02/27/2014 04:08 EST | Updated 04/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Moving Toward Our Goal of Zero Deforestation

One year ago Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), immediately halting all natural forest clearance across its entire supply chain. The FCP also outlined steps the company would take to fulfill a new promise of unprecedented commitment to sustainability practices.

This commitment came about after years of pressure from NGOs urging APP to change its manufacturing practices. Ultimately that pressure succeeded not only in educating APP about the need for change, but in inspiring the company to strive to become a global leader in sustainable pulp and paper manufacturing.

APP has made significant strides in achieving the goals it outlined in its FCP and is committed to zero deforestation, but there's still a tremendous amount of work to do. By engaging with stakeholders -- including our most ardent critics -- APP will continually improve its steps toward accelerating not only its progress, but also that of the whole industry in halting global deforestation.

As we advance along our road map of continuous improvement, we have discovered many opportunities and obstacles that we know cannot be realized or resolved by us alone. While we have begun transforming how we manage our concessions, we now see so much more positive change that is possible. Which is why we are using our one-year anniversary to call on NGOs, governments and businesses to expand our emerging collaborations to protect Indonesia's forests.

Specifically, we outlined four key priorities for 2014 to engage our broader industry and other sectors to help accelerate the realization of zero deforestation. These are:

1. Overlapping licenses -- The issue of overlapping licenses needs to be resolved by all concerned parties if we are to develop a system for governing all concession holders in Indonesia.

2. Community and land conflict issues -- At times when the needs of communities are at odds with no-deforestation policies, an agreed and consistent way of managing the negotiation process should be developed.

3. Landscape management -- Landscape level conservation is vital to the preservation of peatland, the habitat of key species and protection against forest fires, all of which can span several concession areas of differing uses. A cross-industry sector approach must therefore be developed to manage entire landscapes, to protect what remains and restore what has been degraded, to ensure their long term viability.

4. Market recognition -- Policies that protect forests and peat land can only be economically viable if the market recognizes their value. It is therefore important to harness market mechanisms that incentivize companies to introduce and implement such protections.

We are creating management plans to ensure the viability of the 2.6 million hectares for which APP suppliers are responsible. However, unless all of Indonesia's land is properly managed, the forest landscape will continue to face risk of further degradation.

It is time for all parties to get active and start working together.

The lessons learned over the past year have been many, and there is still much work to be done, but the most important take away is the power for positive change that emerges from NGOs and business committing to working together.

NGOs serve an essential role in holding business accountable for their impact on our planet -- environmental, social, or otherwise. When efforts move past "campaigning against" to "working with", we can find the space needed to build trust and develop systemic solutions to complex issues.

Ian Lifshitz is North American director of sustainability & stakeholder relations at Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP), the world's second largest pulp & paper company. To learn more about APP's community initiatives and sustainability efforts, visit