The agreement, between Asia Pulp & Paper and the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) - which spearheads conservation efforts on behalf of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry - includes provisions for more coordinated efforts in the areas of infrastructure development for the protection of key species, ongoing measures to successfully manage human-tiger conflict, and further educational initiatives aimed at communities in the areas where the animals are located.
To mark this announcement, a new observation and protection enclosure for tigers was inaugurated in Perawang, Riau province, Sumatra. The new 6x6 meters facility, which was built in cooperation with one of APP's pulpwood suppliers in Riau, PT. Arara Abadi, allows for the protection, care and monitoring of tigers before they are released into the wild. As well as evaluating the tigers' medical wellbeing, conservationists seek to ensure that the tigers are capable of surviving in the jungle before they are released.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by officials from the Ministry of Forestry and local Government, conservationists, senior representatives of the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency, Indonesia Safari Park, The Sumatran Tiger Conservation Foundation (YPHS), as well as PT. Arara Abadi and APP personnel.
The latest tiger to be made ready to be returned to the wild is Bima, a two-year-old male that was rescued in Riau last October. Bima is scheduled to be released in the coming months. While in the observation and protection enclosure, his physical health and wellbeing have been regularly checked by veterinary experts from Taman Safari Indonesia.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in Riau, Ir. Darori, MM, Director General of the Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, said: "This kind of public-private partnership will continue to be essential in supporting the conservation of endangered species in Indonesia. Private sector enterprises need to work hand in hand with Government to help protect the Sumatran tiger, as well as a range of other endangered species."
The importance of public-private partnership in conservation of endangered species is also stressed by Dr. Ir. Bambang Novianto W., MSi, Director of Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Forestry. This partnership is an important step to help ensuring the success of the Government's program to increase the population up to 3% in 2014 and also conserving the Sumatran Tiger in conservation areas (in-situ).
Leading conservationist Bastoni, of the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Foundation (YPHS), said: "As Sumatran tigers are still an extremely endangered species, it is essential that every possible step is taken to protect the welfare of those tigers that are released back into the forest. This observation and protection enclosure will become an important part of the release process for tigers that are rescued and have to be released into the wild."
Aida Greenbury, Managing Director, Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement, APP, said: "Our vision is to support animal conservation programmes in Sumatra and elsewhere by helping to integrate conservation landscapes for the lasting protection of Sumatran tigers and other endangered species. We work closely with our suppliers, the Government and other stakeholders to engage with a wide range of conservation programmes, not just focused on tigers, but on other animals, including orangutans and the Javan rhino."
Tony Sumampau, Director, Indonesia Safari Park said: "It is important that local communities and other members of the wider public understand that tigers like Bima need to be protected before being released, and are not being held for public display. The purpose of the observation and protection enclosure is to carry out the final stages of monitoring and preparation for tigers, to ensure they are in prime condition and can survive by themselves, before being finally released into the wild."
The signing of the MOU is the latest stage in APP's ongoing commitment to the conservation of endangered animal species in Indonesia, especially the Sumatran tiger. In August 2011, APP worked with one of its suppliers, PT Sumber Hijau Permai, and the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Foundation (YPHS) on the successful release into the wild of a tiger named Putri, that had been previously involved in human-tiger conflict.
Asia Pulp & PaperGroup(APP) is a brand umbrella for paper products which are produced by several mills in Indonesia such as PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Tbk, PT Pindo Deli Pulp & Paper Mills, PT Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia Tbk, PT Lontar Papyrus Pulp & Paper Industries, PT Ekamas Fortuna and PT The Univenus. APP is headquartered in Indonesia and markets its product to more than 120 countries. Most of APP's production facilities are Chain-of-Custody certified by LEI and PEFC. APP supports several main conservation initiatives, including a 178,000 hectare Biosphere Reserve in Giam Siak Kecil - Bukit Batu and an area of 106,000 hectare for the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary. Both are located in the province of Riau, Sumatra. Other APP wildlife preservation initiatives include the support of the Kutai Orangutan Program in Kalimantan and the conservation of the Javan Rhino in Ujung Kulon National Park.