APP exits plantations to protect tropical peatlands
Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) is committing to retire around 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation areas to protect threatened carbon-rich peatlands, the first time that plantations on tropical peatland have been retired for conservation purposes worldwide.
The land marked for retirement is spread across five individual acacia plantation areas in Riau and South Sumatra which have been identified as requiring immediate rehabilitation following recommendations from the applied research institute Deltares.
The announcement is part of APP’s commitment to establish a science-based landscape approach for best practice peatland management that can be used by the Indonesian Government and plantation companies. It builds on the conservation pledges in the company’s Forest Conservation Policy, which placed an immediate moratorium on all natural forests and new peatland development in February 2013.
Peatland development in Indonesia represents one of the single largest terrestrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the world. Retiring these plantation areas will help support the Government of Indonesia’s target of a 26% reduction in emissions by 2020, says APP.
Aida Greenbury, managing director sustainability, APP commented: “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 represents a major breakthrough.”
Greenpeace described the news as a "potential game changer for the future of Indonesia’s peatland landscapes and tangible action to tackle climate change".