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Phil Covington headshot

Study Confirms APP's Expansion Plans Won't Require Natural Rainforest Pulp


It's been 18 months since Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) announced its Forest Conservation Policy, which included a commitment to zero deforestation. And its September update report carries with it some further positive news about the company's long-term pulp supply chain -- most notably with respect to the planned opening of a third paper mill in OKI district, in South Sumatra, Indonesia.

Concerns have surrounded the opening of the new plant, and whether existing plantation forests would prove to hold sufficient stock to meet the increased demand for pulpwood. Work done by third-party entities, TFT and Ata Marie, which conducted an independent 'Growth and Yield' study, has, according to the company, "confirmed that APP does have sufficient resources to meet the wood demands of the mills," though "one minor gap" in the supply has been identified in 2020, which the company asserts will be addressed.

The gap identified in 2020 can easily be filled, according to APP, by increasing the productivity of plantation operations between now and then. APP's update report states that the TFT/Ata Marie study identified a number of efficiency gains and management improvement practices that, if implemented, could substantially increase the wood yield from the existing land-base of its pulpwood suppliers.

Productivity, which in the forestry context translates to "fiber per hectare," can be enhanced in three key ways, according to the company:

  1. Optimizing mechanical harvesting can minimize wood losses in the supply chain.

  2. The introduction of a species improvement program can improve yields per tree.

  3. Improvements to management systems can be made, including better monitoring.

In the company's press release, Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, stated, "..It is clear that with a harvesting rotation of around five years, improvements made now can bridge that gap by increasing productivity of supplier plantations through improved yield, better tree stock and reduction of waste."

APP's press release quotes TFT's Executive Director Scott Poynton as saying, "We are pleased to be able to reassure everyone that APP and its suppliers have sufficient resource for the company’s 100 percent plantation target." Furthermore, APP says, the Rainforest Alliance, already committed to an independent review of APP's Forest Conservation Policy compliance; it will also evaluate the methodology and conclusions of the new study to verify the findings.

APP's 18-month Forest Conservation Policy update also indicates progress on other key announcements made this year. Augmenting the zero-deforestation commitment, in April of this year APP announced it would support the conservation of 1 million hectares of rainforest in Indonesia. In June, the company held the first of a program of Focus Group Discussions to seek input on this commitment. The first meeting, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, was attended by more than 20 NGOs and civil society groups working within the 10 landscapes identified for conservation. This has been followed by regional discussions focusing on each landscape and a second discussion to obtain input on action plans.

Looking ahead, APP projects that its Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans (ISFMPs) will be ready for implementation in early 2015; those plans will detail how its supplier concessions will be managed sustainably now and into the future. ISFMPs follow on from the work being done on both High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments on 38 supplier concessions -- work that has been in progress since the Forest Conservation Policy was announced in February 2013 and is now nearing completion.

In addition, APP promises best-practice management plans for peatland will be published in the coming months, and that we can expect the Rainforest Alliance evaluation report to by published in early 2015. The Rainforest Alliance report should be a significant milestone whereby customers and NGOs will be able to get an impartial assessment as to how well APP is living up to its commitments since the Forest Conservation Policy was launched 18 months ago.

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Phil Covington headshotPhil Covington

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 transportation, forestry, technology and matters of sustainability in business.

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