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:
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
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.