakarta Post suggests that free, prior and informed consent has not been obtained:
[T]he company had yet to formulate detailed strategies or programs to develop local economic potential, Sun said, adding that the company expected to spend the next six months conducting dialogue with local community groups, regional governments and other related stakeholders to determine their priorities.
Did the project developers obtain free, prior and informed consent from local communities, before launching the project?
- It is not at all clear, from the information supplied in the press release, what the project actually involves. Dorjee Sun, head of Carbon Conservation says, “Working with APP we are giving new life to a carbon-rich piece of land that is roughly a quarter the size of Singapore that we are now conserving as a protected carbon plantation.” The email from APP inviting journalists to the launch in Jakarta is titled, “Launch of Indonesia’s First-Ever Pulpwood Plantation to Carbon Plantation.” In a video interview in which he talks about the project, Sun says, “The Kampar Carbon Reserve is also the Kampar Carbon Plantation because it’s both what could have been a plantation but it is now a plantation for carbon.”
So, will the project involve protecting forest, or converting it to a plantation?
- Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network commented to Reuters that, “While we support the conservation of the Kampar, this project in no way makes up for the tremendous amount of damage that APP and its affiliates are having on rainforests and peatlands across Indonesia.”
The project may protect a small area of the Kampar Peninsular, but if APP continues to expand its destructive operations elsewhere, this will have no impact on reducing deforestation. How does the project address leakage?
REDD-Monitor looks forward to posting responses from APP and Carbon Conservation to these questions.