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RAPP Submits Revised Business Plan to Comply With Regulation on Protecting Peatlands: Minister

JAKARTA, Indonesia (From news reports) -- Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, or RAPP, the operation unit of global pulp and paper industry leader Asia Pacific Resources International, has submitted a revision of its long-term business plan to comply with government regulations on peatland protection, a minister said.

"I have seen key points in their revised work plans. They have complied with the government regulations on peat protection," Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya told reporters in Jakarta.

RAPP previously had a spat with the ministry after it rejected the company's 10-year business plan for a failure to comply with the government's new peatland protection framework, as detailed in Ministerial Decree No. 17 of 2017. That decree provides technical detail related to the implementation of Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016.

The company was forced to cease all of its upstream activities after the ministry rejected its work plan, including seeding, planting and harvesting and transportation of acacia and eucalyptus logs.

RAPP submitted its newly revised business plan to the ministry on Oct. 26 after two letters of reprimand, which stated that the company must submit its plan before Oct. 30.

The government's tougher approach for peat protection and management may affect up to half of the company's upstream operations in its 480,000-hectare concession areas in the districts of Pelalawan, Kuantan Sengingi, Siak, Kampar and Meranti Island in Riau province.

"With this revision of the work plan, RAPP realizes that there are protected peatlands within their [concession] areas," she said.

RAPP has planted acacia and eucalyptus -- sources for paper -- on its concession areas. The company has demanded a land swap scheme that can ensure a stable supply of raw materials and which has a "clean and clear" legal status.

"We will need to see their planting rotation plan too before making a decision about providing the land swap," Siti added.

The ministerial decree of 2017 affects at least 85 land concession holders in Indonesia, forcing them to revise their work plans due to the status of protected peatlands within their concession areas.

The ministry said it has approved revised work plans for 12 companies so far.

The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has set a target of restoring 2.4 million hectares of degraded peatlands by 2020. The agency, which was established in January 2016, has restored at least 200,000 hectares of degraded peatlands so far.

At least 1.4 million hectares of degraded peatlands are situated within concession areas that the agency is not able to restore.

The agency has urged the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to require concession holders to restore those degraded peatlands in their area.

Indonesia has been firm on protecting the country's peatland ecosystems that are threatened yearly by large fires.

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