Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), a leading Indonesian fiber, pulp and paper manufacturer, is making significant progress on its unprecedented 1-for-1 commitment to conserve forest areas equaling the size of its concession area.
APRIL’s latest Sustainable Forest Management Policy stated that the company pledges conservation areas that equal the size of its plantations – more than 450,000 hectares. APRIL was the first in its industry to make such a commitment. APRIL also set a 2019 deadline for harvesting mill wood exclusively from renewable plantations.
As extraordinary as it is, APRIL sees the commitment as an integral part of its sustainable forestry business. “It is an enhancement of what we have been doing for many years,” said Praveen Singhavi, president of APRIL.
In 2005, APRIL became the first Indonesian company to voluntarily identify and protect High Conservation Value (HCV) forest land in and around its conservation area. The HCV forest contains one or more of the following: first, highest rainforest biodiversity, such as of endemic and endangered species. Secondly, the forest area could be in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems. Thirdly, it provides basic services of nature in critical situations such as watershed protection or erosion control. And lastly, the HCVF is critical to provide basic needs – such as subsistence or health – of local communities, or critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity.
“We’re now preserving more than 250,000 hectares. Last year we committed to a 20,000 hectare restoration program in Kampar Peninsula,” Praveen said.
He referred to a contiguous peat soil area within Pelalawan District and Siak District in Riau Province. According to a preliminary estimate by WWF-Indonesia, a well-managed Kampar peninsula could be home to as many as 60 tigers, providing a safe haven to a species that sees only 400 to 500 of their kind left in the wild.
Praveen said that APRIL committed to an additional 20,000 hectares in conservation area this year.
“Add all of those achievements together and we are well on our way in reaching our 1-for-1 goal.”
Praveen said that APRIL’s track record in applying best practice sustainable forestry management through a responsible, managed approach provides confidence that such a 1-for-1 goal is reachable.
APRIL is a leading fiber, pulp and paper manufacturer and one of the world’s largest producers of bleached hardwood kraft (BHK) pulp. The company flagship paper brand PaperOne™ is made from 100 percent renewable plantation fiber. It has a global sales and marketing network that distributes its products, which are used for liquid packaging, printing and writing paper, tissues, shopping bags, food packaging, magazines and books products in over 75 countries, which include those with the most stringent environmental requirements.
“Experience, commitment and engagement are the keys,” Praveen said.
“Sustainability is in the company’s DNA. We’ve had a no-burn policy since we began forestry operations in the 1990s. We’ve been protecting HCV forests since 2005 and working closely with neighboring communities,” he said.
In 2002 the company established a pulpwood sourcing and tracking policy creating a chain-of-custody system that ensures all products entering its mills come from legal and verified sources. The company also published its first sustainability report in that year.
Its 2005 HCV policy was implemented on top of rigorous adherence to government land management regulations and extended not only to all land managed by APRIL but also to its supply partners.
APRIL, which manages sustainable forest plantations in Sumatra to supply timber for its pulp and paper mill, pledges to conservation, restoration and protecting HCV forests. The company’s policy places a moratorium on harvest or development activity in any forest areas that have not been assessed for HCV. It will not accept wood into its mill that comes from HCV forest areas.
APRIL’s practices are guided by the principles of the United Nations Global Compact and ISO26000 Social Responsibility Guidance. The company implements stringent chain of custody policies and procedures controlling fibre supply. Its mill operation is engineered to meet European Best Available Technology (BAT) and is certified under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 for quality, environment, and health and safety management systems respectively.
In 2011, APRIL achieved Origins and Legality of Timber (OLB) certification, with assurance from Bureau Veritas for the entire forestry and manufacturing operation. The company also recertified for Sustainable Plantation Forest Management (SPFM) certification by the Lembaga Ekolabel Indonesia (LEI), for 2011-2016.
In 2012, APRIL received Sustainable Production Forest Management (PHPL) and Timber Legality Verification (SVLK) Certification from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, covering its entire manufacturing operations.
And in January, APRIL announced the most ambitious policy in the Indonesia forestry Industry with endorsements from the Indonesian Forestry Minister and Norway’s Ambassador to Indonesia.
APRIL introduced an upgraded Sustainable Forest Management Policy that commits the company to a moratorium on plantation development anywhere that assessments to identify HCV have not been completed. It also put an end to the establishment of new plantations by the end of this year.
Under the policy, APRIL will also double the size of its forest restoration program to 40,000 hectares and strive to support conservation areas equal in size to its plantation areas.
APRIL’s latest forest policy required the company to steadily increase plantation supply between now and 2019. Currently the company supplies its pulp and paper mill with timber from its plantation, combined with harvests from degraded forests with low conservation value as defined by an HCV assessment process. The company still needs supplemental harvest from the natural forest until 2019, APRIL said, to fill a supply gap. APRIL said the gap developed as it slowed plantation development to conduct HCV forest assessments throughout its concessions.
Under the latest Policy, APRIL will expand Restorasi Ekosistem Riau a 10-year, $17 million program to renew 20,265 hectares of degraded forest land on Sumatra’s Kampar Peninsula, a forest restoration program it initiated last May.
The company will start a 20,450-hectare restoration initiative in Pulau Padang, Sumatra. The island is the site of the last APRIL concession to be developed for plantation use.
