Review on APP’s FCP Progress Update: September 2015

 

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The Forest Trust – Review on APP’s FCP Progress Update: September 2015

 

This is the report by The Forest Trust (TFT) in a new format to replace the previous TFT’s Quarterly Progress Report (earlier progress reports can be viewed here). This report reflects on APP’s progress toward meeting its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) commitments made on February 5th 2013, as part of APP’s Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2020.

TFT will provide 6 monthly overview, feedback, recommendation, as well as opinion in APP’s FCP implementation on the ground. This report covers progress activities undertaken from May 2015 to December 2015 based on APP FCP Progress Update: September 2015. The next report is due in mid-2016.

 

Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plan (ISFMP)

Theoretically, sustainable forest management integrates the principles of environmental, social and economy sustainability in the management of forest plantations. The ISFMP process for APP’s suppliers began after the completion of High Conservation Values (HCV), High Carbon Stock (HCS), Pulpwood Supply, Social Conflict and Peatland assessments in 2014 and early 2015.

“The ISFMP process, developed by APP, is unique in that it considers land use in the context of the wider landscape within which a supplier operates, rather than at the individual concession level. This approach recognizes that land cannot be managed or conserved in isolation from the wider impacts and demands made on it by a variety of different actors.”

A landscape consists not only of interacting biological and geophysical elements but also of people, land uses, infrastructure, social organizations, institutional arrangements, and cultural, spiritual, and utility values. By understanding and taking the landscape approaches, APP recognises the extensive areas where it operates and the complexities within. Also the fact that we all live in integration, not modular, lives. The result, shall APP be succeeded, might be more relevant and revealing – a true sustainable forest management.

The approach also includes extensive stakeholder consultation through the establishment of local task forces. These task forces are designed to involve local stakeholders, including communities, in the land-use decision-making process thus ensuring more sustainable and equitable outcomes which seek to reconcile conservation, development and commercial needs and objectives.

APP has shown its commitment to engage, involving all relevant stakeholders in the ISFMP process. For example, it has done so in the establishment of local task forces in the land-use decision-making process that reconciles conservation, development of commercial needs and objectives. This is positive. It will soon result in integrated and comprehensive land-use planning. Although from a business point of view it could be seen as a burden due to its long process; but APP has demonstrated its commitments, by opting to engage and involve all relevant stakeholders in the ISFMP process.

ISFMP Delivery

Our pulpwood suppliers’ ISFMPs are being developed in stages and have been split according to the main wood fibre regions supplying our pulp mills – Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan. As of August 2015, the process had been initiated for all regions with South Sumatra and Jambi nearing completion.

The APP’s ISFMPs process is still ongoing with target of completion in December 2015. APP has progressing well in the development of ISFMP for each region.

Over the course of the last six months, we have learned a lot but also encountered a number of challenges in the forest management planning process. A recurring pattern throughout the ISFMP development is cases where recommendations are not mutually supportive. For example, where an area has been found to be both a high carbon stock area, as well as an area that the local community would like to develop for their livelihood. In these instances, the relevant ISFMP Task Force has conducted field visits and recommendations for harmonizing the different interests were developed and agreed.

APP has learned a lot in the forest management planning process. One of the lessons learned is to identifying recurring obstacles and seeking solution to resolve it. APP has managed to do so in resolving the recommendations that are not mutually supportive. Stakeholders participation is also shown in the process through the ISFMP Task Force.

In TFT’s opinion, APP has followed logical steps in a responsible forest management process through the ISFMP, completing all necessary and crucial assessments (HCV/peat, HCS and social mapping) and involving all relevant stakeholders. However, APP needs to ensure the consistency in implementing the ISFMP using a proper management system cycle, (Plan, Do, Check, and Action – PDCA).

 

Update on FCP Commitments

 

  • Policy commitment 1 – Maintaining natural forest in our pulpwood suppliers’ concession areas

APP has taken actions to maintain natural forest within APP’s concession areas. In end 2014, APP has started to develop integrated forest protection and security system. Identification of risks was carried out across APP’s concessions and the result is incorporated into risk threat maps. Based on this result, suppliers developed and submitted draft of strategies and action plan to APP. The implementation of protection and security management plans has also started for some suppliers in Riau and the South Sumatra/MUBA regions. Others are still in the process of revising their plans.

APP has shown positive efforts in maintaining natural forest in their suppliers’ concession area. However, over the last few months, recent incidents caused by El Nino (Fires in 2015) have become a wake-up call for all of us. Despite of the effort taken, APP still has not have sufficient ability for adaptation or mitigation. The lessons learned are that APP needs good law governance, strong law enforcement, early detection technology and ability, as well as collaborative effort for prevention and to tackle future incidents.

Until now, APP has taken measures that focuses on collaborative prevention, early detection and rapid response. APP should also encourage good land governance and law enforcement.

 

  • Policy commitment 2 – Peatland management

Theory on peatland best management practices thrives in temperate regions, but is less developed in tropical regions. In other words the theory development in tropical regions is not as fast as in temperate regions. Scientific based information often results in inept decisions, both at land governance and land utilisation levels.

