Fires harm the economy, the environment and most importantly people's lives. This is never acceptable.
Our policy is clear: We do not burn our land. We will disengage any supplier involved in starting fires.
Forest fire poses a serious threat for APP. As a company reliant on supplies of pulpwood, it makes no commercial sense for APP suppliers to start fires in order to clear land. Forest fires destroy plantation wood, and we have already suffered major losses through damage to plantation wood.
Together with our suppliers, we have been working to implement forest fire prevention measures accross our suppliers’ concession areas prior to the dry season. This year’s El-Nino phenomenon, described as the worst since 1996/1997, further increases the difficulty in tackling fire.
APP is fully committed to transparency on forest fire, even though our transparency often opens us up to more investigation. We believe this is the step that needs to be taken in order to start addressing the issue of fire and haze in the region more effectively. APP is committed to being part of the solution to the haze issue, by working with all relevant stakeholders in Indonesia, Singapore and the wider region.
Below, please find a list of Frequently Asked Questions that we often receive in relation to the forest fire and haze issue.
1. Does APP burn to clear land?
All of APP’s suppliers do not use fire to clear land. APP has implemented a Zero Burning Policy since 1996, which is enforced thoughout our entire supply chain. This is further strengthened by the implementation of Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) since February 2013, where APP suppliers no longer open natural forests, and the only harvesting done is on established plantation.
The implementation of FCP is closely monitored by third parties such as The Forest Trust, Independent Observer (Local NGO, academics, governments), and Greenpeace. We also have an FCP Grievance Mechanism in place, and the FCP implementation progress has been evaluated by the Rainforest Alliance. Reports can be found on our FCP implementation website: www.fcpmonitoring.com.
It does not make economical sense for APP suppliers to burn land and endangering their existing plantation. As a pulp and paper company, APP needs the wood to produce pulp and paper. Our suppliers need the wood in order to get revenue.
In fact, in this fire season, we have already suffered major losses financially due to the destruction of plantation wood by forest fire.
APP is also committed to protect natural forests. Conservation areas that are burnt will be restored into natural forests.
2. Isn’t it possible that your suppliers burn some of the undeveloped area to be turned into plantation?
Under the FCP, we are committed to restore burnt conservation area. If a conservation area in our suppliers’ concession areas is burnt, we are committed to restore the area to be natural forest again. The cost of restoration is very high – there is no reason why we would burn forest areas only to restore them again.
3. What measures have you taken to prevent fire from happening in your plantation?
APP has taken significant measures to prevent forest fire:
- Zero Burning Policy is implemented by all suppliers through Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines for fire management. Land clearing by fire is strictly prohibited.
- APP’s suppliers monitor hotspots and firespots daily through fire tower (many of which are equipped with CCTV), satellites NOAA and MODIS TERRA/AQUA, helicopter patrol, surveillance drones, and SMS alerts from the Global Forest Watch (WRI).
- Socialisation and training program to communities located in and around the concession areas regarding forest protection, fire danger, and no burning activities. This socialisation and training program takes place all year long, particularly in areas considered as prone to forest fires.
- Work with the communities to form Community Fire Awareness Program (Masyarakat Peduli Api), and provide training to the members for fire monitoring, fire patrol and early fire suppressions. Currently APP’s suppliers engages with 2,600 members of MPA in 220 villages.
- APP’s suppliers develop a Forest Threat Mapping to prioritise areas to monitor. This map includes mapping of community and land conflict mapping, as fire usually starts in conflict area. APP suppliers also develop an action plan to address the challenges identified in the Forest Threat Mapping.
- Whenever illegal activity, such as illegal logging, illegal encroachment, and land clearance by burning is spotted, APP’s suppliers report it to the authorities for further actions. (See: http://jambi.tribunnews.com/2015/09/01/9-orang-ditangkap-bakar-lahan-konservasi-pt-wks)
- To mitigate fire risk in the peat area, we block canals to maintain water level and implement peatland best practice on ground. (http://news.mongabay.com/2015/08/app-to-clear-plantations-to-restore-peatlands/)
- APP has committed to rehabilitate approximately 7,000 hectares of plantations on peatland back into natural forest.