APRIL’s latest environmental commitment was applauded by Norway, a leader in urging the protection of forests globally to reduce carbon emissions.
“The private sector will play a crucial role in contributing to Indonesia’s goal of reducing deforestation with 80 percent by 2020,” said Norway’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Stig Traavik, in a statement.
“We want to congratulate APRIL on its new Sustainable Forest Management Policy, in particular APRIL’s promise to involve local communities and ensure the environmental integrity of the policy. Openness and independent review will be key for this policy to succeed. We are now eager to see how APRIL will follow up this policy in practice.”
APRIL has also implemented pioneering science-based land and water management practices to maintain or improve ecological values in peat lands. The approach was developed through a three-year collaborative research program with leading global peat, forestry and hydrologic experts and universities.
“We’ve also received the guidance of key stakeholders in areas such as forestry, social engagement and conservation. We’ve now added independent oversight and advice from a Stakeholder Advisory Committee. All of these things make us confident that we will meet our policy commitments,” Praveen said. The Committee provides a level of governance and transparency that is unrivaled in the industry.
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee has met last month for the first time since being created in January to oversee APRIL’s Sustainable Forest Management Policy. The Committee of five independent forest and social experts will track implementation of APRIL’s policy implementation and recommend improvements.
“The creation of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee is a very positive development,” Committee Chairman Joe Lawson said in a statement. “The company’s policy addresses key sustainability issues and our aim is to provide a window into its performance.”
“These commitments are getting a lot of attention,” said Lawson, a veteran of 34 years in forestry and who is also on the Board of Directors of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world’s leading sustainable forest certification group.
“We’ll be watching them closely to make sure the company lives up to them,” he said.
Lawson will be helped by other committee members: Al Azhar, a community leader in Sumatra’s Riau Province and Chief Executive of Lembaga Adat Melayu Riau (Malay Custom Institution of Riau); James Griffiths, Managing Director Forest Solutions Group at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD); Prof. Jeff Sayer, Professor of Development Practice at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia; and Dr. Budi Wardhana, Director of Policy, Sustainability and Transformation at WWF Indonesia.
The Committee acknowledged APRIL’s plan to stop using timber from natural forest by 2019 and urged the company to move more quickly, if possible.
“We will rely on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee to ensure we are living up to our commitments. They will advise us on our successes and where improvements are needed. They will not support a policy that pays lip service to sustainability,” Praveen said.
APRIL Indonesia President Director Kusnan Rahmin said that the company would encounter challenges, in particular in convincing suppliers to meet the company conservation goals. Yet, APRIL does not shy away from taking a strict action.
“Supply partners have to follow the policy of APRIL. It is a must or we will review the partnership,” Kusnan said.
The company realized that its operations must be sustainable. Responsible forestry management is the key whether it is in the company own operations or among our supply partners.
“Our policy is the outgrowth of sustainability practices in place at APRIL for years. Therefore it shouldn’t have significant impact on business performance in the near-term,” Kusnan said.
“Long-term we expect enhanced performance and efficiency through improved sustainability. We also expect to strengthen the trust from the stakeholders that the company is keen to implement SFMP in its concession and long term supply partners’. It will support and sustain Indonesian forestry business,” he said.
APRIL produced 2.8 million tons of pulp in 2012, up 65 percent from 1.7 million tons in 2008. The company produced and sold 0.822 million tons of paper in 2012.
APRIL’s operation in Kerinci, Riau, began in 1995 for commercial pulp production and for commercial paper production in 1998. APRIL’s pulp and paper mill is one of the world’s largest and most modern with a designed capacity of 2.8 million tons per annum.
Social investment, environmental conservation and contribution to economic development are integral components of APRIL’s business values and actions. APRIL, Asia’s second-largest pulp and paper manufacturer, takes pride in its efforts to create long-term shared value in the communities in which it operates by responsibly transforming chosen natural resources into products that improve the quality of life for people wherever we do business.
“The policy is intended to ensure that the community’s voice is heard and that there is mutual benefit from APRIL’s activities. It supports the local economy by ensuring sustainable livelihoods and sustains lifestyles by respecting local customs,” Kusnan said.
In the past five years, forest-based industries including pulp and paper represented around 3.5 percent of Indonesia’s economy, or around $21 billion. The industry also contributed 8.3 percent of manufacturing value-add and provided employment for around 3.76 million people.
APRIL Indonesia is a significant player in the pulp and paper industry. The company employs 5,400 people and creates indirect employment opportunities for around 90,000 people, through its suppliers and other supporting business.
Based in Riau Province in Sumatra, which is a home to 5.5 million people and is Indonesia’s third largest provincial economy, APRIL particularly benefits the local rural economy, where progress is often needed most.
According to a study referenced in APRIL’s 2012 Sustainability Report, the company contributed 6.1 percent of Riau’s GDP between 1999 and 2010.
Kusnan believes that practicing responsible forest management is the pillar in developing a world-class Indonesian forest industry, becoming the part of the solution to the challenges Indonesia is facing in striking the right balance between economic development and environmental management.
The company’s practice of responsible forestry means degraded land is put into use, protecting it from further degradation and providing a permanent solution for deforestation, Kusnan said.
“Watch our progress.”