WWF position on APRIL

Posted on 23 December 2010  | 
5 December 2010

In April 2010, Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood Program suspended APRIL’s interim FSC Controlled Wood certificate for their PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper Forestry Division (Riaufiber) operations which covered approximately 350,000 hectares1 out of more than 1.8 million hectares APRILhas under its management2. The decision was based on RA/SW audits in 20091 that found non-conformance of APRIL operations with FSC Controlled Wood requirements, as well as Rainforest Alliance’s conditions agreed by APRIL in August 2008 to not clear any natural forests for which no professional HCVF assessments had been done or for which the APRIL’s HCVF delineation was disputed by stakeholders3.

WWF-Indonesia, together with local NGO networks Jikalahari and Walhi-Riau, have been monitoring APRIL’s forestry operations closely since 2005 through their Eyes on the Forest project (www.eyesontheforest.or.id). In July and November 2010, the Eyes on the Forest project published two investigative reports4, 5 detailing how APRIL violated its agreement with Rainforest Alliance3, commitments to WWF, and its own public commitment to protect High Conservation Value Forests throughout their corporate operations6 in 2009 and 2010.

The Eyes on the Forest reports also confirmed that Rainforest Alliance’s request to APRIL to “within 10 days […] stop all conversion of natural forest, including secondary or degraded forest in peat forest area7” was not met4, 5. In its letter dated 6 April 2010, Rainforest Alliance set a further 90 day deadline for APRIL to take corrective action8. WWF is unaware of any significant corrective action taken before or after this extended deadline. Given these facts, WWF concludes that APRIL has no serious intention to protect its High Conservation Value Forests or to regain FSC CW certification.

This is sad news for Sumatra’s forests9. WWF worked for years to encourage and support APRIL to become a leader in the pulp & paper industry and adopt best management practices that would bring the company on a road towards sustainable development. However, the company has failed to make fundamental changes to its practices.

SmartWood’s audits1, 10 and Eyes on the Forest investigations4, 5, 11 confirmed that APRIL continues to source wood from clearing of natural forests and draining of peat soils without appropriate HCV assessments and cleared HCVF identified by WWF and also by themselves. The company thus is continuing to destroy High Conservation Value Forests and high carbon value areas important for conservation and climate change mitigation.

This means that corporate information on environmental commitments released by APRIL over the years and still displayed on the company’s website lack credibility. Any statements made by the company in regard to its environmental sustainability must be viewed with high skepticism and should not be taken at face value.

APRIL’s strong insistence on continuing its natural forest clearance practices9 goes directly against the recent commitments by the Indonesian Government. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono committed to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 26% or 41% compared to the Business as Usual level12. Recent provisional analysis commissioned by the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) concluded that the utilization of peat land probably contributes less than 1 percent of GDP yet accounts for almost 50 percent of emissions13. APRIL could have decided to support the President of Indonesia’s pledge to reduce emissions by stopping its conversion of natural forest and peat areas. The Minister of Forestry committed to no longer allow any natural forest conversion on peat soils as of 11 May 2010, such as on the Kampar and Kerumutan peninsulas where APRIL still continues to clear natural forest and drain deep peat4, 5.

WWF calls on APRIL to stop supplying or purchasing wood from conversion of HCVF and high carbon stock areas and not clear and drain peat land forests and peat soils across the Group’s global operations, to stop causing further destruction of biodiversity including tiger and elephant habitat and emission of vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

WWF calls on APRIL to immediately remove any statement implying ongoing conservation collaboration with WWF on its website and in any other publications.

WWF-Indonesia will continue to work with Indonesian pulp & paper producers willing to introduce better practices to lead the industry. However, APRIL has missed the opportunity to cater to the strong and growing demands for environmentally responsible products and instead opted for continuing the clearing of high value tropical forests.

Until APRIL changes course and to demonstrate its responsibility and sustainability in the field, WWF recommends that existing or potential buyers and investors should be wary of conducting any business with APRIL if they want to avoid the risk of contributing to natural forest destruction.


