Potential long-term fiber supply shortage is APP’s business, says Forestry Minister

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Coinciding with this year’s Earth Day (April 22), a dozen NGOs released a report which shed particular light on the high potential for gaps between the need for and availability of plantation fiber to feed Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)'s mills, both those existing as well as its new mill which will be operational by the end of this year.

The situation surrounding APP’s activities has given rise to serious uncertainties and doubts on the part of these NGOs about the company’s future operations, most notably with respect to how APP plans to maintain a long-term supply of plantation fiber that is no longer dependent on fiber from natural forests.

These grave doubts and uncertainties - as detailed in the report which was also released to coincide with the signing of the Paris Agreement - pertain to an alleged lack of transparency from APP in explaining its long-term fiber supply plans, among other issues.

The NGOs also highlight a lack of accountability from the pulp & paper giant in terms of delivering data related to the number of hectares of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and peatlands protected through APP's Forest Conservation Policy, the implementation of which in itself certainly represents a conservation gain.

Responding to the report, Indonesia's Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, said that APP definitely has a business strategy in place in the event of gaps arising in its long-term fiber supply, the likelihood of which seems greater once its new mill is up and running alongside its existing mills.

“What I’d like to make clear is that my ministry doesn’t have any kind of deal with APP to cover potential gaps in its long-term fiber supply plans should such gaps materialize at a later stage. On the contrary, part of APP’s business strategy involves anticipating potential gaps,” the minister told foresthints.news on Wednesday (May 4).

Minister Siti sought to emphasize as strongly as possible that her ministry was playing no part in any anticipatory measures being undertaken concerning any potential gaps in APP's long-term plantation fiber supply, especially when the new OKI mill has begun operating.

“I’m not providing any options whatsoever if APP’s operations lead to a plantation fiber shortage in the future. That’s their business. They’ve certainly got their own business strategy to deal with this, and we won’t be interfering in it.”

When asked for her response to the doubts expressed by the 12 NGOs regarding APP's long-term supply plans, the minister declared that it was up to APP to convince its stakeholders, in particular NGOs, as best it can that it is upholding the transparency requested by these NGOs in relation to the implementation of its forest conservation policy.

“It’s the responsibility of APP to gain the confidence of its stakeholders. APP has its own measures dealing with the level of transparency in applying its forest conservation policy. I want to reiterate that this forms part of APP’s business strategy. Of course, APP needs to reassure its stakeholders that it is standing by its sustainability commitments, and this includes addressing the concerns of these 12 NGOs.”

The minister was keen to add, however, that the government should not be blamed or implicated if APP or any other pulp & paper company ended up being unable to comply with all the sustainability commitments they had announced to the public.