APRIL to continue clearing carbon-dense forests it says lack high conservation value.
An excavator piles natural forest logs at a log pond inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province located at 1°0’51″N 102°19’50″E. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace
An Indonesian logging company says that clearing of peat forest on an island off Sumatra is “in line with its Sustainable Forest Management Policy” because the area wasn’t found to be of high conservation value.
In a letter responding to concerns raised by environmental groups, Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) said its forest policy applies to all its concessions, including the Pulau Padang concession where Greenpeace documented deep peat clearance last month. APRIL said an assessment concluded the area lacks high conservation value.
“The Pulau Padang high conservation value forest [HCVF] assessment has been completed,” APRIL told Mongabay.com.”APRIL is operating at Pulau Padang in line with its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, which means operations commenced only after the HCVF assessment was completed. We are operating only on non-HCVF areas.”
“Photos circulated by Greenpeace are all taken of operational areas. These are non-HCVF areas. There is no activity in HCVF areas. HCVF areas are all being conserved. We have voluntarily set aside an additional 1,500 hectares of operating area (non-HCVF area) for further assessment by technical experts from the HCV Resource Network.”
Recent large-scale clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.
While the Greenpeace pictures clearly showed heavy equipment digging canals and knocking over trees in an area of carbon-dense peatland, APRIL says it is currently not bound by a limitation on converting high carbon stock areas.
“We are participating in the development of an industry-accepted methodology of HCS, by initiating a pilot study within our concession area,” states the APRIL letter. “We are now in discussions with experts to develop a multi-stakeholder working group that will help identify industry standards for HCS. Our policy states that APRIL will adopt for new concession areas the best practices in the industry pertaining to HCS if and when relevant standards are
APRIL added that it will continue to clear high carbon stock forests that aren’t found to high conservation value until standards are developed.
Active clearance of peatland forest. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.
The logging giant also said that its policy includes a “1-for-1 commitment”
“We will support conservation of one hectare of land for every hectare under plantation management,” it said.
Environmentalists have heavily criticized APRIL for its forest management practices, which have converted vast areas of rainforests and peatlands into industrial plantations. APRIL has been increasingly isolated since its biggest competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), established a forest conservation policy in February 2013. In late January, APRIL announced a policy of its own that has been widely panned by green groups for falling short of APP’s policy.
APRIL Letter to NGOs – 12 June 2014
To: Andiko (Huma); Patrick Anderson (Forest Peoples Program); Lafcadio Cortesi (Rainforest Action Network); Aidil Fitri (Wahana Bumi Hijau); Hary Oktavian (Scale Up); Rudiansyah Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Jambi); Isnadi Esman (Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau); Emil Kleden (Pusaka).
Thank you for your letter of June 6, 2014. We welcome the views of civil society as
We are pleased to say we have already met in person with a number of your
In the meantime, I would like to address concerns expressed in your letter to APRIL:
Scope of APRIL’s Sustainable Forest Management Policy: Our policy covers all APRIL
Moratorium: The policy mandates a moratorium in areas throughout APRIL’s fibre supply
HCS: We are participating in the development of an industry-accepted methodology of
Mixed Hardwood: Most of the wood entering our mill comes from sustainable
Suppliers: APRIL suppliers must comply with the Sustainable Forest Management
HCV assessments: APRIL develops lands only after HCVF assessments are
Conservation: APRIL’s policy makes a 1-for-1 commitment: we will support conservation
Pulau Padang conflicts: APRIL has taken extraordinary steps to address community
Stakeholder Advisory Committee: As part of APRIL’s broader engagement strategy and
Grievance procedure: We are near completion of a grievance procedure. We will be
Independent monitoring and verification: The Stakeholder Advisory Committee will select
Our Sustainable Forest Management Policy is four months old. We understand your