New commitment ‘requires further specifics and is fraught with challenges’

San Francisco, CA – Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), Indonesia's largest pulp and paper company and a long-time target of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), today committed to protect and restore a million hectares of forest across Indonesia.

Responding to today’s announcement, Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network issued the following statement.

“Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) commitment to restore and support the conservation of one million hectares (2.4 million acres) puts the company on ambitious new ground. With its commitment to restore and conserve one million hectares in high value rainforest and peatland landscapes, ensure restoration efforts will respect affected communities’ right to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent and involve stakeholders as an integral part of the process, APP is going beyond what any of its peers have done in Indonesia and perhaps internationally.

When implemented, the commitment should constitute a significant step in addressing APP’s legacy of an estimated two million ha of forest and peatland conversion and loss. APP’s failure to develop a plan to address its legacy of rainforest destruction has been criticized as a major gap in the company’s February 2013 Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) by environmental groups in the EPN’s First Test: APP Performance Targets and Milestones.

As far as I’m aware of, this is a precedent setting commitment, and one which APP can be proud of. The promise is also fraught with uncertainties about what will count towards the target, what approaches will be used and how the progress on the commitment will be implemented and measured, but these are welcome challenges.

With its commitment today, APP is raising the bar on environmental and social responsibility for itself and competitors in Indonesia like APRIL, Toba Pulp Lestari and other companies associated with the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group as well as other pulp and paper companies internationally.

It’s important to remember that the implementation of APP’s restoration and other commitments is something that’s not been done before and will need significant time to develop and implement. With the restoration commitment alone, APP will need to sit down with stakeholders agree to details about where, who, how and when and then carry out these plans with communities, government, other companies and civil society. Only after we’ve seen how this is working in one or more landscapes will independent verification of the company’s performance relating to this commitment be possible.

RAN and others have voiced the need for APP’s performance on implementing its public commitments - including restoration - to be independently verified and satisfactory prior to paper customers considering business with the paper giant. Any business with APP must contractually require independent verification of APP's satisfactory performance on their commitments over the long term and must not supplant demand for recycled or FSC certified products.”

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