Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which ended natural forest clearance in its supply chain after pressure from nearly 100 of its customers earlier this year, has released the latest update in its "Vision 2020" plan that provides further insight into its new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). Through the new policy, natural forest will be identified through High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments currently underway across all APP land concessions in Indonesia.
The assessments, which are set to be completed early next year, are being undertaken by The Forest Trust (TFT) and independent HCV assessors to determine which parts of APP’s supplier concessions contain natural forest, all of which will be protected.
Earlier this month, the company announced an absolute deadline of August 31, 2013 for all natural forest wood felled prior to February 1, 2013, to have reached its pulp mills. After this date, no natural forest fiber will be allowed to enter APP log yards.
Aida Greenbury, APP's Managing Director of Sustainability, said: “We are making progress and will continue to ensure our business becomes truly sustainable, allowing us to trade strongly in the years that lie ahead. The addition of a fixed deadline for the natural forest wood to reach our mills is a great example of our stakeholder engagement programme in action. The NGO community pointed out that this deadline is necessary and as a result, it has become part of our commitments. ”
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APP has also unveiled a pilot online monitoring dashboard, which gives access to up-to-date technical information relating to the implementation of the FCP. The dashboard enables stakeholders to review progress on the ground and to see moratorium boundary maps, HCV/HCS progress, grievance and verification reports and FCP protocols. APP will be consulting with its stakeholders on the format and content of the final version, which will be launched later this year.
Scott Poynton, Executive Director of TFT, added: “TFT’s work with APP is going as strongly as we had hoped. There have been some issues, but the important thing is that we’re learning from these, and with the help of NGOs, we continue to move the project forward.
“It’s a huge task. There are over 100 people working across 38 concessions spread throughout Indonesia, but we firmly believe that the assessments currently taking place will form the bedrock of APP’s long-term future.”
In the past few months, a number of NGOs have independently reported potential infringements of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (see Greenpeace's response to the accusations). Greenbury addressed these reports by illustrating the company's admirable commitment to continued transparency as it makes the shift to responsible sourcing practices.
“We have committed to investigate all of the issues raised by NGOs and to publish our findings as we seek to improve practices,” Greenbury said. “We are still in the early stages of delivering the FCP and our systems are not yet perfect. Inevitably there will be challenges at first when operating across a huge land area, but let me be clear — our commitment to stop natural forest clearance on February 1st was absolute. There are no planned exceptions. If mistakes do get made we will learn from them and use them to strengthen our systems.”