Dr. Moore, chairman and chief scientist at Greenspirit Strategies, led a team of three experts into the rainforest with the mission of providing a first-hand assessment of numerous recent allegations leveled by environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) against one of the largest paper companies in the world. Before taking on the assignment, Dr. Moore insisted his team be granted open and unobstructed access to all APP facilities, pulpwood producer concessions and records, as well as to interview any employees, community leaders and local stakeholders of their choosing. On his return, he noted that APP's approach to plantation management goes beyond national, regional and global environmental, social and sustainability standards and creates a model that many companies in the developing world are working to achieve.
"We read the NGO reports with great interest, but once we were out in the field we saw some truly unexpected things that people never read about. We found hospitals and schools that wouldn't exist today without APP's investment. We met community leaders who told us about job training programs and initiatives to empower women. We met conservation experts who showed us new programs designed to help increase the Sumatran tiger population. And we saw innovative world-class technology and science that many would never expect to find deep in the Indonesian rainforest," Dr. Moore said.
The team also saw some things that weren't a total surprise, according to Dr. Moore: "We witnessed many instances of widespread deforestation, most notably non-industrial deforestation that is a clear result of subsistence agriculture. And, of course, we saw poverty, both in cities and in outlying rural areas. Most importantly, we also saw first-hand how closely connected these two issues really are. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is right. Poverty alleviation is where we really need to wage the war against deforestation."
The Greenspirit Strategies team reported finding the greatest deforestation in areas where there is no private investment in community and economic development programs, and where there is no active sustainable forestry management and private-sector protection of the rainforests. The report also details a range of efforts APP is making toward sustainable forest management programs.
First-hand observations and conversations with rural village leaders show that APP's poverty alleviation programs - including jobs training, school construction, clean water, aquaculture and others - create economic opportunities and contribute to a higher quality of life, which have a direct effect on reducing deforestation.
Large-scale biodiversity preservation in the region protects critical high value conservation forest and is essential to supporting the survival of native wildlife species. One well-known conservationist singled out APP for supporting critical Sumatran tiger preservation work when NGO financial support wasn't available.
The company's research operations have bred one of the world's fastest-growing trees, which produces more wood fiber faster. This reduces the amount of land needed to grow pulpwood for paper production.
"We spoke with a number of local villagers in and around APP's plantation. It was very clear that APP makes a positive impact through creating jobs and helping to establish communities," said Moore. "I won't say APP is perfect. There is a lot more work that can and should be done, but I have no doubt that without their investment, and without their sustainability efforts, illegal logging and deforestation would increase."
The Greenspirit Strategies team included Moore, as well as President and CEO Tom Tevlin and Senior Vice President Trevor Figueiredo. The team interviewed APP employees and community leaders and took both aerial and land tours of plantation forestry concessions where fiber is sourced, APP mills and surrounding national parklands.
The team's assessment states APP and its pulpwood suppliers have firmly grounded their operations on environmental, social and economic values - the three pillars of sustainability - with substantial efforts being made to help people living in rural areas around APP operations, reduce illegal encroachment and habitat destruction, and focus on sustainable forest management. The Greenspirit Strategies team also found APP's operations fully comply with national and provincial regulations where it operates.
"Environmental organizations tend to look at the developing world with blinders, ignoring the big picture," said Moore. "Companies like APP fund and manage the large scale programs needed to reduce poverty and help preserve the natural forest. This is the issue we need to put our collective efforts behind, not boycotting Indonesian companies that in our view are going to great lengths to build sustainable businesses while contributing to the solution of Indonesia's deforestation challenge."
To read the Greenspirit Strategies report in full, please visit:http://www.scribd.com/asiapulppaper.
To view video of Moore discussing these issues and the report, please visit:http://www.youtube.com/asiapulpandpaper.