Cablegate: Devil in the Details - Perils of Environmental Partnership
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0732/01 1010858
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100858Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8663
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1800
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4922
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2315
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4518
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000732
DEPT FOR OES/ENRC, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP
USTR FOR MLINSCOTT, DBROOKS
USAID FOR ANE, EGAT [CBARBER, MMELNICK]
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID KGHG ECON PGOV ID
SUBJECT: DEVIL IN THE DETAILS - PERILS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNERSHIP
1. (SBU) Summary: A logging road controversy involving Asia Pulp &
Paper (APP) on the island of Sumatra underscores the significant
role (beneficial or detrimental) of the private sector in protecting
critical forest habitats in Indonesia. Some NGOs and paper and pulp
companies have collaborated successfully in Indonesia. Entrenched
positions, however well-intentioned, can sometimes prevent other
potentially beneficial partnerships between NGOs and a large
forestry firm (like APP) from being realized. End Summary.
2. (SBU) "Eyes of the Forest", a coalition of various local NGOs
that appears to be spearheaded by Worldwide Fund for
Nature-Indonesia (WWF-Indonesia), recently accused APP of building
an illegal logging road in Kampar district, Riau Province that
threatens forests and rare tigers in eastern Sumatra. It said the
Kampar area is home to around 60 Sumatran tigers, and that the road
would give poachers easier access to this severely threatened
population. These groups have raised the issue before, and made
similar claims against APP in other parts of Sumatra. For example,
in January 2007, WWF-Indonesia said APP-associated companies were
constructing a highway bisecting the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape area
between Riau and Jambi provinces, as well as clearing natural forest
areas in the Jambi portion of that landscape. A WWF-Indonesia
representative, however, told us that work on the aforementioned
road in Kampar appears to have stopped recently.
3. (SBU) WWF and APP (and its Indonesian fiber suppliers, the Sinar
Mas Group forestry companies (SMG)) had a falling out in 2003. The
agreement to work together to protect forests in Riau and Jambi
provinces fell apart after six months due primarily to disagreement
over methodologies and statistical projections, says WWF-Indonesia.
WWF felt APP was not collaborating with them in good faith, and they
have not cooperated since. In addition to WWF, other green groups
also view APP as among the worse forestry companies in terms of
environmental practices. This has created concerns about the
"reputational" risk of associating with APP in any way.
The Impact: A Partnership Deferred...
4. (SBU) Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia (WCS-Indonesia) was
prepared to begin work with APP on tiger conservation in this part
of Sumatra last year. It had negotiated an agreement to train APP
staff to assess the numbers and conditions of tigers across all of
its holdings and then work to advise them on best management
practice. The agreement fell through when WWF-US advised WCS
headquarters against the collaborative arrangement. This, according
to one WCS staff member, was unfortunate "for both WCS and the
tigers". APP and its subsidiaries, says one of its employees, are
in one way or another responsible for around 1.2 million hectares of
forest in Sumatra.
...But Hoped For
5. (SBU) WCS-Indonesia is still in regular contact with APP staff;
it believes APP wants to collaborate constructively with NGOs on
conservation (whatever its motives for doing so), the more so after
all its bad publicity and its bad reputation among environmental
NGOs. Staples' recent decision to end its commercial relationship
with APP especially stung the company, coming on top of longstanding
accusations about its environmental practices. Staples had
previously sourced over 9 percent of its total paper supply from AP.
WWF's lobbying, including publicity about the logging road, was
apparently highly influential if not decisive in Staples' decision.
(Note: APP officials could not meet with us at this time, due to
work and travel schedules, but we plan to meet them at the end of
April to discuss the issue in more detail. End Note.)
6. (SBU) The same WCS-Indonesia staff member told us that
WCS-Indonesia still wants to work with APP in the future; in fact,
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it still informally advises them as part of a forum including Riau
local governments and the Forestry Department in Riau. However, NGO
statements about how the "tigers of Kampar don't stand a chance"
because of APP's activities, create a charged atmosphere that
impedes NGOs like WCS from fully exploring potential NGO-industry
partnership at the field level. In one example of a past successful
partnership, WWF helped Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), a
competitor of APP in Riau Province, obtain Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) certification.
7. (SBU) APP has a combined pulp, paper and packaging capacity in
Indonesia of more than 7 million tons, according to its Web site.
Involving corporate giants like APP, some conservationists believe,
can only help in tackling Indonesia's environmental challenges.
Given the low base they would be starting from, there is little
downside to collaboration. WCS-Indonesia thinks there are
potentially 200-300 tigers within this area. According to one WCS
expert, professionally-managed concession areas, with more security
and financial resources than many national parks in Sumatra, offer
great possibilities for tiger conservation. He added that, if
companies manage production forestry landscapes to maximize the deer
and wild pig population they can be good tiger habitats, especially
because tigers "don't actually like primary forest very much."