APRIL group announced on Wednesday that it has stopped harvesting natural forests in Indonesia and will rely on plantations for its pulp and paper products.

The firm, whose products are sold in more than 70 countries around the world, has also released new version of its sustainable forest management policy, earning praise from Indonesian government officials and green groups.

The new conservation measures include using the High Carbon Stock Approach to identify and protect forest areas and delivering conservation areas equal in size to APRIL’s 480,000 ha of plantations. The company has also agreed to protect forested peatlands and has established a Peat Expert Working Group to help it develop best practice.

“This is a major step in our 15-year sustainability journey,” said APRIL president Praveen Singhavi. “This is about elimination of deforestation from our supply chain and builds on our longstanding commitment to conservation.

“We are delivering on conservation, social and economic benefits for Indonesia and a sustainable future for the company and our customers.”

APRIL and rival Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) have both been criticised for the treatment of natural resources in Indonesia, but both companies now have zero-deforestation policies in place. In April last year, APP announced a plan to conserve 1m hectares of forest.

Indonesia’s minister of environment & forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar said: “We congratulate APRIL Groups for achieving such significant progress in sustainable forest management in Indonesia.”

‘Watching closely’

APRIL’s parent company, the Royal Golden Eagle group, has also announced that new sustainability policies will be implemented by all other pulp companies in the group, including an end to deforestation.

Greenpeace welcomed the commitment and has suspended its campaign against April parent-company, the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group.

“We commend APRIL for agreeing to end its deforestation, although we will be watching closely to make sure that today’s announcement leads to real change on the ground,” said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s forest campaign in Indonesia.

“Today’s commitment from APRIL and the RGE Group is yet more proof that forest protection is the way forward for plantation companies in Indonesia.”

Forest sector reform

In July last year it was announced that Indonesia had overtaken Brazil as having the highest rate of deforestation in the world. Between 2000 and 2012 the Southeast Asian nation lost over six million hectares of forest.

Maitar added that despite recent deforestation commitments from palm oil and pulp producers “the destruction on the ground continues”.

“The government must now act to reform the forest sector so it works for people and the environment,” said Maitar.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie