Asia Pulp & Paper to temporarily suspend rainforest clearing in Indonesia

mongabay.com
May 16, 2012



Peat draining and large-scale clearance of natural forest by APP wood supplier PT. Ruas Utama Jaya.
Peat draining and large-scale clearance of natural forest by APP wood supplier PT. Ruas Utama Jaya. Eyes of the Forest said the clearing occurred inside APP's Senepis Tiger Sanctuary, but the paper giant says the clearing is in an area that was allocated for conversion -- and signed off by the Indonesian government — in 2008. APP claims the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary -- more than 85 percent of which belongs to another company -- remains intact. © Eyes of the Forest / WWF-Indonesia

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a forestry giant that has been heavily criticized for destroying rainforests and peatlands in Indonesia, will temporarily suspend clearing of natural forest areas until conservation assessments have been conducted.

In a statement issued Tuesday, APP said the moratorium on forest clearing will take effect June 1 for concessions owned outright by its subsidiaries. APP said its "independently owned" pulpwood suppliers will be expected to come into compliance by December 31, 2014. APP had earlier pledged to cease conversion of natural forests by 2015, after missing previous commitments in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

APP called the move "the 'next natural evolution' of its sustainability strategy" and said it aims to adopt "internationally-recognized standards" for assessing High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) areas. It added that the HCVF assessments "will be based on a multi-stakeholder approach" and adhere to "HCV Resource Network best practice".

Once the surveys are complete, APP "will protect all identified HCVF areas as a result of the HCVF assessments."


Greenpeace's anti-APP stunt at Mattel's headquarters on June 8, 2011.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of hectares of eucalyptus and acacia plantations, APP and its suppliers hold concessions to vast areas of forest across Jambi and Riau Provinces on the island of Sumatra. Typically these forest areas would be cleared, with trees used to feed its giant pulp and paper mills, and then planted with fast-growing non-native tree species.
APP will "engage" with its independent suppliers to adopt the HCVF assessment protocol and "review and reevaluate supply agreements where HCVF assessments are not conducted."

APP's announcement appears to be part of a push to stem a recent exodus of major customers. Complaints lodged by green groups and scientists about its forestry practices have cost the paper giant hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. APP has also been accused by authorities in Sumatra of illegal land clearing and criticized by human rights NGOs for social conflict in some of its concession areas.

But APP's new policy wasn't enough to win over its fiercest critic, Greenpeace, which is in the midst of a campaign to reform the forestry's giant's practices and has found evidence of illegal clearing.

"The small print of this latest APP commitment indicates that only a minority of its supply chain is to be included in today’s announcement," Bustar Maitar, Head of Forest Campaign for Greenpeace-Indonesia, told mongabay.com, adding that APP failed to conserve areas previous audits classified as HCVF. "If APP were serious about its commitment to clean their supply chain of natural forest and peatland destruction, it would be easy to require compliance from all its suppliers immediately."

"This announcement is a wasted opportunity. If APP were serious about reform it would address the issues of clearance of natural forests and peatland, as its sister company Golden Agri Resources, has done. By sidestepping these issues APP has just ensured it will continue to lose customers and tarnish the reputation of Indonesia’s forest sector around the world."

Golden Agri Resources (GAR), the Singapore-based palm oil company that owns PT SMART, one of Indonesia's largest palm oil producers, last year signed a comprehensive forest policy that prohibits conversion of land with more than 35 tons of carbon and requires free, prior informed consent (FPIC) in dealing with local communities. GAR, which said the agreement would have an "immaterial" impact on its bottom line, has since seen a big boost in its reputation internationally. The palm oil company had also been targeted by Greenpeace until it established the forest policy.

APP however hasn't take the same tact according to Greenpeace, WWF, and other green groups, which charge it with engaging in an aggressive marketing campaign rather than enacting meaningful reform. A WWF report released late last year chastised APP for allegedly failing to uphold previous conservation commitments.












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CITATION:
mongabay.com (May 16, 2012).

Asia Pulp & Paper to temporarily suspend rainforest clearing in Indonesia.

http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0516-app-forest-moratorium.html