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Rainforest Alliance’s Evaluation of Asia Pulp & Paper’s Progress to Meet Its Forest Conservation Policy Commitments Released

Moderate progress made, more work to do.

An independent evaluation by the Rainforest Alliance released today reports that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has made moderate progress to meet its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) Commitments, which were announced two years ago.

Early in 2013 APP approached the Rainforest Alliance to conduct an independent evaluation of its progress to meet the four commitments in APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). In addition the Rainforest Alliance identified a further ten (10) forest conservation related statements and a commitment to implement the FCP, which were also evaluated.

The Rainforest Alliance evaluation reports that progress to meet these individual commitments varies, but determines that overall progress has been moderate.

Rainforest Alliance Senior Vice President, Forestry, Richard Z. Donovan said: “In 2013 APP set out an ambitious program for change. The Rainforest Alliance evaluation found that many building blocks essential for change – policies and standard operating procedures, training and outreach, for example – are in place. There is still work to be done in implementing some of those policies and procedures in the field. This is a gap APP must address as it continues to implement its Forest Conservation Policy.”

APP’s Managing Director, Sustainability, Aida Greenbury, said: “We invited the Rainforest Alliance to evaluate our Forest Conservation Policy’s implementation shortly after launch. We recognized that engaging a credible, international organization would increase transparency as well as provide a valuable perspective on our work, allowing us to see where we are performing well and where we needed to improve.

The FCP is an unprecedented initiative – developed by APP, TFT and Greenpeace – to define a new standard and a new business model for achieving Zero Deforestation in the supply chain. We’re pleased that the Rainforest Alliance has recognized the progress we are making. We believe today’s report shows that our efforts to achieve Zero Deforestation are on the right track.

“However, our FCP implementation measures are not carved in stone. We must have the courage to continually improve them as we learn lessons from implementation. The report has highlighted a number of areas which require additional focus. Its findings, along with feedback from other stakeholders, have been used to inform our FCP implementation plan for 2015 and beyond, which we are introducing today.”

The Rainforest Alliance evaluation found that APP had:

  • Halted natural forest clearance by its supplier companies. Natural forest clearance by third parties (not supplier companies), whether due to illegal logging, encroachment or issues of overlapping tenure, is continuing.
  • Halted new canal development on peatland and established a Peatland Expert Team to provide guidance to APP. Best management practices for peatland management and new Standard Operating Procedures to implement them are yet to be developed.
  • Mapped social conflicts and established processes to begin resolving these conflicts. A small proportion of the several hundred conflicts mapped are currently moving through the process and of those, only one pilot social conflict resolution project has been completed.
  • Carried out 38 High Conservation Value and six (6) High Carbon Stock assessments. Some specific recommendations from those assessments have not been implemented. A new process of Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans (ISFMPs) will incorporate the information from these assessments, social mapping and other initiatives. One pilot project ISFMP has started in Jambi, Indonesia, covering three concessions out of 38 that supply APP. Others are being planned. The Jambi ISFMP process was in its very early stages.
  • Stopped all transport to mills of mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) for its own pulp supply by August 31, 2013. As of August 15, 2014 APP pulp mills in Indonesia are receiving only plantation fiber from its supply sources in Indonesia. 525,000m3 of MTH cut before the February 1, 2013 moratorium, but not transported to the mill before the August 31, 2013 cutoff date, remains in concessions.
  • Developed measures to assess its global supply chain using a self assessment scorecard approach for future pulpwood suppliers and ensured existing suppliers meet APP’s Responsible Fibre Procurement and Processing Policy and APP’s Association Procedure. APP has terminated a wood supply contract with one supplier who would not stop harvesting natural forest.
  • Improved its transparency and stakeholder outreach with the establishment of an online APP FCP Dashboard, creation of a Solutions Working Group (4 international NGOs, 1 Indonesian NGO and APP’s advisors are members) and the organization of a number of Focus Group Discussions throughout the concessions to socialize the FCP. APP has invested great energy in increasing its transparency with the international NGO community. In the communities within and nearby the supplier concessions community members expressed a desire for a greater level and more consistent approach to local communication.
  • Begun Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) outreach with communities in the area around the proposed OKI Mill in South Sumatra. APP’s current Standard Operating Procedures related to FPIC limit its application to new developments – either new plantation establishment or new mill development. Field evidence, including interviews with numerous local communities and individuals, indicates that more needs to be done to implement the agreements or action plans, or the principles of FPIC with indigenous peoples and local communities in forestry operations. Concerns remain on social, forest tenure and economic dynamics among NGOs (local, national and international) and in affected communities.

The evaluation is the result of eight months of preparation, field examinations and subsequent analysis of evidence on progress between the time of the announcement of the FCP and August 15, 2014. Twenty-one of the 38 concessions in Indonesia that supply APP with pulpwood fiber were visited during the course of the evaluation. The full report and evaluation details can be found here:

About the Rainforest Alliance Evaluation

APP asked the Rainforest Alliance to conduct an independent evaluation of APP’s progress to meet commitments made in the FCP. Rainforest Alliance and other stakeholders requested the evaluation of additional relevant public statements found in APP’s Sustainability Roadmap – Vision 2020 framework, APP’s 2014 Year 1 Summary of FCP Progress, and public responses to inputs by Greenpeace and the Environmental Paper Network (EPN). These additional statements were integrated into the Performance Indicators that were used as the basis for this evaluation.

It has been conducted using established, independent auditing procedures, including evidence submissions by APP and other observers, field visits in concessions supplying APP, and stakeholder consultations with affected communities, individuals and organizations. The evaluation framework was built on a publicly vetted set of commitments, elements, Performance Indicators (PIs), and Performance Measures (PMs) that were used as a guide for evaluation.

Between May 17 and August 14, 2014, a team of eight evaluators visited 21 APP supplier concessions in five Indonesian provinces to conduct interviews, review documents, maps and reports, and make extensive field observations. A ninth team member analyzed the flow of raw wood fiber into APP’s mills to determine whether there had been any delivery of mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) into the mills after the August 31, 2013 deadline established by APP. The Evaluation Team interviewed many staff employed by APP and the companies that own the concessions that supply APP with fiber, met with residents in many communities and received input from a wide variety of stakeholders.

Vista in italiano

Burning Peruvian forest - photo by Mohsin Kazmi

Forests are falling at an alarming rate.

Each minute, 85 acres are destroyed.