Monthly Updates to Track APP’s Progress on “No Deforestation” Policy

The Forest Trust (TFT) will produce monthly updates on Indonesian forestry giant APP’s progress to avoid conversion of natural forests and reduce social conflict with local communities.  Read more below.

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Read more about forest and climate policy in Borneo

0321MON_0763aThe Forest Trust (TFT), the NGO that brokered Asia Pulp & Paper’s no deforestation commitment in February 2013, will produce monthly updates on Indonesian forestry giant progress toward avoiding conversion of natural forests and reducing social conflict with communities. The reports aim to both allay fears among some environmental groups that APP will not respect the commitment and advance the paper producer’s goal of eliminating rainforest and peatland destruction from its supply chain.

TFT published the first update [PDF] this week. The report says that APP and TFT have been meeting with local civil society organizations to explain the policy and discuss the monitoring process. The report notes several other significant developments, including inventorying over 570 wood extraction machines, which are now idle; developing a wood tracking system; inventorying and mapping the location of all stocks of natural forest logs within APP’s supply chain cut before 2013, including over a million cubic meters of fiber; and documenting the “clearance boundaries” for all concessions that were suppling APP with natural forest timber.

The report also says that high conservation value assessments are currently underway for 38 APP suppliers and that APP has funded the acquisition of high resolution SPOT 5 satellite data for the areas from which APP sources fiber.

APP has also set up process for handling complaints as well as addressing conflict.

RAINFOREST in Sumatra.
Rainforest in Sumatra.

In a letter to Mongabay.com, Aida Greenbury, Asia Pulp and Paper’s Managing Director for Sustainability, explained the aim of the reports:

      February 5th this year was probably the most important day in the history of APP. We published our new Forest Conservation Policy, the most significant part of which was the announcement of an immediate end to all natural forest clearance throughout our entire supply chain. This means we are two years ahead of our target date, set out in our Vision 2020’ Sustainability Roadmap, published last June.
      We also announced that all High Conservation Value forests, including those on peatland, would be protected, that a High Carbon Stock Assessment would be undertaken and that the company would adopt best practice rights for indigenous people. Finally, and crucially, all monitoring would be undertaken by independent NGOs.
      We know that the world of sustainability – NGOs, businesses, governments, campaigners and communities – are watching us and are closely monitoring our progress. Our key partner in this is The Forest Trust (TFT), and they have been instrumental in getting us to this point. They are also instrumental in how far and fast we go in implementing our new policy, and have already started work on the ground and in the air to deliver the very considerable amount of data needed. They have committed to producing a monthly report which will cover progress on all three main planks of our policy – HCVF and HCS Forest analysis; peatland management; and social and community engagement. I am pleased to let you know that TFT’s first report is now available and you can access it at www.tft-forests.org, and www.asiapulppaper.com. We welcome your comments, contributions, questions, and criticisms. This is an entirely transparent process for us, and we know we are on a long journey, for which we will need all the support and advice you can give us. TFT’s reports will continue to appear monthly, and we will also provide a comprehensive update, in detail – in June this year.

APP’s policy comes after a long-running campaign by environmentalists over its forestry practices, which often involved clearing natural forests and peatlands for both fiber and the establishment of industrial timber plantations. By one estimate, APP’s paper production since 1984 consumed more than two million hectares of forest. However, APP’s record became an increasing liability in recent years: campaigns by green groups cost it more than 100 major customers. With the toll rising, and the area of natural forest within its supplier concessions dwindling, APP announced its forest conservation policy this past February. The policy was immediately met by skepticism by many groups, but doubts were moderated to a degree by APP’s chief agitator, Greenpeace, suspending its campaign against the paper giant. Greenpeace is now involved with monitoring APP’s compliance with the agreement.

Nonetheless the pact has not allayed all concerns about APP. Earlier this week Greenomics, an Indonesian activist group, issued a report arguing the reason APP signed the agreement was it had already cleared nearly all the non-protected forest within its concessions in Sumatra. Other analysis by Greenpeace and TFT suggest that the policy will spare over 100,000 ha of APP concessions in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The policy also applies to all fiber sourcing going forward, so any future APP expansion anywhere in the world would have to avoid conversion of high conservation and high carbon stock forest.

 

 

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