With a commitment to restore or compensate an area of forests as its plantations , Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) turn the page and start addressing its long history of deforestation and social conflicts in Indonesia. The plan to restore and support the conservation of one million hectares of rainforest across Indonesia together with civil society organizations, was announced today.
After 30 years of operation, in February 2013 APP announced a new “Forest Conservation Policy". The Environmental Paper Networks
(EPN), a global coalition of 122 not-for profit, civil society organizations, responded with a document to identify and address the gaps and weaknesses of their policy. These included the need for due process in ensuring local communities give full and prior-informed consent to use of their land, the need for forest restoration or compensation, closing of loop-holes in the policy regarding forest acquisitions, addressing damage to peat land, and ensuring independent third-party monitoring of progress in implementing the plan.
The commitment is equivalent to the approximate area of plantations operated by APP suppliers in 2013 and thus represents a 1 for 1 approach to addressing the company's legacy. Indonesia's rainforests are some of the most biologically diverse forests on the planet. They provide livelihoods to millions of people, they sustain the last habitats of Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orang-utan, and their peat bogs sequester a massive amount of carbon. These forests however have been experiencing one of the world's highest rates of deforestation due to development of industrial plantations for commodities such as palm oil and pulp and paper.
"APP’s announcement is a significant step forward towards addressing the legacy of its extensive negative impact on forests, peatlands and communities in Indonesia," said Sergio Baffoni, of the European Environmental Paper Network.
"Resolving and compensating for the company's past legacy of environmental and social impacts will require a number of years. Independent third party auditing to verify the implementation of these commitments by APP will help customers and investors to determine the actual progress towards the Performance Milestones in due course. We hope that these milestones can also help to guide action by other pulp and paper companies in Indonesia and elsewhere to address their controversial heritage,” said Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network in North America.
With its announcement, APP's level of commitment shows that it has accepted all elements of "The First Test", a set of Performance Milestones developed by the EPN in September last year (1), to guide the company to end its controversial practices. The Milestones’ scope is not intended as a standard for responsible paper production, but rather as a first step towards activity consistent with the EPN and EEPN Common Vision for sustainable paper production, trade and use (2).
Civl society is now urging Indonesia's second-largest pulp and paper producer APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International), part of the large conglomerate Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE), to also comply with the EPN Milestones.
The Environmental Paper Network is a coalition of 122 not-for profit, civil society organizations from 26 countries including Indonesia who share a Common Vision for a future where paper is produced and used sustainably.