Deforestation for pulp and paper, and palm oil, is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia. If properly implemented, APRIL's pledge will prove to be another major step by business towards protecting Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands.
APRIL's parent company, the Royal Golden Eagle group, also announced that new sustainability policies will be implemented by all other pulp companies in the group, including an end to deforestation. Greenpeace is suspending its campaign to give APRIL and other RGE group companies time to put these new policies into practice.
"We commend APRIL for agreeing to end its deforestation, although we will be watching closely to make sure that today's announcement leads to real change on the ground," said Bustar Maitar, Head of Greenpeace's Forest Campaign in Indonesia.
"Today's commitment from APRIL and the RGE Group is yet more proof that forest protection is the way forward for plantation companies in Indonesia."
APRIL has agreed to a number of new conservation measures, including using the High Carbon Stock Approach to identify and protect forest areas remaining in their concessions. The company has also agreed to protect forested peatlands and has established a Peat Expert Working Group to help it develop international best practice for managing peatlands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Indonesia's peatlands store an estimated 60 billion metric tons of carbon. When peatlands are drained for plantations this carbon is released, and the landscape becomes susceptible to smouldering fires which blanket the region in an annual haze.
APRIL has also agreed to work collaboratively and transparently to resolve its outstanding social conflicts and to support development opportunities for local communities that do not involve deforestation.
APRIL's announcement follows similar decisions by other major players in the pulp and palm oil sectors to protect Indonesia's forests and peatlands. In September, some of the biggest palm oil producers in Indonesia, including APRIL's sister companies Asian Agri and Apical, agreed to end deforestation. Equally, there is growing support from the business community in Indonesia for a development model based on forest protection.
"President Jokowi promised to stop plantation companies damaging the environment or harming communities. Yet even though Indonesia's biggest pulpwood and palm oil companies are moving away from deforestation, the destruction on the ground continues. The government must now act to reform the forest sector so it works for people and the environment," said Maitar.