APRIL Group's concession forest in Riau Province. (Photo Courtesy of APRIL)

When Paper Producers Meet Balance between Environment and Business

FEBRUARY 04, 2021

Jakarta. As demand on a better world rises higher than ever, today’s corporations are increasingly implementing responsible behaviors as they pursue profit-making activities, particularly those who work in the natural resources-based business.

Indonesia, as one of the largest tropical countries, has issued several policies that contributed to the decline of deforestation, with strengthened law enforcement to prevent forest fires and land clearing, and it shows. 

The Riau province, home to extensive pulpwood supply chains, set a record of significant swathes on peat forests in mid-January 2021, the majority of which lie in production forests and conservation areas.

This record is considered to still be quite significant as there remain hundreds of thousands of hectares as a source of carbon and play an important role in addressing the global climate crisis.

Foresthints.news reported landscapes across Riau’s pulpwood supply chains are still vastly peat-covered as of mid-January 2021. 

The Jakarta-based news portal ran a spatial check on USGs Landsat 8 and ESA Sentinel 2 satellite images in Riau’s five major peat hydrologic landscapes. This over-2.76-million-hectare landscape is home to major pulp and paper producers, one of them is APRIL Group.

According to Foresthints.news, 860,000 hectares of natural forests -- almost all of which are peat forests and less than 5 percent mangrove forests -- remained in the said landscapes. This number is nearly 90 percent of the 2019’s total peat forest in the province which reached 950,000 hectares.

“Over 74 percent of these roughly 860,000 hectares consist of production forests, major parts of which are located in ecosystem restoration, logging and pulpwood concessions,” Foresthints.news wrote on Monday.

Over the past years, APRIL has been strengthening their commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2015, the company pledged to conserve a hectare of forest for every hectare of plantation. The progress on this “1-for-1” initiative also seems to be smooth-sailing.

“The fulfillment of this 1-for-1 commitment is currently at 82 percent,” President Director of APRIL’s operating arm Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) Sihol Aritonang told a virtual press conference back in November.

“Over the next few years, we will focus on achieving that 1-for-1 commitment. As of now, we have conserved 360,000 hectares out of the 450,000 hectares of concession lands,” Sihol added.

At the same conference, APRIL launched a decade-long commitment -- dubbed as “APRIL2030” -- to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and save the environment via science-based initiatives. The APRIL2030 comprises four pillars, namely climate positive, thriving landscapes, inclusive progress, and sustainable growth.

On thriving landscapes, APRIL seeks to ramp up investments in wildlife and environment conservation. Their investment in landscape conservation will earn another $1 for every ton of plantation fiber harvested per year. APRIL also aims for zero net loss of conservation and restoration areas. 

In addition, the paper giant is investing in silviculture research and technology innovation to increase the plantation fiber productivity by 50 percent. To advance tropical peatland science, APRIL has recently set up a tropical peatland science hub at the RER Eco-Research Camp on Riau’s Kampar Peninsula.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said Indonesia aims to curb the pace of climate change by reducing emissions from 0.834 to 1,081 gigatonnes. The emission sources come from forestry, agriculture, energy, industry and transportation as well as waste, with the largest proportion in the forestry and energy sectors.

"This emission reduction target is very important and requires hard work from all parties, including the business world."

Nevertheless, the forestry sub sector remains on a positive growth path in the national gross domestic product (GDP). 

Last year, Indonesia forest industry set a positive performance amidst of Covid-19 pandemic, with exports reaching $11.08 billion in 2020, far exceeding than the targeted $7 billion. Although exports declined 4.67 percent year-on-year, this is still quite a feat for the industry in times of an economic downturn.

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