HIGHLIGHT 5 Responding to Climate Change Developing plantation forest operations that provide both a stable supply of timber and protect the environment Responsible peatland management by Wana Subur Lestari (WSL) and Mayangkara Tanaman Industri (MTI) of Indonesia

To mitigate deforestation, it is important to regenerate forest resources through appropriate management.

Sumitomo Forestry is practicing sustainable forest management based on the concept of perseveration forestry, where we plant, nurture, harvest and utilize trees and then replant. We own and maintain plantation forest operations that cover approximately 48,000ha of company-owned forests in Japan and about 230,000ha of plantation forest land overseas.

Utilizing our know-how gained from our wealth of experience in forest management both in Japan and abroad, we are working to expand sustainable plantation forest operations that are in harmony with the local society and environment.

Production Forests in Indonesia

Sumitomo Forestry and an Indonesian forest management and plywood manufacturing company called Alas Kusuma Group jointly established WSL and MTI (hereinafter WSL/MTI) and with the license from Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, has been operating a large-scale plantation forest in West Kalimantan since 2010. In addition to planting, growing and harvesting trees in a planned manner to produce sustainable timber, the operations are working in full consideration of biodiversity protection. Furthermore, the operation is contributing to development of the regional society through the creation of local job opportunities and other efforts.

View of the plantation forest

View of the plantation forest

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Sustainable Peatland Management

Peatlands are formed when dry vegetation accumulates in water in an undecomposed state. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s four million square kilometers of peatland account for 3% of the earth’s total land area and are said to hold 630 gigatons of carbon. If the carbon gas trapped in the soil is released due to overdevelopment or peat fires, it would impact significantly impact on climate change. In the past, peatlands were dried using drainage canals and made into plantation forests. However, drying the soil breaks down organic substances in the peat soil, which results in the emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, dry peat burns easily, creating the risk of large-scale peat fires. To prevent fires, appropriate water level management is important to ensuring that the soil is maintained at a desirable level of dampness.

WSL/MTI conducted detailed surveys for five years with the start of plantation forest operations in the peatland areas and came up with a comprehensive plan. After gathering in-depth data as well as totally new data about the geography, depth and other features of the peatlands, WSL and MTI formulated an evidence-based water level management plan. In addition, they implemented proper management systems, such as appropriate ways to measure water levels and fire prevention training, and with the cooperation of a research institute, they accumulated know-how about peat management to improve operations. As a result, while peatland settlement rate is said to be usually 5~10cm/year, the operations have been able to maintain an average peatland settlement rate of 2.8cm/year, almost the same as natural forests. These efforts have helped to suppress the emission of greenhouse gases from the soil, and with the absorption of CO2 from the plantation forests, are helping to mitigate climate change. In addition, at the plantation forest plan proposal phase, in line with thinking regarding high conservation value forests (HCVF), we are conducting detailed studies and establishing protection areas for forests, buffer zones and production forests (plantation forest land). With local governments and other companies, we have created a forest protection network and are working together to create green corridors with rare animal and plant species in a manner that ensures that their habitats are not isolated. These efforts have been highly regarded by animal specialists and NGOs.

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Regional Grassroots Activities

There are about 300 local employees working at WSL/MTI, which is contributing to employment of local residents and vitalization of local industry. In addition, we are embarking on many different locally rooted activities to strengthen ties with the community, such as building water purification facilities and clinics, providing support to maintain full-time medical staff, teaching about the environment at local primary schools and other efforts. In 2018, we created a grievance mechanism whereby local residents can express in writing and through our regular visits their opinions, which we respond to within seven business days. This system helps us to appropriately handle any problems that local residents present.

Environmental class at a local primary school

Environmental class at a local primary school

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Speaking at COP for Two Consecutive Years - an Increase in Overseas Interest

Our comprehensive approach to peat management has been regarded highly and at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) held in 2018, we gave a speech at the Indonesia Pavilion.

This speech was given in response to a request from Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and was the second time we participated in COP after 2017. Under the title, “Sustainable landscaping for timber manufacturing and peat biodiversity protection,” we talked about sustainable peat management. Half of the participants were from developing countries and the event showed us first-hand the interest and global need for peat management technologies.

We see potential in applying and expanding sustainable peat management to regions beyond Indonesia. Blessed with the possibility of expanding opportunities, we will increase our focus and efforts in the future.

At the lecture

At the lecture

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Message from the On-site Manager

I consider my job in water level management to be about working with water and peat. Because I get covered in peat and my work clothes are always stained in the color of mud, I have a job that not many people like. In times of emergency, I sometimes have to go to measure water levels in the middle of the night or at dawn. I am always thinking about stabilizing water levels so that the plantation forest grows properly. We developed a simple yet effective method to manage water levels in 2010, which has gained a lot of attention from governments and international organizations as a superior technology. Though it is a job that most people dislike, I am truly honored that its value is being recognized and it is gaining more attention.

Now my stained work clothes are a symbol of my pride. In the future, I hope more people will become involved in working with water and peat and generate new ideas and technologies. It is truly wonderful that our technologies are being adopted around the world.

Bernardus Agusmuliyadi, Water Management Section, Mayangkara Tanaman Industri, talking with Minister Arlette of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (on left)

Bernardus Agusmuliyadi,
Water Management Section,
Mayangkara Tanaman Industri,
talking with Minister Arlette of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (on left)

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Plantation Forest Site Visits by Government and International Organization Representatives

For the primary purpose to observe and learn about sustainable peat management in Indonesia, a group visited WSL/MTI in October 2018 as part of the third conference of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)*1-led Global Peatlands Initiative (GPI)*2.

The visitors included representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Forest Development Research Center of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), forestry agencies and others for a total of 50 participants. The tour included explanations about water level management systems and real-time environment observation systems using IoT technologies. In addition, we explained how we are working to protect animal and plant life by creating protected forests and green corridors. Through this opportunity, we were able to gain global recognition for our combined pursuit of economic activity and conservation activity.

This visit helped us gain international interest and focus and gave us a stronger foothold in Sumitomo Forestry’s aim to spread forest management to other regions.

*1 Established in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme provides leadership and encourages partnership in protecting the environment to enable nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. It is one of the leading UN bodies in the environmental field.

*2 An initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with peatland protection that was launched at the Global Landscape Forum in November 2016 ahead of COP22 (Marrakech). Main members include Indonesia, Peru, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

View of site visit

View of site visit

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Sustainability Report