Rainforest Action Network Responds to Rainforest Alliance Evaluation of Asia Pulp and Paper’s Progress With Its Forest Conservation Policy Commitments

Third party evaluation finds little evidence of changes on the ground and APP’s “Action Plan” must be implemented, improved, verified and include stakeholder input prior to customers engaging in business with the company


CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, emma@ran.org

San Francisco, CA — On the 2nd anniversary of Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) Forest Conservation Policy commitments (FCP), an evaluation of APP’s progress by the Rainforest Alliance (RA) suggests that the company has put “the building blocks in place but considerable additional work is required to fully implement the FCP commitment.” This finding corresponds to the finding from a report by a coalition of Indonesian and international NGOs published in January that said “Although the company has put a host of building blocks in place to implement its commitments, in most cases, changes have yet to reach the ground… where many practices remain the same as prior to APP’s announcement of its FCP.”

Responding to the release of the Rainforest Alliance evaluation and APP’s Action Plan, Rainforest Action Network’s Lafcadio Cortesi issued the following statement.

“Despite APP’s response to the Rainforest Alliance evaluation in the form of an ‘Action Plan,’ RAN’s conclusion is that it’s still too soon to resume business with APP. APP needs to implement its FCP policy, the new Action Plan and address the findings and gaps found in the evaluation and joint NGO report in a way that demonstrates satisfactory and verifiable positive progress on the ground. 

“For example, Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation finds that there are hundreds of land and social conflicts remaining in APP’s land bank and that resolution agreements have only been reached with one community. Further, the Rainforest Alliance evaluation finds that it is too early to evaluate if APP’s Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans (ISFMPs) will deliver measurable landscape level conservation because none of these plans have been developed or implemented yet. Without these plans – which are the linchpin in APP’s conservation strategy – and without scaling up conflict resolution efforts and effectively involving communities and other key stakeholders in developing conflict resolution action plans and agreements, significant risk remains that APP’s commitments may not be met and have positive impact on the ground. 

“Another troubling and unexpected finding of the RA assessment is that there was widespread and ongoing clearance of remaining natural forests – including High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas – by third parties in ‘every APP supplier concession visited by the Rainforest Alliance.’ Further, ‘Based on field evaluation and interviews, recommendations from the HCV assessments have not been implemented, and HCS area recommendations are not yet in place at the field level. The ISFMPs, which are the delivery mechanism for these recommendations are at a very early stage.’  

“APP needs to stop nickel and diming local communities and the environment. To scale up conflict resolution and prevent further deforestation by third parties taking place in the remaining natural forests in their concessions, the company will need to address land and income equity issues. APP must give back more of the land it is currently using for pulpwood plantations so that some of the main drivers of the deforestation and conflict — namely, lack of land to meet community livelihood needs and failure to address land claims — can be addressed.

“Although APP’s current Action Plan represents a start in addressing core issues and gaps, the Action Plan still lacks specificity and, as with action plans relating to conflict resolution and deforestation by third parties, it fails to involve or incorporate input from affected communities and other key stakeholders.

“There’s still a long way to go before we see satisfactory change on the ground for communities and forests affected by APP’s 30-year legacy of adverse social and environmental practices. To say that there has been ‘moderate progress,’ as Rainforest Alliance has stated in several sections of the evaluation, is to ignore the fact that hundreds of land and social conflicts, as well as significant loss of natural forests, continue in APP’s land bank. It’s simply too soon to tell the extent to which APP will follow through on its social responsibility commitments. And, because the company’s implementation has significant gaps, lacks transparency and is still at an early stage, there is a clear need for continued and ongoing independent monitoring and verification of the company’s performance.

“RAN believes that if investors and customers demand verified performance and results on the ground before resuming business with APP, it will provide powerful motivation for APP to improve and implement its Action Plan and Forest Conservation Policy.”