Upholding Commitments to No Deforestation and Sustainable Forest Management
The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) and other NGOs released a report titled “Pulping Borneo” and held a press conference on 23 May, 2023.
Various statements and claims were made about APRIL in the report and prior to its publication APRIL had responded to questions from EPN. APRIL provided full and clear facts and evidence in our response, demonstrating that the claims made in the report related to APRIL were baseless.
As a company that’s been striving to uphold sustainable forest management and to advance forest conservation and restoration in Indonesia, APRIL Group is committed to ensuring there is no deforestation in our supply chain and that all commitments made in our Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP 2.0) are fulfilled.
Implementing our policy entails engaging with our fibre suppliers and building their capability to comply with our voluntary commitments. As part of the continuing trust-building with our stakeholders, we have adopted independent oversight of our policy implementation, complemented by annual third-party verification. Since they commenced in 2014, all audit reports have been made publicly available and the scope and remit of the auditors involved has been made clear as relating specifically to APRIL and its suppliers.
We recognize that implementing our commitments is a process of continuous improvement and we value critical feedback and constructive inputs from our stakeholders.
The EPN report includes allegations of deforestation in APRIL’s fibre supply chain referencing past claims regarding APRIL suppliers that have been thoroughly investigated and publicly responded to by APRIL previously.
We stand by our previous statements and take this opportunity to address them again and provide our stakeholders with firm assurances that claims in the report are untrue.
Commitments to No Deforestation
APRIL stands by the No Deforestation commitments we made in 2015 and reaffirms that these apply to all areas where we operate, including our full fibre supply chain.
We have announced publicly that our downstream diversification in paperboard at our operations in Pangkalan Kerinci in Riau Province is fully aligned with our SFMP 2.0 and APRIL2030 commitments announced in November 2020, as well as all legal and regulatory requirements. Fibre supply to meet current and future production capacity will come entirely from plantation fibre, subject to SFMP 2.0 compliance, and will not necessitate or cause any new forest conversion.
APRIL fibre suppliers are subject to strict due diligence standards, compliance monitoring and third-party assurance. During the term of their contract with APRIL, third party suppliers are also subject to monitoring of their compliance with our policies and procedures and are subject to annual assurance by an independent third party to assess compliance with our SFMP 2.0. This includes the identification and reporting of fires. A list of APRIL’s suppliers and concession maps are publicly available on APRIL’s Sustainability Dashboard.
Regarding long-term fibre supply, the company has adopted a target of a 50% gain in fibre plantation productivity by 2030. Over the past three years, we have gained more productivity from the same land bank, posting a 29% increase in fibre yield. As a result of our commitment to R&D, more than 60% of our total plantation base is now on the higher end of our productivity range. Improvements in our production processes for wood conversion have also reduced the amount of fibre required per pulp production ton by up to 10%.
Our growth is based on sustainable intensification, land optimisation and the adoption of precision silviculture techniques. On the production side, efficiencies are generated by the vertical integration of our mill and plantation operations and ongoing R&D in alternative raw materials.
PT Adindo Hutan Lestari and PT Fajar Surya Swadaya
The EPN report repeats past claims regarding the actions of two suppliers, PT Adindo Hutani Lestari and PT Fajar Surya Swadaya. We stand by the published responses we have shared previously with EPN and stakeholders, summarised here:
- PT. Adindo Hutani Lestari (PT. AHL): In 2020, we confirmed, based on evidence from spatial analysis and ground verification, that no deforestation occurred in the areas highlighted by Auriga in its 2020 report, and that there was no breach of our SFMP 2.0 commitments. This is detailed in our comprehensive response to Auriga’s claims.
- PT. Fajar Surya Swadaya (PT. FSS): We confirmed in 2018 that the company was an open market supplier of plantation wood. Supply commenced in June 2017 following completion of an internal due diligence process. APRIL did not purchase and use natural forest wood from this supplier. Our due diligence noted that PT FSS had commissioned Tropenbos International to conduct a High Conservation Value assessment of their concessions in April 2015. This was the basis for plantation development carried out in non-HCV areas in 2016-2017. This is explained further in our detailed response to stakeholders.
Human Rights and Community
APRIL strictly adheres to a human rights policy which requires we respect human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. We operate legally on concession areas licensed by the Government of Indonesia and respectfully and fairly manage any overlapping land claims in line with the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Land claims and progress in resolving land claims and other community disputes are regularly and publicly disclosed by APRIL.
FSC Remedy Process
We remain committed to working with FSC and stakeholders on the development and implementation of our remedy plan, following the FSC’s Remedy Framework, and will continue to work towards ending disassociation.
We invite interested stakeholders to view APRIL’s case page on the FSC website for detail, but in the meantime we can note that in response to the publication of APRIL Group’s acknowledgement of harm letter with FSC, Mr. Kim Carstensen, FSC Managing Director, said he “welcomes the acknowledgement of environmental and social harm from the APRIL Group and the commitment to fully and sincerely engage in the process of remediation.”
Subsequently in December 2020, FSC published a baseline analysis acknowledging that tangible steps were taken by APRIL towards adopting suitable social and environmental values and more responsible business practices, demonstrating transparency and steps towards improving stakeholder engagement.
We will continue to keep stakeholders updated on the progress of this process. We welcome feedback and would be happy to address any further queries from our stakeholders.