APP to Retire Peatland Commercial Plantations

PrintAction Staff
August 18, 2015
By PrintAction Staff
Asia Pulp & Paper has committed to what the company describes as the world’s first-ever retirement of commercial plantations on tropical peatland to cut carbon emissions.

The company explains this move, which will retire around 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation, will have a significant impact on climate change because peatland development in Indonesia represents one of the largest terrestrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Retiring these plantation areas, explains Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), will help support the Government of Indonesia’s target of a 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.

The land marked for retirement is spread across five individual acacia (thorntree) plantation areas in Riau and South Sumatra which have been identified as requiring immediate rehabilitation following recommendations from the applied research institute Deltares. In line with APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), a Free and Prior Informed Consent process will be conducted for the five areas, before any retirement proceeds.

“APP’s decision to retire these areas of commercial plantation is an important milestone in the delivery of our Forest Conservation Policy and we believe it is an unprecedented commitment,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director Sustainability, APP. “The retirement of active plantations is not an easy decision for any business to take, but we believe that taking urgent steps to protect remaining areas of peatland forest, as well as reducing and avoiding climate emissions from peatlands, must be a priority. While there is still a long way to go, and we have much to learn, this announcement today represents a major breakthrough.”

APP’s FCP in February 2013 placed an immediate moratorium on all natural forests and new peatland development. As part of this retirement approach, Deltares is working with APP on the largest mapping exercise ever carried out on tropical peatland areas using LiDAR remote sensing technology. LiDAR, deployed from aircraft, allows Deltares to map around one quarter of all Indonesian peatland where APP’s suppliers are located. The area totals 4.5 million hectares, which compares to an area the size of Switzerland or the State of Pennsylvania. The resulting maps will be finalized in 2016.

“APP has a unique opportunity to support peatland forest conservation and emission reduction,” said Dr. Aljosja Hooijer, programme leader at Deltares. “[This] is a first step in a process towards the development of a new model to define best management practices in peatlands. The pioneering approach to collecting LiDAR data has allowed the technology to be deployed at an unprecedented scale economically, and will advance the science of peat and peat management not only in Indonesia, but also globally.”

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