Asia Pulp and Paper Group has committing to retire around 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation areas to protect threatened carbon-rich peatlands. The company says this is the first time that plantations on tropical peatland have been retired for conservation purposes worldwide.
Retiring these plantation areas will help support the government of Indonesia’s target of a 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2020, according to APP. The company has pledged to restore and support the conservation of 1 million hectares of rainforest across Indonesia.
In line with APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), a Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process will be conducted for the five areas, before any retirement proceeds.
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 FCP, which placed an immediate moratorium on all natural forests and new peatland development in February 2013.
As part of this approach, Deltares is working with APP to carry out the largest mapping exercise ever carried out on tropical peatland areas using LiDAR remote sensing technology. LiDAR, deployed from aircraft, allows applied research institute Deltares to map around one quarter of all Indonesian peatland where APP’s suppliers are located. The area totals 4.5 million hectares, which compares to an area the size of Switzerland or the State of Pennsylvania. The resulting maps will be finalized in 2016.
The mapping will provide unprecedented insight into the hydrology and environmental conditions of a number of critically important peat landscapes. Analysis of the data will enable Deltares to provide further recommendations on how APP can minimize the impact of drainage in peat landscapes, making a significant contribution not only to reducing forest loss but also to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.