Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Independent Study by IPB of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Suppliers’ Plantations Delivers Landmark Research

A first-of-its-kind landmark research project, carried out at Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) pulpwood suppliers’ areas in South Sumatra, by academics at Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia has been honoured at the Indonesian Green Awards, for successfully proving the positive impact of plantation forestry on degraded peat land and greenhouse gas emissions.

Conclusions from this research were based on a study carried out from September 2010 to March 2011 effectively proving that the development of pulpwood plantations - or afforestation - on degraded peat land, or land that had been stripped of forest, can help the land sustainably recover contributing significantly to increased carbon absorption.

The Green Award ceremony on 28 September 2011 was endorsed by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. The findings of the study, which showed a substantial rise in secondary and plantation forest cover over the period of the study, were highlighted.

Dr. Basuki Sumawinata, a well-known peat expert from IPB who jointly led the study, said: “The outputs of the study suggest that forest plantations are actually more effective than degraded wasteland, in terms of managing CO2 emissions. In turn, this puts greater emphasis on the importance of how forestry plantations are sustainably maintained to manage greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Our study also shows a divergence from current thinking on greenhouse gas emissions. At present, considerable opinion suggests that emissions arise from the management of the plantations themselves, particularly from the creation of canals and the supposed drop in water levels from the soil in the plantation,” said Dr. Basuki. “However, our research indicates that that is not necessarily the case. The findings of the study actually suggested that the rate of greenhouse gas emissions from forestry plantations is largely controlled by natural phenomena, such as the decomposition of litter, like fallen leaves, as opposed to factors relating to the management of plantations,” he said.

The study was carried out on an area of land of about 600,000 hectares in South Sumatra that was largely destroyed by fire in 1997-98. Forest fires during the El Nino climate pattern were an ongoing phenomenon until early 2000, at which point forest cover in the area had been reduced by 80%. The area was then developed into a pulpwood plantation by APP’s pulpwood suppliers.

Using airborne and spatial radar technology, the research team was able to evaluate the impact of pulpwood plantation on the degraded land over four distinct periods: before the forest fires; after the forest fires; during the early plantation period; and during the recent plantation period, from 2009 onwards.

Dr. Mahmud Raimadoya, a Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Peat land Management expert from IPB whose team carried out the study using radar technology, said: “We now have the technology and the capability to measure carbon absorption in degraded peat land across a number of different periods, from 1995 to 2009. Using radar systems, along with satellite imagery and on the ground verification, we have learned that pulpwood plantations on degraded peat land actually increase carbon absorption, greater than that of natural forest in the same area.”

The wood, then harvested from plantation forests and used to make paper, continues to store the carbon that growing trees have removed from the air. Responsibly managed forests are re-planted and re-grow, absorbing more carbon dioxide and so the cycle continues.

Along with increased carbon absorption, the findings of the study specifically showed that, in the period 2004-2009, the development of pulpwood plantation managed to successfully improve land cover significantly.

Dr. Basuki said: “One of the key conclusions we can draw from the study is that leaving degraded peat land unmanaged is simply not an option. There is also scope for further private sector involvement to help further forestry management goals, as private companies have much needed resources that can be used to help support GHG emission reductions in the forestry space.”

“We are delighted that this study has been honoured by the Indonesian Green Awards. But we believe that the outputs now need to be incorporated into ongoing initiatives to support sustainable forestry management, such as REDD+,” he said.

Contact Profile


Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) is brand umbrella for paper products manufactured by a number of mills in Indonesia, inter alia PT. Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Tbk, PT. Pindo Deli Pulp and Paper Mills, PT. Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia Tbk, PT. Lontar Papyrus Pulp & Paper Industries, PT. Ekamas Fortuna and PT. The Univenus in Indonesia. APP markets its products to over 120 countries. The majority of APP’s production facilities hold Chain-of-Custody certification from LEI and PEFC.

For more information about Asia Pulp & Paper and the positive impact of plantation forestry on degraded peat land and greenhouse gas emissions please visit
Audrey Blackburn
P: 02 9818 9326
M: 0424 924 083

Tim Scarfe

P: 02 9818 0929
M: 0426 837 048


APP Plantation Environment Greenhouse



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