OGAN KOMERING ILIR, Indonesia , Sept. 25, 2020 (Mongabay) -Over the past two decades, much of the forests in Ogan Komering Ilir district in southern Sumatra, Indonesia, have been cleared to make way for vast pulpwood plantations. The acacia and eucalyptus trees grown here are turned into pulp to make paper and related products, and an entire industry has sprung up around these plantations: spanning from the mill that pulps the wood, to the port from where the pulp is sent to other parts of Indonesia and abroad.
At the center of the industry here sits Asia Pulp & Paper, or APP Sinar Mas, whose local subsidiary, PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills, aims to be the largest pulp and paper producer in Asia. It owns the mill and the port, and now plans to upgrade the road linking the two at a cost of 2.8 trillion rupiah ($190 million).
The existing road already cuts through peat and mangrove forests, which constitute an important habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus). The company has promised the upgrades will not require further clearing of these areas, but conservationists have called for the least destructive and invasive construction if the project stands to continue.
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