APRIL Rejects Assumptions Made in ICIJ Report
- The insinuation in the article that APRIL’s activities contributed to the 2015 fire and haze crisis does not bear scrutiny; APRIL’s fire prevention strategies achieved a significant reduction in the number of fires on its landscape during the worst fire season on record
- In terms of restoration, APRIL continues to implement its US$100 million investment in peatland protection and restoration through its project, Restorasi Ekosistem Riau, in partnership with international NGOs Fauna & Flora International and The Nature Conservancy
- APRIL’s commitment to community development in the areas where it operates has remained consistent for approaching three decades, with significant long-term investment in community healthcare, education and social and economic infrastructure
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has made reference to APRIL’s sustainability credentials in a recent story.
APRIL rejects outright the overall premise of the ICIJ’s article – headlined ‘Leaked Records Reveal Offshore’s Role in Forest Destruction’ – that its financial arrangements have contributed to deforestation and, specifically, the fire and haze crisis that affected Indonesia in 2015.
APRIL also challenges the reporting of the company’s connection to the haze crisis and the omission of any reference to its successful fire prevention efforts, as well as the article’s incomplete characterisation of a community dispute with the Bagan Melibur community on the island of Pulau Pandang. The mediation process used in the dispute and the use of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) principles has been subject of a best practice case study.
Regarding the company’s financial affairs, APRIL complies with all relevant domestic and international laws and regulations in its financial dealings, as part of an overall commitment to good corporate governance and to sustainable business practices. APRIL also meets all tax obligations in the jurisdictions where it operates. As a privately held company, APRIL does not comment publicly on the details of its financing arrangements.
The insinuation in the article that APRIL’s activities directly contributed to the 2015 fire and haze crisis does not bear scrutiny. In fact, APRIL’s fire prevention strategies achieved a significant reduction in the number of fires on its landscape during the worst fire season on record. APRIL’s Fire Free Village Programme and existing fire suppression capability saw a 90% reduction in fires in 2015, ensuring that Pulau Padang and the adjacent Kampar Peninsula remained largely free from the fires which mostly originated from South Sumatra and Kalimantan.
APRIL’s community-level fire prevention strategies, focused on education and capability building at village level, are working and have been independently reviewed and reported upon. The principles of the programme have been adopted through an APRIL-initiated Fire Free Alliance whose membership includes Wilmar, Sime Darby, IOI Group, Musim Mas, IDH and Asian Agri, and NGO, PM Haze.
Regarding the historical issues raised in the article, APRIL has transparently and publicly addressed in the past each of the matters raised, variously through the independent Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), NGO engagement, community engagement, and through public communication, such as on the company’s corporate blog, APRILDialog.com, and its Sustainability Dashboard.
In relation to the land claim issue with Bagan Melibur on the Island of Pulau Padang, this is an ongoing and well-documented mediation that began in 2011 at the instruction of the Ministry of Forestry and resulted in the legal exclusion of areas included in PT. RAPP’s licensed concession areas, in respect of claims made by Bagan Melibur and two other villages. Earlier, PT. RAPP had agreed MoUs with 11 of the 14 villages in the area.
APRIL continues to make progress subject to expert independent review. The implementation of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP), which includes steadfast commitments to no deforestation and no new development on peatland, is subject to the oversight of the SAC, which comprises independent forestry and social experts.
As well as guiding policy implementation, the SAC oversees the independent verification and auditing of progress against our policy goals, most recently conducted by KMPG Performance Registrar Inc.
APRIL continues to implement its US$100 million investment in peatland protection and restoration through its project, Restorasi Ekosistem Riau in partnership with international NGOs Fauna & Flora International and The Nature Conservancy. Restorasi Ekosistem Riau involved the assessment, identification, protection and ongoing management of 130,000 hectares of richly biodiverse peatland forest on the Kampar Peninsula, and a further 20,000 hectares on the Island of Pulau Padang.
Supporting these efforts to restore and protect peatland, an Independent Peat Expert Working Group (IPEWG), established as part of our SFMP, has developed a roadmap for science-based peatland management.
As a result, APRIL’s production/protection model has, through conservation and restoration, protected more than 400,000 ha of forest, while managing 480,000 ha of plantation, drawing it close to its 1-for-1 target, where it will protect one hectare of forest for every hectare of 100% renewable plantation fibre.
APRIL’s commitment to community development in the areas where it operates has remained consistent for approaching three decades, with significant long-term investment in community healthcare, education and social and economic infrastructure.
APRIL remains open to constructive criticism and independent scrutiny, but is also clear and confident in the path it is on. The information summarized above is widely available in the online reports published by the SAC, IPEWG and KPMG, on APRILDialog.com.
We regret that the ICIJ chose not to reference any of these independent sources and chose instead to reply on assumptions. We remain open to media and other stakeholders, and will continue to host interested media to visit our operations to examine our performance against our sustainability commitments first-hand.