Landscape conservation: The opportunity for companies and supply chains

Sunshine in an Indonesian forest.

This article is sponsored by Asia Pulp & Paper. 

In early February, sustainability experts from many of the world’s most recognizable consumer brands traveled to Phoenix for the GreenBiz 2017 conference. Asia Pulp & Paper was thrilled to be invited to join the conversation, with issues pertinent to our forest commodity business, such as climate change, land conservation and global sustainability sourcing taking center stage. Protecting tropical forests has implications globally, in the oxygen we breathe to the weather we experience — from America through to Indonesia.

Over the course of the three-day event, a recurring theme was the necessity for a wide-scale take-up of a landscape approach to conservation and restoration. Together, Mark Buckley, VP of environmental affairs at Staples and advisory board member of the Belantara Foundation, and I joined a panel discussion focusing on the approach and opportunities for corporates to engage.

Forest protection is not without its challenges, especially in countries such as Indonesia, where in the past restoration has been inhibited by poor engagement among corporations, governments and communities. It was for this reason that Belantara was set up, with seed funding provided by APP. The nonprofit foundation works with communities, civil society, government and businesses to restore 10 priority landscapes in Indonesia.

Importantly, Belantara is able to take a critical and independent view of landscape conservation, taking into consideration the economic development of local communities and the livelihoods of indigenous people, and to engage with all necessary stakeholders to resolve potential conflicts in order to focus on land protection, restoration and conservation.

Landscape conservation undoubtedly will play a leading role in sustainably managing commodity supply chains in the future, and the dialogue and support by many, both in terms of finance and labor, is critical in ensuring success.

Corporations can and should play a role in establishing and maintaining sustainability within their supply chains. Through engaging with local communities, and in partnerships with NGOs, scientists and researchers, they can establish best practices in community strategies, agricultural practices and biodiversity conservation, and in turn demonstrate their commitment as part of their sustainable value proposition.

Ultimately, companies that take engagement to the next level will prosper as sustainable business leaders in the years ahead.