World Rainforest Movement

Indonesia: Common Vision towards a stop to the expansion of pulpwood plantations

Members of twenty-five Indonesian NGOs and community organisations met in Riau, Sumatra, on 13th January 2007, to give voice to their serious concerns about the impacts of the pulp and paper industry and its fastwood plantations on people and forests.

Under the program referred to as HTI (Hutan Tanaman Industri), “Industrial Timber Plantation and Pulp Industry Development” launched by the government in the early 1980s, more than 5 million hectares were allocated for fast growing monoculture tree plantations (Acacia mangium and Eucalyptus) to support the pulp, paper and rayon industry. This massive expansion is underway to convert primary forest into timber –as well as rubber and oil palm plantations.

Representatives from the civil society organisations which have been discussing the basic demands to be made to the pulp and paper industry and the government, have submitted and signed a document which expresses their strong feeling that the expansion of pulpwood plantations “has surpassed the limits that the forests and humanity can bear”.

The process leading to include the country within the global paper market as a cheap provider of raw material has been sustained by the strip-mining of nature as well as the suffering and dispossession of forest people. As they put it in the document: “The use of forests to meet demand for raw materials from the pulp and paper industry in order to supply paper for international consumption has a terrible history of expropriating and violating communities’ rights which has left its scars. We have seen how the workings of the market, facilitated by various government policies, have directly and indirectly brought about company practices that damage peoples’ livelihoods and the environment in general.”

The negative impacts of the pulp and paper industry on the environment and the surrounding communities deprives them of their livelihoods and generates social conflicts and poverty. So, the claim is “to save the remaining forests and protect local and indigenous peoples’ rights in all the areas affected by pulpwood plantations and pulp and paper factories from unimaginable disaster.”

Among concerned parties there is now “a shared vision on the reconstruction and transformation needed in the development of Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry.”

They have stated that: “A number of points have been arisen as we have shared our experiences of organising advocacy and supporting affected communities through serious discussions about the pulp and paper industry. These have motivated us to take a stand together and to press for policy changes in order to stop all damaging practices and any further expansion of this industry. Over the next few years, we intend to monitor closely all policy instruments and to press for changes or revisions in these, working together in our different ways.

Based on these experiences, we have drawn up this Common Vision for Changes in Indonesia’s Pulp & Paper Industry which addresses policies, the industry and social conditions.

AIMS
To ensure that local and indigenous communities’ rights and interests are respected and ecological priorities are protected in fulfilling demand for Indonesian paper.

OBJECTIVES
1. To intervene in policy changes at local, national and international level that promote the expansion of pulpwood plantations and the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia.
2. To extend recognition of local and indigenous communities’ sustainable forest practices;
3. To close down pulp and paper factories that cause environmental pollution and damage communities’ interests; to oppose the construction of new plants; and to stop the expansion of pulpwood plantations.”

The ensuing action of the civil society organizations is to hold a strategic follow-up meeting later this year.

Article based on “CSOs take a stand on pulp”, Down to Earth Nº 73, May 2007, e-mail: dte@gn.apc.org, http://dte.gn.apc.org