From past practices, it is necessary to take immediate actions to rehabilitate and conserve peatland areas. Other actors throughout the peatland landscape should also implement best management practices with the support of strong and consistent land governance and law enforcement. This might happen through a multi-stakeholder collaboration within the same landscape.

APP incorporates the recommendations of experts into their operations to rehabilitate some peatland areas and implements best practices in other areas.

As a result of progress made, in early August, APP achieved an important milestone in the delivery of its Peatland commitment when it announced its commitment to retire five peatland plantation areas for conservation purposes in two (2) of APP’s supplier concessions. The areas total 7,000 hectares, pending field verification to confirm the extent of peat in those locations.

These five (5) areas include one plantation block in an APP supplier concession near the Kerumutan Wildlife Reserve, Riau province and four (4) plantation blocks in another APP supplier concession bordering the Sembilang national park, South Sumatra province.

The areas for retirement were identified by APP’s Peat Expert Team (PET) to have a significant impact on the neighbouring protected forest areas inside and outside the concessions, including the Sembilang National Park.

Moreover, TFT also sees a one million hectare initiative as potential platform to ensure best management practices is implemented by APP and other actors at landscape level.

 

  • Policy commitment 3 – Social and community engagement

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) & Social Conflict Resolution

It is obvious that the limitation of human resources in resolving conflict (as mediator/facilitator) compared to the number and complexity of the conflicts throughout Indonesia, which evolves from time to time, requires the conflict to be resolved through innovation and extensive stakeholders’ involvement. TFT believes that a more innovative approach is required in a more complex conflict situation with a focus in community empowerment as part of responsible conflict resolution.

The FPIC principle is relatively new to most of the forest operators and experts in Indonesia. Therefore it is very challenging to implement the principle in large and complex areas, such as APP’s operation with a limited number of experts and references available today. However, APP has the courage to remain on the track to implement the FPIC principle despite these challenges.

TFT will continue to support APP in implementing FPIC and responsible social conflict resolution together with relevant stakeholders.

 

  • Policy commitment 4 – Third party suppliers

Wood Supply

TFT, together with Ata Marie Group (AMG), conducted a wood supply study to determine the capability of APP’s current plantations to provide sufficient pulpwood for its three pulp mills year-on-year to 2020. This study had also been independently evaluated by Rainforest Alliance (RA) and concluded as independent and technically robust for the period up to 2020.

The TFT and AMG study emphasised that wood supply forecasts are based on the premise that ‘current practices’ will continue. Based on industry benchmarks, it can be concluded that many of these practices can be improved and would result in substantial increases in future wood supply, beyond current forecasts.

An analysis of potential wood supply increases has been prepared under the assumption that the proposed improvements to management practices are introduced. The analysis indicates that the company can substantially increase wood yield from its current plantation land base through realistically achievable silvicultural and operational improvements.

APP and its partners have commenced to implement these improvement strategies and it should be continuously implemented in order to achieve a sustained increase in pulpwood production and exceed its long-term wood supply requirements.

TFT will continue to monitor these improvement strategies to ensure these are being implemented and provide further recommendations. This is important to ensure that APP has implemented proper improvement while demonstrating its commitment toward zero deforestation commitment.

Supply Chain

APP has developed and implemented Suppliers Evaluation and Risk Assessment (SERA) procedure to ensure all forest-based products (wood, pulpwood, virgin pulp, paper) that enter APP mill have adhered to APP policy. All potential suppliers must gone through a risk assessment before they are to be validated as APP suppliers.

Meanwhile to ensure that fibres are coming from validated suppliers, APP Mill has developed and implemented CoC system and procedure. APP has periodically conducted product tracking test to ensure its origins. Improvement is being made to speed up the tracking of product through guideline development and the use of integrated application.

APP CoC system and procedure has been audited against Woods Legality Verification (VLK) and CoC certification standard (LEI and PEFC) by an independent third party. Next, APP will undergo assessment against FSC standard. TFT has been supporting APP in the preparation.

APP uses “scorecard” with a web based application to monitor the compliance of APP policy and various certification standards include occupational health & safety, environmental and social. These tools are actively used by various elements within APP mills and APP HQ. Scorecard should be periodically reviewed and improved following the updated policy and standard certification, for example, the recent published standard certification in 2015 is ISO 9001 and 14001.

 

Transparency

Transparency is still considered as frightening for many businesses. Some of the reasons are because it means putting them in difficult situations, which invite and/add unnecessary problems. In reality, customers, the media and civil society are expecting transparency.

TFT, together with the members, including APP, sees transparency as an innovative way to make their businesses excellent. Concerns over transparency can sometimes cause difficult situations. These concerns can be managed and slowly reduced if transparency is implemented together. Stakeholders will show appreciation to companies that implement transparency.

For example, the public is fully aware of any activities related to Forest Conservation Policy through APP’s FCP monitoring dashboard and able to submit their concerns and issues through the grievance process. Public can also see the progress updates on FCP implementation. They can even be part of the solutions by getting involved in stakeholders’ forum.