Asia Pulp & Paper commits to end Indonesian rainforest destruction

Asia Pulp & Paper commits to end Indonesian rainforest destruction

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the company at the center of a decades-long campaign against its logging activities, committed to end all deforestation of natural forests on Tuesday.

The company published a new "Forest Conservation Policy" on Tuesday committing it to end development of all natural forested areas, including peat forests, improve its peatland management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and work more closely with local communities and other stakeholders.

Crucially, the stated strategy applies to all APP operations and all of its suppliers, as well as "all future expansion" and "any Indonesian fibre utilised by APP's mills elsewhere, including China." In addition, the new strategy will be subject to a series of independent assessments.

APP has in the past published a series of environmental commitments that have been dismissed as "greenwashing" by campaigners, but Greenpeace, which has led many of the protests against the company, welcomed the new strategy.

"We commend APP for making this commitment to end deforestation," said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace's Forest Campaign in Indonesia, adding that the NGO would now be monitoring its progress closely to ensure the commitments are honored. "If APP fully implements its new policies it will mark a dramatic change in direction, after years of deforestation in Indonesia."

Photo of deforestation in Indonesia provided by Aidenvironment via Wikimedia Commons.

Maitar's comments were echoed by Scott Poynton, the executive director of TFT, a nonprofit supply chain consultancy that advised APP on the new strategy.

"APP's commitments are far-reaching," he said. "There is of course a lot of work to be done to implement the policy in its entirety, particularly on the social and community engagement front where conflicts between the company and communities remain. But that work is underway, as are the tactics TFT will use to monitor and transparently report their progress.

"APP's commitments show other producers worldwide -- whether they sell pulp and paper, palm oil, soy or beef -- that it is possible to run a business without destroying humanity's habitat."

APP's commitment represents a major victory for Greenpeace, which has launched a series of high profile campaigns against the company over its logging of rainforested regions in southeast Asia.

The NGO secured a series of victories in recent years, which saw more than 100 companies boycott APP products, including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestlé, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever.

Maitar today called on the Indonesian government to extend a two year moratorium on natural forest felling, which is due to expire in May and step up efforts to "improve enforcement of forestry laws to help companies like APP implement their conservation policies."

He also revealed that Greenpeace has written to the chief executive of Asia Pacific Resources International, the one other global company accused of relying on Indonesian rainforest fiber for its products used by household brands across the world, to ask when his company plans to make a similar commitment to end deforestation.

This article first appeared on BusinessGreen and is reprinted with permission.