Indonesia: APP rebrands itself as environmental champion

The Jakarta Post 5 Feb 16;

Giant paper producer Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is rebranding itself as an environmental champion by announcing its successful efforts in forest conservation and peatland restoration.

That comes after more than 100 Singaporean companies last November boycotted products of numerous companies, such as APP, that were accused of allowing fires in their concession areas.

APP sustainability managing director Aida Greenbury on Thursday said the company had conserved 600,000 hectares (ha) of natural forests in the past three years and restored 7,000 ha of peatland since August.

“We are working on a landscape concept of restoration, so it’s not only for our areas, but others as well, because the recent forest and land fires were [the result of] not only one perpetrator, but many,” she said at the launch of the third Forest Conservation Policy report.

The company initiated the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) on Feb. 5, 2013, in response to calls for sustainable business practices.

Some of APP’s raw material suppliers were accused of setting forest fires last year and almost every year for the past 10 years.

However, the company said the fires had not originated in its area but had come from the surroundings. The company added that since 1996 all suppliers practiced non-burning methods to clear land for acacia and eucalyptus trees, which provide the material for paper.

“That’s why to stop future fires we need holistic measures that involve not only APP but all the country’s stakeholders,” Aida said.

The company is currently creating a 1:5,000-scale map of 1-2 million ha of peatland to track conditions not only on its areas, but also others in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

“Once it’s done, it’ll be published for all, so that we can restore peatland together, as this big environmental problem will not be resolved by a single fighter,” she said.

The country currently has no high-resolution map of peatland areas useful for devising a proper restoration strategy.

The company, which has use permits for more than 1 million ha of industrial forest and 600,000 ha of natural forest concessions, all in Sumatra and Kalimantan, also provided US$10 million to set up the Belantara Foundation last December.

Belantara, which means jungle, aims to collect funds from various sources and focuses on empowering tribespeople and locals around concession and conservation areas across the country to be economically sustainable, so that they refrain from using the forest irresponsibly.

All the above efforts are part of the group’s move to improve its image tainted by allegations of environmental destruction in recent years.

Greenpeace recently lauded APP’s environmental measures.

“We have to admit that FCP has shown progress. We’ve noted some real steps, such as the restoration of 7,000 ha of its peatland and its effort to really push suppliers into doing good practices,” the NGO’s forestry campaigner Kiki Taufik said over the phone.

He added that the public was waiting to see the results this year and whether the company could really reduce fires from recurring. (rbk)

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