APRIL ramps up peatland restoration with $100m investment

Pulp and paper manufacturer APRIL Group has unveiled a new $100m investment into conservation and restoration activities in Indonesia, which will see the Group's peatland restoration activities double to 150,000 hectares across the country.

A new commitment to the Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) programme – believed to be the biggest private sector investment into a single eco-restoration project in Indonesia – will include an enhanced programme of restoration, management and protection of what has become one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world.

APRIL Group shareholder and REG director Anderson Tanoto said: “The global community has an extraordinary opportunity at COP 21 in Paris to make a difference for the future. This investment indicates our broader business case for restoration which encompasses the value of the ecosystem services and the need to have an inclusive approach with the community.

“As we learn and evolve our approach, we continue to deliver environmental benefits, economic opportunity through jobs and infrastructure, as well as social progress for local communities.”

Forest fires

APRIL Group now accounts for 400,000 hectares, split between restoration and conservation, of forests in Indonesia – an area almost six times the size of Singapore. This has been achieved in part through a ‘one-for-one’ goal of planting a new tree for every one that it protects – a scheme that has ensured deforestation was eliminated from the group’s supply chain four years ahead of schedule.

The broader RER programme, established in 2013 in partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local NGO Bidara, has seen areas largely protected from the fire and haze season, which has been one of the worst to hit Southeast Asia in recent times.

By employing a four-phase model of protection, assessment, restoration and management, APRIL has been able to rejuvenate previously damaged areas of forest and peatland. The Group’s designated area of forestry is located among Kampar’s tropical forest, which supports endangered wildlife but is prone to huge forest fires.

NASA satellites have already detected more than 130,000 fire hotspots across Indonesia in 2015 alone. The emissions from the fires are so big that they exceed the annual emissions from major economies such the UK and Japan.

Fauna & Flora International’s Asia-Pacific regional director Dr Tony Whitten said: “The partners involved in the RER project hope that it will be a living, working blueprint — an evolving example of what other public and private sector organisations can achieve more broadly through strong partnerships and bold vision.”

Deforestation at COP21

This week, many of the world’s leaders are gathered in Paris as part of the COP21 climate negotiations to discuss the role of forests within the broader climate debate.

In an exclusive blog for edie today (2 December), Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) – the third-largest pulp and paper producer in the world – spoke of the need for a global implementation of policies to help the preservation of forests and peatlands.

“This is a critical moment,” the blog states. “We need them to agree a shared vision, matched by commitments, so that all of us – the industry, governments, civil society and consumers – can work together to halt and reverse the demise of the world’s precious forests.

“We must seize the opportunity of COP21 to implement strong policies which prevent recent events from repeating themselves.”

Matt Mace

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