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Monthly updates to track APP’s progress on ‘no deforestation’ policy

RAINFOREST in Sumatra.
Rainforest in Sumatra.

The 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, Aida Greenbury, Asia Pulp and Paper’s Managing Director for Sustainability, explained the aim of the reports.

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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