4. Then, why is there fire in your concession?
No company in the forestry industry is completely isolated in the plantation landscape. Fire can spread very easily from one plantation to another, making it hard to place the blame on who started any fire.
Further, fire is a hugely complex issue, involving the rights of local communities, illegal activity by small enterprises and fundamental complexities over land use rights, maps, ownership and protection. These complexities need to be explored together by all stakeholders in the forestry industry, and focus on the solutions to the cause of fire, in order for this fire issue to be tackled effectively.
Global Forest Watch Fire Analysis, 1st July to 8th October 2015.
Pulpwood plantations, where APP suppliers are part of, represent 16% of fire alerts in Sumatra and Kalimantan. More information at http://fires.globalforestwatch.org
5. What is APP doing to suppress the fire in your concession?
APP and its suppliers have deployed thousands of firefighters who work together with the community, the army and the government agencies to bring the fire under control as soon as possible. The firefighters are also building fire breaks on the ground in an effort to keep the fire from spreading.
The resources for fire fighting include more than 2,900 trained fire fighters, fire suppression helicopters, satellite monitoring via Global Forest Watch, and surveillance drones. In addition, APP’s community engagement programs have to date reached more than 2,600 people across 220 villages in the local area, providing training and equipment for forest fire management personnels, and members of the local communities.
6. How much are you prepared to put in to fight fire in the current season?
Our focus is on fire prevention efforts – this particularly is done through the implementation of the Zero Burning policy, which is later reinforced by Zero Deforestation policy, the landscape approach to forest management and best practice in peat management. In the past 3 years since the implementation of the Zero Deforestation policy, APP has invested close to USD 200 million.
This investment is on top of fire-specific investment on fire detection and response under APP's wider fire prevention strategy, which includes the provision of fire suppression helicopters, satellite monitoring including the SMS system direct to operation team via Global Forest Watch, surveillance drones, and fire response teams formed of 2,900 trained fire fighters. In addition, APP’s community engagement programs have to date reached more than 2,600 people across 220 villages in the local area, providing training and equipment for forest fire management.
7. Who is responsible for the forest fire that currently happens?
Analysis by the WRI and particularly CIFOR as part of its ongoing “Political Economy of Fire” research shows that fire is a hugely complex issue. The available research however indicates that the majority of fires are started either by subsistence “slash and burn” agriculture, or the illegal activities of smallholders interested in opening up areas for agriculture. This tallies with our own experience in tackling the fires that are started on or near our concession areas.
8. What will you do if your supplier is proven guilty of intentionally burning land?
If a supplier were found to have been involved in setting forest fires, our policy is clear and we would disengage that supplier. Thus far no supplier has been proven to be involved. It is premature therefore to make judgements until investigations by relevant authorities are completed.
9. What is your response to the various news that point finger to APP during this fire and haze crisis?
The fire situation is complex and both the Singapore and Indonesia governments and authorities are still investigating the situation. We understand why certain stakeholders are pushing for immediate actions, and we feel the same urgency. However, we maintain that accuracy is just as important in addressing the issue.
We hope that authorities and influencers such as NGOs, consumer groups and media recognize this, and work with us to find solutions to this problem.
10. The National Environment Agency sent a letter to APP requiring further information under the Transboundary Haze Act. What is the current situation?
To clarify, APP received a notice from the National Environment Agency of Singapore, and quickly responded in accordance with their deadline, which is 2nd October. APP went beyond that to invite NEA officials to visit its operations in Indonesia to demonstrate the company’s no burning policy (in operation since 1996) and fire suppression efforts.
11. What is the next step APP is going to take to address the forest fire and haze issue?
APP is committed to working with all relevant authorities to bring this situation, which is devastating to Indonesia, Singapore and the wider region, under control.