NGOs still not convinced by APPs long-term fiber supply plans

JAKARTA ( - A newly-released report by 12 international and Indonesian NGOs continues to request clarity as to the long-term fiber supply plans of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)'s existing and new mills.

The report demonstrates that APP, one of the world's largest pulp and paper producers, has been unable to convince NGOs that its operations will not pose a significant risk to natural forests and peatlands in the future, especially once its new mill begins operations later this year.

The report urges APP to release credible and verifiable long-term fiber supply plans as soon as possible for its new mill, the OKI mill located in South Sumatra, as well as its existing mills.

On top of this, the NGOs also appeal for APP to reveal key information about which risks may affect the productivity and sustainability of the pulpwood plantation concessions that will be supplying plantation fiber in the long-term to APP's mills, both new and old.

These appeals have been growing increasingly loud, in particular since the 2015 peat fires which burned almost 295 thousand hectares of APP-linked concessions situated in South Sumatra, nearly 90 thousand hectares of which were acacia planted blocks.

It is truly remarkable that APP can build one of the worlds largest pulp mills, with a capital investment approaching US$ 3.0 billion, without releasing a detailed long-term wood supply plan for public review and independent verification," Christopher Barr of Woods & Wayside International, told in an email statement (Apr 21).

Chris, as he is known, pointed out that, while APP claims to be showing unprecedented transparency, it has yet to disclose critical details about where the OKI mill will source the wood fiber it needs to operate at projected pulp capacity levels, especially if the mills capacity is 2.8 million tons per year.

These concerns seem justified, as even if APP's established planted area in South Sumatra experiences moderate - or even high - growth, it is thought that the company will still not have enough plantation fiber to feed the OKI mill with its potential production capacity of 2.8 million tons per year.

The report shows that even under a high-growth scenario, APPs established planted area in South Sumatra falls over 200,000 hectares (net) short of what OKI mill will need to operate at 2.8 million tons per year. And if the plantations achieve only medium growth, the existing planted area will likely fall short of what OKI mill needs by over 340,000 hectares, Chris, a longstanding observer of APPs operations, explained.

In a press release responding to the report, the pulp and paper giant emphasized that it remained committed to implementing its forest conservation policy, stressing that it would not be developing any new pulpwood plantations in High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests and peatlands.

However, on exactly this point, one of the recommendations included in the report is that APP be transparent in explaining, among other things, how many HCV, HCS and peatland areas, which are not allowed to be developed, are located in pulpwood concessions belonging to its suppliers, including those areas afflicted by the massive 2015 land and forest fires. The report goes even further, asking APP to reveal this information to stakeholders without delay, something APP has failed to do thus far.

Meanwhile, in response to concerns that it will lack plantation fiber for feeding its OKI mill, APP declared that it always matches pulp production to the availability of fiber supply.