The fight against climate change, conserving biodiversity and enhancing the wellbeing of communities cannot be left alone to the government nor any one company or entity. This is especially true for a country as large and diverse as Indonesia.
Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas recognizes its responsibility towards the people within the community as well as the forests from which it draws the resources required to produce good quality paper to serve its customers across 150 markets globally. It also recognizes the importance of working with stakeholders to enhance the forest ecosystem and build community resilience through collaborative actions.
A perfect example is its partnership with the Earthworm Foundation (EF) on the Riau Landscape Program in the Regency of Siak, Bengkalis, Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu in Riau Province, on the central eastern coast of Sumatra along the Strait of Malacca. The multi-year started in 2018 and also involves the participation of other multinationals including Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt, LVMH, Avril Oleon and PZC.
The program focuses on 7 villages surrounding the Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere, which contains 700,000 hectares of primarily peat swamp that is home to wildlife and acts as a carbon sink, and therefore the primary goal is to reduce deforestation. Through a diagnostic process, APP Sinar Mas & EF identified actors and drivers of deforestation in the area, and discovered that these were most notably the result of community and illegal loggings. They also found that these encroachments were largely due to unclear boundaries earmarked for conservation and cultivation.
A key component of the program is to undertake activities to support companies and communities in the landscape, by implementing participatory land use planning practices and High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock management planning in collaboration with the government and other relevant stakeholders.
Through a Collaborative Conservation Management (CCM) approach, the two organizations also support local government and communities to collaborate on implementing village-level regulations and conservation planning, such as strengthening village institutions on conservation, conducting SMART Patrol trainings and restoration/rehabilitation activities, building awareness and exploring potential edu-eco-tourism activities and social forestry (Perhutanan Sosial). A guideline on the CCM has also been developed and internalized within APP Sinar Mas' management system to ensure replication/scaling of the model.
To improve the implementation of respecting the rights of indigenous people and local communities, the program completed participatory mappings and land tenure studies (PM-LTS) across the landscape and based on this, APP Sinar Mas and EF identified policy options and created a roadmap for communities to secure land tenure through formal registration processes or appropriate use licenses.
In parallel to this effort, support for companies and communities to map conflict and create agreements for resolution in two villages have been initiated and both APP Sinar Mas & EF will continue supporting companies and communities to develop and implement conflict resolution roadmaps which will aid in the positive inclusion of farmers and communities.
In order to improve the resilience of communities living adjacent to forest conservation and protected ecosystems, the program has also identified the economic diversity and social conditions of the communities, including their level of livelihood capacity and needs. This in turn has allowed the program owners to implement alternative and supplementary livelihood activities for those who are significantly dependent on forests through farmers group and cooperatives, with the objective of reducing human-induced threats to these forests.
In addition, local market demand and off taking opportunities have also been identified and efforts will be made to continue strengthening farmers capacity and capabilities to ensure uptake and scale for their products to create medium-term sustainable livelihoods within the timeline of the Riau Landscape Program.
Deforestation is often interwoven with poverty, land tenure and legislation, and efforts to tackle this severe environmental and human rights challenge needs to take on a landscape-level multistakeholder partnership focusing on enhancing community livelihoods, protecting forests, resolving conflicts and stakeholder engagement.
APP Sinar Mas and EF are concurrently exploring logical linkages and synergies with other multi-stakeholder processes in Riau, to ensure actions taken will help address systemic issues and contribute to delivering forest positive goals.