Photo Essay: Helicopter Flyover of Sumatran Biosphere Reserve and APP Plantations

TriplePundit’s Phil Covington has just returned from a trip to Indonesia to look at deforestation issues and the sustainable turnaround of Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the world’s largest paper and pulp companies. Follow along here.

3 year old trees on the plantation. APP plants Acacia and Eucalyptus trees in 5 year harvesting cyclesThe following photo essay was created during my visit to Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) Perawang paper mill and plantation forests in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Most of these photos were taken during a helicopter flyover – the trip circumnavigating APP’s plantation production forests, private farmlands nearby, government reserve land, and APP’s Giam Siak Kecil – Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve. Together, these distinct areas form a contiguous region of 705,271 hectares.

The Biosphere reserve (178,722 ha) includes a concession area of natural forest belonging to APP, which the company will NOT convert to plantation forest, and which sits between two government wildlife reserves; effectively joining them together. The biosphere, forming a so-called “core area” of natural forest, is surrounded by “buffer zones.” The buffer zones are comprised of forest plantations managed by APP, which are themselves surrounded by “transition areas,” comprised of privately managed agricultural cultivations and human settlements.

The concentric-circle-like pattern formed by the core, buffer and transition zones, constitutes a possible model of natural forest protection; the natural forest core area is effectively isolated from illegal logging and agricultural practices, since the buffer and transition zones limit access. Additionally, as APP manages and polices the plantation land of the buffer zone surrounding the core, resources exist to protect the forest from illegal activity. On the other hand, parts of the government-designated reserves are at greater risk of ongoing degradation – as some of the pictures show – since the government lacks resources to rigorously keep illegal practices at bay at all times.

(Disclosure – travel and accommodations were covered by APP – all pictures are my own.) 

Phil Covington holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. In the past, he spent 16 years in the freight transportation and logistics industry. Today, Phil's writing focuses on electric vehicles and sustainable business matters in general. Twitter: @PhilCovBlog