April Blooms

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Hostilities between the WWF and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) are not about to cease, but tensions may be lessening slightly. The WWF has announced that it welcomes APRIL’s recently launched Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP). This policy commits APRIL to forest conservation efforts in “areas equal in size to its plantations”. This is quite an undertaking and one that apparently sets a new standard for Indonesian pulp and paper companies. It looks like the WWF reckon that APRIL’s policy is bolder than that of its rival Asian Pulp & Paper (APP). Together APP and APRIL are responsible for mass destruction of huge areas of Indonesian rain forests and habitats.

The complexities of APP’s Sustainability Roadmap and its Forest Protection Policy are beyond the bounds of a humble blog. Suffice to say APP is doing much to make amends for past environmental misdeeds, and seems to have set an example APRIL wants to follow. APRIL’s new policy commits it to a moratorium on clearing forest concessions that have not been independently assessed for their conservation values. Although APRIL’s policy only applies in Indonesia, it also commits the company to engage with other pulp companies in the Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE), APRIL’s owner. These others are Asia Symbol a pulp producer in China, and Sateri which operates in Brazil and China and uses pulp to produce various specialty products, ranging from baby wipes to tyre cords.

APRIL’s new policy also commits it to support a pilot study to develop a common basis for assessing and protecting High Carbon Stock forest and peatlands. If this ever happens and if it has teeth, such a framework will be extremely valuable in Indonesia and elsewhere. An assessment framework provides a model for countries such as Vietnam and Thailand where there are unprotected trees aplenty and where APP and APRIL are turning their voracious gaze.

The bad news is that the policy does not cover commitments to use only plantation wood in the APRIL mills in Indonesia until 2019. This is a long time in logging years. Far better for Indonesia would be a commitment to stop using tropical forests completely. A cynic might think that by 2019 there won’t be enough forest left to worry about and that neither APP or APRIL really give a toss about forest preservation. Sustainability policies are however a necessary part of doing business these days, which is why APP has gone to such lengths to develop its Sustainability Roadmap. Even if APP completely reneges on it, in prompting APRIL to come up with something similar the initiative may have done some good. You can find the APP policies here:

– Laurel Brunner

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