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Lucita Jasmin, APRIL Director of Sustainability and External Affairs, and Brad Sanders, APRIL Deputy Head of Conservation were recently featured as part of the panel to discuss the company’s Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) project on a webinar hosted by Innovation Forum.

The webinar, which was moderated by Toby Webb, founder of Innovation Forum, was titled ‘How does landscape conservation/restoration work on the ground? An Indonesian case study’.

Lucy spoke about how APRIL has been able to make its production-protection model work by recognising that sustainable forest management can only happen by achieving an optimal balance between socio-economic empowerment, economic development, and environmental conservation.

“The way the model works is the production component – apart from generating economic contributions locally and nationally - also underwrites the funding, technical and operational resources which are required to actively protect and manage a conservation area,” she said.

She highlighted APRIL’s 1-for-1 Commitment, which pledges to conserve one hectare for every hectare of plantation the company develops, as an example of the production-protection approach.

“RER sits within this model. It’s a perfect illustration of how this particular approach has proven to be effective, given the considerations of balancing socio-economic empowerment, development and conservation in a mixed use landscape in Riau,” she said.

Meanwhile, Brad spoke about ongoing efforts to restore the degraded forest inside RER, through canal blocking,tree replanting and preventing new degradation from occuring, as well as community engagement and incentivizing to ensure that the residents who depend on the forest for their livelihoods are not carrying out unsustainable practices.

“This is the main focus for us, to have the ability to respond quickly and protect the forest from new threats while at the same time restoring the forest from the past activities that once occurred,” he said.

Brad said that these efforts, which also include peatland management through water monitoring, have been largely positive, and that there have no fires occurring inside RER areas since 2014.

On community engagement, he also underscored the significance of developing trust and understanding with the communities as the first and most important aspect to a collaborative approach in managing land, adding that some of the RER rangers are from the communities themselves.

“Having local people working with local people is really the best solution,” he said.

Also on the webinar panel were Fitrian Ardiansyah, Executive Chairman of IDH (Inisiatif Dagang Hijau) Indonesia, and Justin Adams, Executive Director of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020.

“It’s quite encouraging to hear what APRIL and RER have done, and what they are continuing to do with regards to protection, production and of course, community engagement and restoration,” Fitrian said.

Adams said that RER demonstrates the critical role that a single corporate actor can play in ensuring protection within the production of a landscape.

“This works because the company has made a significant commitment. It’s something to be applauded – a supply chain pulp and paper company making that type of commitment to support the communities and the forest in the way they have,” he said