APP and WWF clash over new forestry assurances
APP's recent announcement about their new High Conservation Value Policies has been immediately challenged by WWF
Submitted by: Vince Collins
Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) has announced its new High Conservation Value Forest policies to evolve APP’s business, including the immediate suspension of natural forest clearance on its own pulpwood plantations in Indonesia. WWF have responded immediately by issuing a press release which states that this new initiative by APP represents very little gains for natural forest and tiger protection in Sumatra, and represents another example of the company’s greenwashing.
APP's announcement states:
Over the past decade, APP claims to have built and implemented a broad-ranging sustainability strategy to preserve critical aspects of Indonesia’s precious natural resources, high conservation areas and biodiversity. Now, in what the Group calls the ‘next natural evolution’ of its sustainability strategy, APP is announcing a move to adopt the internationally- recognized standards for High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF).
APP state that the HCVF policies will be implemented immediately in the following way:
1. With respect to APP owned concessions in Indonesia:
a. Effective from 1st June 2012, we will suspend natural forest clearance while HCVF assessments are conducted.
b. We have engaged credible experts to conduct HCVF assessments, in accordance with HCV Resource Network best practice. The assessments will be based on a multi-stakeholder approach.
c. We will protect all identified HCVF areas as a result of the HCVF assessments.
2. With respect to APP’s independent pulpwood suppliers in Indonesia:
a. Given our firm commitments on HCVF, APP expects independent suppliers to comply with our request for HCVF assessments, by 31 December 2014.
b. With an international NGO partner, we will engage with our independent suppliers to adopt HCVF assessments.
c. We will review and reevaluate supply agreements where HCVF assessments are not conducted.
APP’s Managing Director of Sustainability, Aida Greenbury, said: "Effective immediately, we are embarking on a bold program to ensure we can offer our customers products with the highest environmental and social integrity, and to ensure delivery of a shared vision for the global community. We are taking account of critical issues raised in our dialogue with NGOs. It is the aim of APP’s policy to exclude HCVF from the supply chain." Regarding APP’s future expansion, Ms Greenbury said: "As a business we are always assessing the markets for opportunities. We will ensure that our Natural Forest Policy will apply to all of our current mill operations and any future expansion." "We are confident in our ability to embed these policies in our business, but we also acknowledge that success will require the engagement of many stakeholders." said Robin Mailoa, CEO of Sinar Mas Forestry. "High conservation value forest (HCVF) management is a protocol that stretches beyond our own concessions and needs to be embraced and supported by members of local communities, government, civil societies and by everyone that touches the pulpwood production process."
There has been local support for APP's initiative:
Darori, Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, said: "The Government of Indonesia has made the protection of natural forests a key element of national policy. For this to work, the private sector organizations also need to take initiatives which go beyond what the law expects of them. The Government supports today’s announcement and hopes other companies will follow APP’s example in this regard." Y.W. Junardy, President of the Indonesian Chapter of the United Nations Global Compact Network, said: "We welcome APP's strategic step to protect and conserve the forest. As a corporation that is active in the Global Compact movement, this step demonstrates the commitment and efforts of APP in implementing the principles of the United Nation Global Compact, especially the environmental aspect. This commitment is important for the sustainability of business and the environment for the long term."
APP say they will provide regular reports on its progress against the commitments outlined today on its website: www.asiapulppaper.com
In response to APPS's announcement, WWF's press release states:
In Riau, these are areas that the company must protect anyway. APP said it would stop clearing natural forests on concessions it has been permitted to log. However, an analysis by WWF of concessions held by APP, its joint ventures and its other suppliers, reveals that APP has already cleared most of the natural forest on concessions covered by this announcement. In Riau, out of the estimated 206,412 ha natural forest that is under the control of APP or its affiliates, only 22,000 ha will be immediately affected by this moratorium. 103,849 ha of the remaining natural forests are actually forests that are already designated or by regulation must be protected. Another drawback is that the announcement does not include other logging concessions claimed to be indirectly owned by the company, meaning no significant tracts of natural forest actually will be saved.
"APP once again has chosen to invest in greenwashing instead of meaningful change in the face of increasing and widespread condemnation of its forestry practices," said Nazir Foead of WWF-Indonesia. "Our analysis suggests that this limited moratorium will have little impact, since APP has already cleared 713,383 ha or almost all of the natural forest in its own and affiliated concessions in Riau." If the company really wants to reduce its devastating footprint on Sumatra’s tropical forests, APP needs to immediately issue a moratorium on the use of natural forest fiber by any of its pulp mills.
WWF estimates that in 2011, 44,268 ha of natural forest that was cleared by APP in Riau in which over 50% was done in wood suppliers not managed directly by APP, meaning that they will continue to be cleared as it is not covered by its announced moratorium. APP is responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other company, having pulped an estimated 2 million hectares of tropical forest there. "Only if APP immediately extends this moratorium to cover the full wood supply of all its mills and demonstrates a real commitment to changing its forestry practices, WWF would welcome it as a sign that the company is taking steps to join the ranks of responsible paper companies," said Nazir Foead.