August 6, 2018

APP accelerating community partnership actions

(foresthints.news) - Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has prioritized accelerating the implementation of its forestry partnership initiative by undertaking a community-based intercropping program in one of the pulpwood concessions it controls, PT BMH.

The intercropping in this case consists of corn and pineapple planted in newly-developed acacia plantation blocks. The APP pulpwood concession concerned is situated in Riding village in South Sumatra’s OKI regency, which forms part of a peat ecosystem.

The initiative, aimed at strengthening the PT BMH-community forestry partnership, got underway in early July this year. To check the level of its progress, the foresthints.news team recently conducted an on-site observation (Aug 1).  

The corn planted in the approved blocks now covers at least 6 hectares of the 20 hectares targeted for completion by the end of this year. The following photos, taken by the foresthints.news team, show the corn which was planted by 16 community members. 

Nonetheless, the planting of the corn, as explained by APP in the field, still faces some obstacles, such as the change of season with the onset of the dry season, meaning that planting will be stepped up in the rainy season from around November this year. 

One of the community leaders interviewed by the foresthints.news team said that they have to cover a considerable distance of around 25-30 kilometers (50-60 kilometers both ways) by motorcycle with difficult road access to reach the forestry partnership location, which also presents quite a tough challenge. 

In addition to corn, approximately one thousand pineapples have also been planted in the blocks, as seen in the photos below. 

While the corn and pineapples in the intercropping program are mostly now growing, new acacia trees have not yet been planted even though the blocks were previously developed for new acacia plantations.

Agroforestry development expedited 

Information provided by APP on site confirmed that not only is the intercropping program being implemented, but APP is also speeding up the establishment of a 50-hectare demonstration plot for agroforestry development on blocks previously agreed upon with local communities.

The accelerated establishment of this demonstration plot is important, according to APP, given that the locations of the community-forestry partnership lie within a peat ecosystem, thereby requiring the (accelerated) project to stay in line with Indonesia's new peat regulations.

This agroforestry development includes the creation of new rice fields, the main expectation of local communities as expressed in interviews performed by the foresthints.news team.

Meanwhile, the APP-controlled company seems to have ended its previous priority of developing the peat ecosystem for new acacia expansion in the forestry partnership blocks in Riding village. In fact, this was also acknowledged by the company's staff interviewed at the concession. 

Further observation of the level of acceleration of this community-forestry partnership is certainly very relevant as this could provide key lessons learned as to how similar forestry partnerships between companies and local communities can be improvised and strengthened.