Greenpeace has launched a challenge to the plantation industry to respond to the devastating scale of the forest fires crisis, set out in a new Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis. The four-step Fire Action Plan aims to bring the fires under control and make sure there is no repeat of this disaster. Greenpeace has also released a new set of photos that show how people are affected by smoke from the fires.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s analysis shows that deforestation and peatland drainage by pulp and palm oil companies is the root cause of the haze crisis. Encouragingly, last week, Indonesian President Widodo promised to address the ongoing fires crisis by protecting peatlands, and by improving governance and law enforcement.
“There can be no question that the root cause of the fires crisis is decades of forest and peatland destruction by pulp and palm oil companies.These fires and the toxic haze will return year after year until plantation companies turn off their bulldozers. Businesses, must demonstrate serious efforts to work together to prevent forest fires by stamping out this reckless destruction and start protecting rainforests and peatlands,” said Teguh Surya, Indonesia Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“The data that we’ve released indicate that the company associated with the most fire hotspots is Asia Pulp & Paper. This is not surprising. Firstly, they are the largest concession holder in Indonesia and have a legacy of deforestation, particularly in the south of Sumatra where a lot of these fires are concentrated. Secondly, they are the only company that has released accurate maps showing where their own, as well as their suppliers concessions are. We cannot tell you how bad the situation is for other companies because none of them have volunteered the same level of information. It makes you wonder, what do they have to hide?”
Transparency is widely regarded as critical to fighting not only forest fires, but corruption and other bad practices associated with Indonesia’s plantation sector. Just last Friday, President Joko Widodo reiterated his intention to publish a comprehensive mapping database, known as the One Map. However, the government has recently refused Greenpeace’s request to make public the latest concession map data for analysis. Companies have released very little information about their land holdings and the concessions that supply them.
The Indonesian government has repeatedly refused to name the companies that it is investigating for their role in the haze crisis. Greenpeace Southeast Asia has therefore published a full list of all concessions in Indonesia where fires have been recorded during the crisis, and the number of fires in each. Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s analysis is based on the best available data, which does not mean that it is complete or fully up-to-date. It is calling on companies to support the President’s One Map initiative by publishing their concession maps and the maps of their suppliers.
“The people of Indonesia and the Southeast Asia region should not have to endure another haze crisis. The pulp and palm oil industries must work together to deliver an immediate, industry-wide ban on forest and peatland development. They must publish their maps and start protecting forests and peatlands. Companies that ignore the warnings and continue to destroy forests and peatlands must be held responsible for fires and haze engulfing Southeast Asia,” said Teguh.
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