The decision was not easy. In a tug of war between financial gains and ecological commitment, some paper companies have eventually pledged to cease business in certain parts of the world, like Indonesia, to help reduce deforestation and safeguard peatlands.
One of the companies, Unlisted Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) pledged to use supplies from its own plantations and has started working in close collaboration with environmental groups to protect peatlands and expand conservation areas. Like APRIL, some other paper firms have been vehemently criticized by environmental NGOs over years for remaining passive in regards to the protection of peatlands and rainforests.
Indonesia is home to the biggest tropical peatland in the world. These peat forests-consisting of partially decayed vegetation having accumulated over thousands and thousands of years- are the key ecosystem for Indonesia and act like an immense carbon sink, storing up to 60 billion metric tons. They are furthermore the habitat of endangered species like tigers and orangutans as well as various freshwater fish.
Once these lands are cleared to make place for plantations like palm and paper, the carbon-rich peat may turn into virtual bombs while spiking into fire. This is why Indonesia is one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gas across the world. Peat and forest fires have also been resulting in thousands of deaths yearly in the South of Asia, while the degradation of peatlands have given way to floods as they were acting like sponges, soaking up water.
The conservation of its peatlands is thus crucial to maintain not only the ecological health of Mother Earth itself, but also to allow the local inhabitants of these regions live a decent and healthy life
Paper companies like APRIL has set the example by conserving around 320,000 hectares of natural forest in Indonesia out of the 480,000 that it possesses and developed up to now for plantations for the paper industry. The company has adopted sustainability policies to protect wildlife and combat climate change.
The giant Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP), which prides itself in being one of the leading paper mills worldwide, has also decided to shut down business with the objective to protect rainforests and peatlands and prevent all the catastrophe that their destruction entails. The company devised a meticulous programme called the Peatland best Practice Management Programme in a bid to curb the harm being done. APP Group has thus decided to retract from vulnerable zones.
This decision was not an easy one as active plantations are a good source of financial benefits for the business. APP nevertheless weighed the conservation of the peatlands as heavier than any amount of money. The company has started mapping the peatlands as the country’s database is outdated. A rehabilitation plan has been meticulously crafted- trees will be planted, dams will be built while taking into account the wishes of the local inhabitants on whom the exploitation of peatlands has had long lasting impacts.