Just over a year after Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) launched its sector-leading Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), which committed to an immediate and permanent cessation of natural forest clearance across its supply chain, the Indonesian paper giant today announced a detailed plan to restore and support the conservation of one million hectares of rainforest across Indonesia.
The initiative was developed with input from WWF and Greenpeace, long vocal opponents of APP’s destructive practices, as well as NGO members of APP’s Solutions Working Group. The commitment, which takes the company well beyond its legal conservation requirements, covers forest approximately equivalent to the total area of plantation from which the company sourced pulp fiber in 2013.
WWF says it cautiously welcomes the initiative and looks forward to working with APP on details of its implementation.
Greenpeace said in its blog that while this news is extremely positive and sets an important precedent, “the size of the challenge involved cannot be underestimated. Forest protection in Indonesia require commitments and follow up not just from one company, significant though this is, but from all those businesses that have expanded into forest areas. It also requires the reform of legislation in Indonesia and a willingness to enforce existing laws — at the moment the situation is so bad that even our national parks, such as Tesso Nilo, are suffering from illegal deforestation for plantations.”
Since the release of its 2020 Sustainability Roadmap in February 2013, APP says it has been working closely with stakeholders to implement the policy, with support from The Forest Trust, and determining how to prioritize restoration of important, biodiverse areas.
Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, said: “Land cannot be conserved or restored in isolation — we believe that by assessing entire landscapes and creating clear, tailor-made objectives and strategies, the maximum possible level of conservation will be achieved, not just for natural forest in our concessions, but for areas around them as well.”
As a first step, APP will work with an NGO coalition to preserve the natural forest in the 30 Hills landscape (Bukit Tigapuluh) in Jambi, Sumatra — a vital habitat for tiger and elephant populations. The company will continue to work with WWF and other stakeholders to develop plans for identified priority landscapes in which the company and its suppliers have commercial, forestry-based operations, which will then be implemented by the company in close collaboration with other relevant players in the landscape.
The initiative involves the protection and restoration of key wildlife corridors, endangered-species habitats, peat swamps and national parks, while working to support the livelihoods of local communities in the following areas:
- Bukit Tigapuluh, Jambi
- Senepis, Riau
- Giam Siak Kecil, Riau
- Kampar Peninsula, Riau
- Kerumutan, Riau
- Muba Berbak Sembilang, Jambi and South Sumatra
- OKI, South Sumatra
- Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan
- Kutai, East Kalimantan
Over the coming months, APP says this commitment will be developed into a more detail time-bound plan that will form part of its Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans (ISFMPs).
APP will also establish an independently administered trust fund to manage and finance these conservation measures in order to ensure their sustainability and viability into the future. The trust fund will receive startup funding from APP, with additional funding raised on an ongoing basis to successfully manage these conservation landscapes.
APP also says it will be creating a multi-stakeholder platform that will include a wide range of national and international NGOs and other institutions to guide the implementation of these conservation and restoration commitments.
While APP’s new initiative marks an important step in halting the rampant destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, similar efforts are also necessary from the palm oil industry, the production of which is the biggest driver of deforestation in the country and other heavily rainforested areas around the world. With a rash of recent zero-deforestation pledges from global consumer goods brands and commitments from palm oil traders Wilmar and GAR to clean up their acts, over half of the world's palm oil is now covered by zero-deforestation pledges — but reforestation is another matter entirely.
“Abandoning deforestation after the damage is done cannot be all that it takes to be considered a responsible player,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodities Market Transformation Program Leader of WWF-Indonesia. “APP’s commitment to undertake conservation and restoration at landscape scale is encouraging, though decisions on how this is done will need to involve local authorities, communities and other stakeholders.”