EXCLUSIVE: APP and NGOs at loggerheads over deforestation commitment

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has today hit back at accusations against its controversial zero-deforestation policy, claiming it will protect far more than the 5,000 hectares of forest suggested by NGO's this week.

Speaking to edie today, APP’s managing director of sustainability Aida Greenbury said that if the policy only protected 5,000 hectares of forest the company would not have publicised its moratorium to the extent it has.

On Wednesday, Eyes on the Forest (EoF), a coalition of environmental organisations, including WWF, Jikalahari and Walhi Riau, released analysis which claimed APP’s policy protects “at most 5,000 hectares of natural forest”.

Responding to this, Greenbury said that it was not possible to place a specific amount of hectares that would be protected through the policy until assessments were complete, but added that the 5,000 figure was far lower than anticipated.

According to Greenbury, APP has gone beyond legal requirements by stopping deforestation when in Indonesia it is legal to convert natural forests into other types of plantations until 2015.

APP also received allegations that those within the company’s supply chain had violated the policy after the announcement of its moratorium.

This incited an investigation from APP, through its Grievance Protocol, which resulted in the release of report, in conjunction with The Forest Trust (TFT), which it claims disproves the allegations.

However, WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network Coordinator, Aditya Bayunanda, told edie that the report had in fact confirmed that APP had carried out deforestation after its committment cut-off date.

“APP and TFT’s report actually confirmed that a supplier company, in agreement with APP, had opened up canals to extract timber after the 1 February” said Bayunanda.

“The report confirms the findings of NGO’s that new canals are being dug in the concessions by the suppliers, which directly violates the company’s policy”.

Following the allegations, APP and the TFT started investigating the complaints and, according to Greenbury, invited NGO’s to join the verification process but due to the Easter break last week most were unavailable.

However, Bayunanda said that NGO’s had in fact responded to the invite but said they were not contacted thereafter and that the report is not robust because it did not receive multi-stakeholder verification.

Leigh Stringer

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