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Asia Pulp & Paper pledges to conserve and restore Indonesian Forest – A quick Q&A with Aida Greenbury

Aida Greenbury

There are some impressive headlines being bandied about this morning. has reported that:

The company, Asia Pulp and Paper (also known as Sinar Mas Forestry) itself has a statement out here: 

APP to support the protection and restoration of one million hectares of forest in Indonesia

Sounds like a big deal, doesn’t it? 
Here’s the background, in case you’ve been living in an isolated non-wifi enabled cave for the last decade.

So this morning, up early and scanning the headlines, I saw all this, and put five questions to Aida Greenbury, sustainability boss at Asia Pulp & Paper. 
Here they are, in all their glory (!) and with her responses. Worth a read, I’d say: 
1) This all sounds rather ambitious and large scale. But what’s this new announcement all about then? Give us a brief run down of what it means for you, and forest protection.
It is ambitious and it’s important that people understand just how large the scale is. The area we are talking about is over six times the size of London. There are three reasons why 1 million hectares is the area we have defined for restoration and protection. One is that this is the equivalent of the total area of plantation from which we sourced pulp fibre last year. 
The second is that based on input from NGOs, it is the approximate area of land in the ten priority areas we have identified that we believe require restoration and conservation. And the third is successful rainforest restoration can only really be managed on a landscape scale.
Saving what’s left is a good idea
2) Why this, why now?
In little over a year, we have introduced an effective moratorium on natural forest clearance, we have carried out all of our HCV assessment field work, our HCS assessments are on track, we have recruited a team to look at peatland management and we have made considerable progress on introducing processes to address social conflicts. 
It is therefore the next logical step that, with all the information gathered from these processes, we can now design an ecosystem restoration and conservation initiative that is meaningful and sustainable. 
3) What’s the difference between protection and restoration, seems a pretty important distinction no? What’s the split?
Protection is the conservation of existing natural forests found in concessions or national parks for example, which include HCV and HCS areas. Within our suppliers’ concessions, our assessments will tell us exactly where these are. 
Restoration is where we select degraded landscapes that for many reasons are appropriate for the re-introduction of natural forest. We can’t be specific as to the split at the moment but this will emerge in the detailed planning as we move through the coming year.
4) NGO critics such as WWF have cautiously welcomed this. How do you plan to communicate this plan to customers, current and past?
Media exposure worldwide is already happening, but of course we communicate with customers past and present all the time, directly, and that is what we are doing now. Just as with the FCP, this initiative will be carried out transparently and mechanisms will be included to allow interested stakeholders to monitor progress including using our online monitoring dashboard.
5) How about Government? Are there concerns from them about your role versus theirs?
There are no concerns – in fact our initiative was welcomed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry at our launch event in Jakarta on Monday. 
As we have often pointed out, initiatives like this require the participation of a great many stakeholders, from the private and public sectors, and we intend to work closely with both groups to implement our plans.
Further reading: