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Mighty Earth files complaint against Korindo with FSC. But no Korindo Group companies should have been FSC certified in the first place

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On 15 May 2017, the Washington-based NGO Mighty Earth submitted a complaint to FSC about the Korindo Group’s destructive activities.

FSC’s Policy of Association gives a list of “unacceptable activities”. Organisations carrying out any of these activities cannot be associated with FSC. One of the unacceptable activities is, “Significant conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use”. Another is “Violation of traditional and human rights in forestry operations”.

This is to avoid the situation that a company has one operation that meets FSC standards, but runs other operations involving large scale deforestation and abuse of human rights.

The Policy of Association defines significant conversion as, “Conversion of High Conservation Value Forests”, and, “Conversion of more than 10,000 ha of forests under the organization’s responsibility in the past 5 years”.

Korindo cleared more than 50,000 hectares of forests

In August 2016, AidEnvironment published a report about Korindo’s operations in Papua and North Maluku. The report, “Burning Paradise”, was commissioned by Mighty Earth, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, SKP-KAMe Merauke and PUSAKA. The report states that,

In total, Korindo has cleared more than 50,000 hectares of tropical lowland forests in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia…. Since 2013 alone it has cleared 30,000 hectares of forests in the two provinces, 12,000 hectares of which were primary forests. Korindo makes little effort to identify and preserve conservation areas within its concessions.

On traditional rights, AidEnvironment reported that,

In general, Korindo has failed to recognize the right of local communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to any new developments on community lands. Korindo’s subsidiary, PT Gelora Mandiri Membangun is occupying the farmland and forests of communities in South Halmahera district in North Maluku. Most of the communities, which have lived there for hundreds of years, are strongly opposed to an oil palm plantation. Korindo is disregarding their customary rights by continuing its operations there.

Mighty Earth’s full complaint to FSC is available here. Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth said in a statement,

“We call on the FSC to fully investigate Korindo’s violations of the Policy for Association, and take steps to terminate Korindo’s FSC certificates until it strictly complies with its standards.”

The Korindo Group has four FSC certified operations:

  • PT. Korintiga Hutani – FSC forest [sic] management certificate for 94,384 hectares of industrial tree plantations in Central Kalimantan;
  • PT. Aspex Kumbong – FSC chain of custody certificate for recycled paper;
  • PT. Korindo Abadi Asike – FSC chain of custody certificate for wood panels and plywood; and
  • PT. Korindo Ariabima Sari – FSC chain of custody certificate for wood panels and plywood.

Korindo breached its own moratorium

On 1 December 2016, Korindo announced a moratorium on forest clearing. But in February 2017 Mighty Earth released satellite images that clearly show that Korindo breached its own moratorium:

Mighty Earth’s Lapidus said,

“Until Korindo can delink its operations from deforestation and land rights violations, it should not be able to get away with carrying a green FSC label on its products. Korindo’s slogan, ‘Green Tomorrow’, says it all. For the FSC to maintain its credibility, it needs to require Korindo to clean up its operations today, not tomorrow.”

At this stage, I’m not sure FSC has any credibility left to maintain.

Korindo’s destruction has long been documented

SGS Qualifor certified Korintiga Hutani’s industrial monocultures under the FSC system on 9 May 2013. Obviously, at that time, AidEnvironment’s report had not been published. But information about Korindo’s destructive operations has been available for many years.

Here’s a Greenpeace photograph, taken on 26 March 2013, of an oil palm concession in the Merauke district of Papua belonging to PT Berkat Citra Abadi, part of the Korindo Group:

Korindo

But how were SGS Qualifor’s assessment team supposed to know that Korintiga Hutani is part of the Korindo Group?

Well, here’s a clue. The contact person for Korintiga Hutani is Park Jong Myung, whose email address is: paulpark@korindo.co.id. That should have set off alarm bells with SGS Qualifor. Or at least triggered a search on Google for Korindo.

Had SGS Qualifor bothered to spend 15 minutes on the internet, they might have found the Awas MIFEE website, which is an excellent source of information about forest destruction and human rights abuses relating to the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate industrial plantations project in Papua.

In April 2012, Awas MIFEE put out a report about the impacts of the MIFEE project. Here’s an extract:

Companies connected to the Medco, Rajawali and Korindo groups have all been logging the forests to make way for their plantations. A prerequisite to commencing operations is to negotiate the right to use the land of local people. Given the vast profits which these companies stand to make, the track record so far is a shocking catalogue of deceit, broken promises and coercion.

By May 2013, Awas MIFEE had five posts that mention Korindo’s operations. Since then, there have been many more. Awas MIFEE’s 2012 report includes a profile of the Korindo Group.

From Awas MIFEE’s profile of Korindo, Greenpeace’s 2004 report “Forest Crime: Korindo and the trade in illegal plywood from the last rainforests of Indonesia” is just a mouse click away.

Every year since 2013, SGS Qualifor has returned to Korintiga Hutani to carry out surveillance audits. And every year, more information has been available about Korindo’s destructive operations.

Korintiga Hutan had its environment permit suspended in 2015

On 16 November 2015, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry suspended Korintiga Hutani’s environment permit. In the Public Summary of its assessment of Korintiga Hutani, SGS Qualifor wrote that the suspension was, “due to breach of several environmental regulations as well as due to the forest fire occurred during dry season of 2015”.

This did not result in the suspension of Korintiga Hutani’s FSC certificate – because the company stopped operations and stopped selling timber while its environment permit was suspended, SGS Qualifor explains.

SGS Qualifor visited the company at the end of January 2016, and was happy to report that that Korintiga Hutani had bought some fire fighting equipment, was managing air pollution and hazardous waste “as required by the regulation”, and had published a public apology.

On 18 February 2016, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry lifted the suspension of Korintiga Hutani’s environment permit.

The fact that Korintiga Hutani was in breach of several environmental regulations, or that part of the company’s plantations had burned down, didn’t seem to bother SGS Qualifor in the slightest.
 


Originally posted on FSC-Watch, 5 June 2017.

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