Papua lost 7,000 ha of forests due to pulp and paper companies
Four companies deforested 7,000 hectares for industrial trees in Papua between 2016 to May 2021, analysis by Aidenvironment reveals. The largest deforester was the South Korean Moorim Group that cleared 3,800 hectares of forests during the said period and continued its clearing through 2021. Sumatera Dinamika Utama, a company group connected to Royal Golden Eagle, occupied second place with 1,300 hectares of deforestation. Around 1,900 hectares of deforestation could be attributed to the Modern Group (1,000 hectares) and Medco (900 hectares).
The Moorim Group is a large South Korean paper company. Its 2020 revenue was equivalent to 305 million Euro. Moorim’s subsidiary PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua owns an industrial tree concession of 64,000 hectares in Merauke district of Papua province. Between January to May 2021, it cleared 600 hectares of forest. The deforestation in the period 2016-2020 amounted to 3,200 hectares. The deforestation was detected by overlaying satellite images with forest cover maps of the Indonesian Ministry for Environment and Forestry.
Moorim does not have an explicit no-deforestation policy. Instead, on its official website, the company outlines its strategy to implement “eco-friendly policies in accordance with ‘Low carbon and Green growth’ policy of governments”. For PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua no High Conservation Value or High Carbon Stock assessments have been made publicly available. In January 2020, the company was involved in a social conflict with indigenous communities over lack of compensation for use of customary land.
Despite the continuing deforestation, Moorim holds a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate for its forest management in Korea. As shown in the public summary of the certification report, the FSC did not take the company’s operational concession in Papua into consideration.
According to the most recent Buku Geospasial of Indonesia’s Ministry for Environment and Forestry, there are 1.0 million hectares of industrial tree concessions in Papua, which are all largely covered with old-growth forests. Papua’s forests amount to over 34 million hectares, or 42% of Indonesia’s remaining forests. With diminishing available land elsewhere, it is often feared that Papua will become the next hotspot for palm oil and pulpwood expansion.
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