One of the world’s leading pulp and paper producers Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has announced that it is to suspend cutting down natural forests in it pulpwood plantations and concessions from 1st June. The announcement is only for a temporary ban on forest clearance of its own company subsidiaries and its own concessions.
The ban starting from 1st June will last while assessments are undertaken to ensure that future tree felling meets Indonesia’s High Conservation Value Forest policies. The ban will not affect the operations of independent pulpwood suppliers to APP.
The Government of Indonesia has made the protection of natural forests a key element of national policy. For this to work, the private sector organisations also need to take initiatives which go beyond what the law expects of them. The Government supports today’s announcement and hopes other companies will follow APP’s example in this regard.
APP have been moving towards more sustainable forestry practise over the last few years and this suspension of natural forest clearance will ensure that time is allowed for assessments to be undertaken and to help conserve the forest eco-system during the period of examinations.
APP have said that this suspension of activities is the natural next step in its sustainability strategy and they are announcing a move to adopt the internationally recognised standards for High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF).
This next step in sustainability involves the following:
1. With respect to APP owned concessions in Indonesia:
- Effective from 1st June 2012, we will suspend natural forest clearance while HCVF assessments are conducted.
- We have engaged credible experts to conduct HCVF assessments, in accordance with HCV Resource Network best practice. The assessments will be based on a multi-stakeholder approach.
- We will protect all identified HCVF areas as a result of the HCVF assessments.
2. With respect to APP’s independent pulpwood suppliers in Indonesia:
- Given our firm commitments on HCVF, APP expects independent suppliers to comply with our request for HCVF assessments, by 31st December 2014.
- With an international NGO partner, we will engage with our independent suppliers to adopt HCVF assessments.
- We will review and re-evaluate supply agreements where HCVF assessments are not conducted.
APP’s Managing Director of Sustainability, Aida Greenbury, said: “Effective immediately, we are embarking on a bold program to ensure we can offer our customers products with the highest environmental and social integrity, and to ensure delivery of a shared vision for the global community. We are taking account of critical issues raised in our dialogue with NGOs. It is the aim of APP’s policy to exclude HCVF from the supply chain.”
Regarding APP’s future expansion, Ms Greenbury said: “As a business we are always assessing the markets for opportunities. We will ensure that our Natural Forest Policy will apply to all of our current mill operations and any future expansion.”
Robin Mailoa, CEO of Sinar Mas Forestry explained, “We are confident in our ability to embed these policies in our business, but we also acknowledge that success will require the engagement of many stakeholders.”
The commitment comes just days after the Indonesia government announced a ground-breaking multi-billion dollar lawsuit against 16 forestry companies for illegal logging. The USD 226 Billion lawsuit aims to recover not just the cost of illegally logged trees (making up about 4% of the claim) but also losses to forestry ecosystem services, soil degradation and habitat losses.
The Indonesian government has welcomed the suspension of natural forest clearance by APP. Mr Darori, Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, said, “The Government of Indonesia has made the protection of natural forests a key element of national policy. For this to work, the private sector organisations also need to take initiatives which go beyond what the law expects of them. The Government supports today’s announcement and hopes other companies will follow APP’s example in this regard.”
Y.W. Junardy, President of the Indonesian Chapter of the United Nations Global Compact Network, said, “We welcome APP’s strategic step to protect and conserve the forest. As a corporation that is active in the Global Compact movement, this step demonstrates the commitment and efforts of APP in implementing the principles of the United Nation Global Compact, especially the environmental aspect. This commitment is important for the sustainability of business and the environment for the long term.”