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Will Asia Pulp and Paper leave 70,000 hectares of high carbon stock forest inside its suppliers’ concessions in Kalimantan?

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In February 2013, Greenpeace stopped campaigning against Asia Pulp and Paper in Indonesia. The reason was APP’s Forest Conservation Policy that promised to protect all areas of forest and peatlands in its suppliers’ concessions.

APP’s announcement in February was the result of a long Greenpeace campaign, and a deal brokered with TFT. Scott Poynton, TFT’s executive director, said, “APP’s decision marks a turning point for the role of industry in the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forest regions.” There’s a (long) interview with Scott Poynton including some of the background to the APP no more deforestation announcement here.

As well as TFT’s regular update reports, Greenpeace is also keeping an eye on APP’s progress. In October 2013, Greenpeace put out a progress review of APP’s forest Conservation Policy. Greenpeace concluded that,

[APP] is serious about its FCP plans and its key senior staff are genuinely committed to driving the delivery of these new commitments. The risk of APP again reneging on its promises appears limited at this time.

Greenpeace notes that APP cleared 140 hectares of forest in breach of the Forest Conservation Policy, but points out that this is a huge improvement compared to the thousands of hectares that APP’s suppliers were clearing every month before February 2013.

As a result of NGO campaigns, several of APP’s customers stopped doing business with APP. Some of these have contacted Greenpeace asking whether they should now re-engage with APP. Greenpeace’s response is to caution that,

any company intending to resume any trade with APP must apply strict conditions to commercial contracts requiring continued progress be made against the FCP and those outstanding policy issues discussed in this review (eg forest conservation/restoration).

APP’s Forest Conservation Policy applies not only to current pulpwood suppliers but also to future suppliers. This is important given APP’s expansion plans.

Greenpeace welcomes APP’s decision to develop a procedure to address how the FCP is applied to ‘future pulpwood suppliers’ – this is required to ensure that APP is not associated, directly or indirectly, with companies engaged in deforestation or in breach of its FCP. APP is in the process of finalising a draft ‘Association Procedure’ and will then seek input from stakeholders.

In this context, Greenomics Indonesia has put out a report looking at four concessions, three in East Kalimantan (PT Acacia Andalan Utama, PT Kelawit Wana Lestari, and PT Cahaya Mitra Wiratama) and one in West Kalimantan (PT Bumi Mekar Hijau), that will in future supply raw material to APP.

Greenomics points out that,

The real battle for the implementation of APP’s FCP [Forest Conservation Policy] as part of the effort to save HCS [high carbon stock] areas will come when APP starts to operate new concessions.

High carbon stock is defined as land with 35 tons of carbon above ground biomass.

Greenomics Indonesia analysed legal documents produced by the four future APP suppliers and data from USGS Landsat, Google Earth and Wetlands International to calculate the area of high carbon stock forest in the concessions. Greenomics Indonesia calculates that 69,873 hectares out of a total area of 93,525 hectares is high carbon stock old scrub or secondary forest. The concessionaires plan to clear at total area of 76,949 hectares of their concessions to establish industrial tree plantations:

Based on the case studies on four of APP’s future pulpwood suppliers it is clear that up to 84% of the area that has been targeted for clearance in the operational plans of the four companies owned by the Sinar Mas Group (APP/Sinar Mas Forestry) should not be cleared but should rather be maintained as HCS areas.

Greenomics Indonesia asks, “Is APP willing to do this?” Greenomics Indonesia recommends that companies should wait until APP issues a “zero deforestation map” for its future pulpwood suppliers before re-engaging with APP.

In a response to Greenomics Indonesia’s report, Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, told mongabay.com that,

Our Forest Conservation Policy applies to all of our suppliers in Indonesia, and covers all future expansion. This means that no plantation development will take place unless HCV [high conservation value] and HCS assessments have first been carried out to identify natural forest and important habitat, which will then be protected. This applies to all of our suppliers’ concessions including those highlighted by the recent report.

Greenbury’s response sounds reassuring, but there is no guarantee that APP’s high carbon stock assessment will match Greenomics Indonesia’s analysis. And the only way anyone will know is if the assessment process is transparent.

APP has set up a “monitoring dashboard” on its website. In its progress review, Greenpeace recommends that assessments of APP’s suppliers should be made available via the dashboard:

Greenpeace shares the view of other NGOs that the full HCV and other conservation assessments should be shared with relevant stakeholders in the interests of transparency. Greenpeace welcomes APP’s commitment to do this but recommends that APP makes these assessments available on its dashboard website.

This needs to apply to assessments of future suppliers, as well as the 38 current pulpwood suppliers covered under the Forest Conservation Policy.
 


PHOTO Credit: APP’s Indah Kiat pulp mill in Sumatra, Greenpeace.
 

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  1. When will APP, APRIL and their suppliers not only stop draining peat but permanently block their drains? Is this not of paramount importance – given the consequent greenhouse gas emissions? Drains might adversely affect the peat dome up to two kilometres away – seriously damaging the ecosystem other than in their concessions.

    High Carbon Stock/Store in the current context relates to above ground carbon rather than above and below ground – and to that extent the terminology tends to be misleading.

    Is it not against Indonesian law to clear any land on peat soil deeper than would cause negligible harm – the actual depth being measured not at places known to be shallow but where representative of the corresponding ecosystem?

  2. There is no correlation for any particular site between carbon stock in the early part of the 21st century and the biological conservation value of that site. “Biodiversity” correlates primarily with a combination of (most important) site soil characteristics,altitude, mean annual rainfall amount and pattern, and geographical position in relation to regional characteristics. The APP, Greenpeace, TFT achievement is remarkable and I would not seek in any way to adversely criticise it. The point is, however, we should be wary of assuming that there will be an automatic major positive effect on biodiversity conservation, and especially on rare and endangered species, which tend to be now in areas where forest has been almost entirely lost or degraded.