BSCD Singapore Whitepaper: Landscape Approach to Conserving Forest Areas
At the Responsible Business Forum for Food and Agriculture 2016, held in Jakarta in late April, APRIL Group’s Lucita Jasmin spoke about the company’s contribution to a whitepaper initiated by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Singapore and its partner Syngenta, ‘Efficient Agriculture, Strong Economies in ASEAN: Private Sector Perspectives for Policy Makers.’
Here is a summary of her comments.
“For our chapter, we chose to focus on a critical challenge that in our view also presents one of the greatest opportunities for sustainable development in Indonesia and across ASEAN. This is the protection and conservation of forest resources.
In Indonesia, there are around 50 to 60 million people who rely on forests to support their livelihoods, and around 30 million in the country still live below the poverty line. In the face of such significant economic and social pressures, we’ve witnessed how unmanaged forests are vulnerable to degradation, burning, illegal conversion and other poor agricultural practices.
Our view, borne of more than two decades of ground experience, is that conservation and protection can only happen if there is active management in place. Leaving the forest alone is not a viable option. And the private sector can play a significant role in responsibly managing forests whether for production, conservation and restoration.
Back in my days at the UN Environment Programme, one of the key concepts we advocated with governments is that of decoupling – seeking to de-link growth from further calls on our natural capital. In other words, there can be growth even if we stay within the planet’s safe operating space and regenerative capacity.
The contribution we make in our chapter is to illustrate how forest-based industries in Indonesia can drive this whole shift towards decoupling by balancing production and forest protection and conservation.
The way we do this is by adopting the landscape approach, which for the company is a strategy that integrates the imperatives of conservation, economic growth and social inclusiveness in a holistic framework.
A landscape approach also necessarily means we adopt a broader view of the business case for conservation. By this we mean including the natural capital – such as the ecosystem services that nurture both plantations and the functioning of community life, the biodiversity values, and the carbon stock — in the long-term valuation of the business.
By illustration, our chapter details how fire management is integrated in our landscape approach to conservation and protection. Fire management cannot be achieved in an isolated way. It needs to be part of a confluence of factors:
- First, designing the landscape in a way that the plantations protect the high conservation value areas, and where an effective water level management in the case of peatlands is implemented
- Second, ensuring that the fundamental responsibility of early detection and effective suppression within and outside concession boundaries is delivered on
- And lastly, looking at long term fire prevention by working with communities on land-clearing alternatives that do not involve burning
And this holistic approach has shown very promising results for us in the reduction of fire incidence both in our operational areas and in the communities, during 2015’s worst ever El Nino episode.
Our chapter also offers a number of recommendations to policy makers. The main call, however, is for a stronger, more holistic conservation framework that involves active management and protection from risks of encroachment, degradation and burning; and that integrates the needs and role of the communities.
Finally, ‘Stronger Economies’ in the ASEAN context can only be achieved if there is an aspect of inclusiveness to it. Enabling economic development at the rural level is crucially what will also address our environmental challenges.”
Access the whitepaper including APRIL Group’s contribution at this link.