  1. Forest Stewardship Council Certificate FSC certificate holder listing Code SW-CW/FM-003712 FSC License Code: FSC-C009657. PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper Forestry Division (Riaufiber).http://info.fsc.org/PublicCertificateDetails?id=a0240000005sSmMAAU Rainforest Alliance SmartWood Program (26 May 2010) Forest Management Controlled Wood Surveillance Audit 2009 Report for: PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper Forestry Division (Riaufiber) in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau Province, Ind. http://info.fsc.org/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?retURL=%2Fapex%2FPublicCertificateDetails%3Fid%3Da0240000005sSmMAAU&file=00P40000004aWUWEA2
  2. There are at least 1.4 million hectares of concessions associated with APRIL in Sumatra alone, according to Riau Forestry Service (2006), Ministry of Forestry (2005) and Eyes on the Forest analysis. In addition, APRIL has concessions in Kalimantan: ITCI Hutani Manungal (161,127 hectares) and Adindo Hutani Lestari (201,821 ha) according to .http://www.dephut.go.id/files/Buku_DI_Pemanfaatan/DI_Pemanfaatan_Hutan_2009.pdf
  3. Rainforest Alliance SmartWood Program letter to APRIL, dated 15 August 2008. Available from Rainforest Alliance upon request, please contact Richard Z. Donovan, Vice President of Forestry at rdonovan@ra.org.
  4. Eyes on the Forest (8 July 2010) May 2010 Investigative Report Business as Usual in Riau, Sumatra: Pulp Industry Continues Clearance of Natural Forest. Eyes on the Forest (8 July 2010) Press Release Business as Usual in Riau, Sumatra: Pulp Industry Undermines Indonesian President’s Historic Commitment to Dramatic GHG Emissions Reductions. Available for download from: http://eyesontheforest.or.id/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=188&Itemid=20
  5. APRIL Fact Sheet (November 2007) Protecting High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) (http://www.aprilasia.com/images/stories/hcvf.pdf) writes: “From 2005, APRIL has publicly adopted a High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) commitment through its Environmental, Social, Health and Safety (ESHS) Policy and Code of Best Practice (CoBP). […] APRIL conducts HCV assessment using the Indonesian HCVF Toolkit,developed by Rainforest Alliance and ProForest in 2003, and based on the 1999 Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) concept. The HCV assessments are then peer-reviewed by internationally recognized institutions such as ProForest UK and WWF Indonesia which also conduct their separate HCV assessment within the concessions of APRIL or its partners.”
  6. RA/SW requested “APRIL must, within 10 days from the date of this letter including secondary or degraded forest in peat forest areas, and demonstrate to RA/SW auditors that this commitment is being met, based on field observations and interactions with other stakeholders” to re-initiate Controlled Wood and HCVF auditing activities. The deadline was 16 April. For further information, please contact Richard Z. Donovan, Vice President of Forestry At: rdonovan@ra.org.
  7. RA/SW requested “APRIL demonstrates that is has met the 10 Major CARs included in our most recent auditing report and within 90 days from the date of this letter” to re-initiate Controlled Wood and HCVF auditing activities. The deadline was 4 July. For further information, please contact Richard Z. Donovan, Vice President of Forestry At: rdonovan@ra.org.
  8. WWF-Indonesia (2010) Sumatra’s Forests, their Wildlife and the Climate. Windows in Time: 1985, 1990, 2000 and 2009. A quantitative assessment of some of Sumatra’s natural resources submitted as technical report by invitation to the National Forestry Council (DKN) and to the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) of Indonesia.http://assets.wwfid.panda.org/downloads/wwf_indonesia__2010__sumatran_forests_wildlife_climate_report_for_dkn___bappenas.pdf
  9. Rainforest Alliance (15 April 2010) Whom it may concern. Please contact Richard Z. Donovan, Vice President of Forestry at rdonovan@ra.org.
  10. Look at other reports and news published at Eyes on the Forest website (http://www.eyesontheforest.or.id)
  11. Office of the Prime Minister, Norway (26 May 2010) Norway and Indonesia in partnership to reduce emissions from deforestation. (http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/smk/press-center/Pressreleases/2010/Norway-and-Indonesia-in-partnership-to-reduce-emissions-fromdeforestation.html?id=605709), Letter of Intent between the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia on “Cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” http://www.regjeringen.no/upload/SMK/Vedlegg/2010/Indonesia_avtale.pdf
  12. BAPPENAS, Republic of Indonesia (December 2009) Reducing carbon emissions from Indonesia’s peat lands. Interim Report of a Multi-Disciplinary Study. Presented at Wetlands International Side Event, 11 December 2009, COP 15, Copenhagen, Denmark. http://www.wetlands.org/Portals/0/Presentations/3-Wetland%20side%20event%20peatland%20presentation%20111209.ppt
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