APP earns plaudits for deforestation progress
One of the world's largest paper companies, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), has made 'moderate progress' on its forest conservation efforts, according to an independent investigation by the Rainforest Alliance.
The Alliance was tasked with evaluating APP's Forest Conservation Program (FCP) – created two years ago after the paper company was targeted by Greenpeace for its destructive impact on the forests of Southeast Asia.
"The Rainforest Alliance evaluation found that many building blocks essential for change – policies and standard operating procedures, training and outreach, for example – are in place," said Alliance senior vice president Richard Donovan.
"There is still work to be done in implementing some of those policies and procedures in the field. This is a gap APP must address as it continues to implement its Forest Conservation Policy."
APP said the independent investigation demonstrated a commitment to transparency and provided a valuable perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of its conservation programme.
"We're pleased that the Rainforest Alliance has recognized the progress we are making. We believe today's report shows that our efforts to achieve Zero Deforestation are on the right track," said APP sustainability managing director Aida Greenbury.
"However, our FCP implementation measures are not carved in stone. We must have the courage to continually improve them as we learn lessons from implementation.
VIDEO: Two-year anniversary of APP's Forest Conservation Policy
Greenpeace welcomed the report as a "fair and balanced assessment of just how far APP has come".
The organisation said in a statement: "The report identifies important areas that need to be addressed by APP but Greenpeace believes the company to still be on track to deliver its commitments."
The charity added that its boycott of APP ended in late 2012 and that its official stance on the company was that "Companies choosing to enter into commercial relations with APP should include specific clauses in their supply contract to ensure that APP continues to make measurable progress against meeting its Forest Conservation Policy commitment".
The positive outcome of the exploration will come as a relief to APP after a similar investigation by coalition of Indonesian and International NGOs in January concluded there is "little evidence to date that APP is taking sufficient action to resolve land conflict issues".
APP's Aida Greenbury wrote an op-ed piece for edie in December last year, where she described cutting deforestation as a 'business imperative'.
The full breakdown of APP's policies and implementation can be found here.