The Eco-Research Camp was host to over 40 domestic and international groups interested to learn more about the RER program. Both national and international researchers studying abroad benefitted from the Peat Lab facility; one PhD student from Kent University, UK assessing large mammal population trends in a human-modified landscape, one Masters student from Wageningen University, Netherlands comparing different restoration techniques. Four Masters students from the University of British Columbia, Canada documented the ecological, economic, and social aspects of fisherman on the Serkap river.

With FFI’s completion of the last baseline biodiversity and carbon stock survey in PT GAN on Kampar Peninsula and RER’s continuous monitoring of biodiversity via camera traps and field surveys, the total fauna and flora documented became 843 species, an increase of 138 species since 2016. This included 5 mammals, 5 amphibian/reptiles, 20 birds, 50 plants and 58 species of Odonata.

Corina, a female Sumatran tiger released in RER in December 2020 and tracked by GPS collar for 5-months, suddenly reappeared on camera trap video in the same ‘home range’ as her last known location 16-months earlier.  Through Kent University’s follow-up mammal study and expertise from the Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology (DICE), RER is developing a tiger database for the Kampar Peninsula to identify individual tigers, estimate population size, and understand their usage of human-modified landscapes.

During 2022 RER participated in various national and international events to share their expertise and insights. Highlights include:

RER renovated the Eco-Camp Office by developing the “Peat Lab”, a dedicated workspace for students and researchers to examine, store and analyse material and data from their research in the Kampar Peninsula peat forest.

RER constructed a floating helipad and guard post at Tasik Tengah, a 7-hectare lake located at the center of the Kampar Peninsula to improve forest protection capabilities and provide safe and comfortable facilities for RER staff, researchers, and corporate guests to enjoy a firsthand experience at a remote location in the peat forest.

RER’s Carbon Project was validated and registered by VERRA to avoid more than 384 million tons of CO2e emissions during the 57-year project lifetime, potentially one of the world’s largest carbon avoidance projects applying REDD+ methodologies.

Despite pandemic-driven limitations on travel and public gatherings, RER continued to safely support local communities by implementing 120 programs for religious activities, sport/social events, eco-education, health education, employee volunteering, agro-forestry and infrastructure.

APRIL released Frontier Sumatra, a documentary on the RER program which premiered on Discovery Asia in September 2021. Initial planning and production for the documentary began in 2018 that lead to an intensive month of filming in February 2020. Frontier Sumatra recounts the daily lives and challenges of the RER Rangers and staff to protect, assess, restore, and manage the peat forest, wildlife and people that rely on this ecosystem for their livelihoods and delivers the message that a pulp and paper company can not only produce from the landscape, but also protect it.

As one of the APRIL 2030 commitments, APRIL Group refined their investment to conservation and restoration by linking the company’s fiber production to its financial investment in nature by pledging US$1 for every ton of plantation fibre produced per year to be applied to landscape conservation and restoration.

RER collaborated with the IUCN Odonata Specialist Group to conduct the first of four baseline surveys on the Kampar Peninsula for dragonfly’s and damselfly’s resulting in 57 Odonata species, three of which were first time identifications for Riau and Sumatra. The RER team also assisted the Government of Indonesia with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Corina, a critically endangered Sumatran tiger and successfully tracked her movements and behaviour for 5-months using a GPS collar.

Despite the pandemic, RER staff remained active in various national and international forums, via webinars and virtual events, to remain engaged on restoration topics of shared concern.

After 3-years of planning and 1.5-years of construction, RER’s Eco-Research Camp was completed and 48 RER staff took occupancy. The Eco-Camp also provides guest housing for 16 visitors, offering researchers and corporate stakeholders access to the remote wetland wilderness on the Kampar Peninsula and a detailed understanding of APRIL’s production-protection landscape approach.

RER previously identified on the Kampar Peninsula that 875 ha of highly degraded forest required restoration and 25 old drainage canals needed to be closed. By years end, RER restored a total of 68 ha and closed 23 canals. RER had also prevented fires and illegal logging from occurring in the concessions for the 4th consecutive year.

To assess the impact of the forest protection and restoration efforts, a Normalised Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) analysis was conducted using remote-sensing data from 2015-18 to document the impact of RER’s restoration activities on the Kampar Peninsula’s peat swamp forests. The results suggested that the forests were progressively healthier under the RER’s management as compared to forests outside of RER where degradation continued to occur through uncontrolled drainage and illegal logging.

In support of the Government of Indonesia’s 2nd Sumatra Wide Tiger Survey, RER collaborated with SINTAS (Save the Indonesian Nature and Threatened Species) to conduct the first detailed field survey of Sumatran tiger presence on the Kampar Peninsula. Results from the 517,500 ha survey indicated that the peninsula had one of the highest probabilities of tiger presence as compared to five other priority landscapes in Sumatra.

RER participated in the Innovation Forum’s Sustainable Landscapes and Commodities Forum and met with members of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, the largest cluster of conservation organizations in the world located at the David Attenborough Building at Cambridge University, UK.

The RER program participated in a number of national and regional forums including the 7th Southeast Asian Studies Symposium on Sustainable Peatland Restoration and Management in Indonesia and the 5th Annual Meeting of Tropical Biology and Conservation in Malaysia.

The RER welcomed guests from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Responsible Business Forum (RBF), to inform about the RER program and the production-protection landscape approach.

RER employed 69 employees and 70 contracted rangers with 80% of the staff originating from the local community and/or Riau province. The RER program supported twenty families that harvest fish on the Serkap River to formalize a Fishing Group to ensure only sustainable fish harvest techniques were used. Additionally, RER began selling Madu Hutan Riau, a natural honey product provided by local collectors that climb 30-40 meters above the forest floor to harvest this natural bounty. RER’s Community Relations program doubled (44 activities) in 2017 by supporting and implementing religious events, sporting activities and volunteer programs.

RER’s biodiversity monitoring and restoration work continued with camera trap monitoring that focused on the elusive Flat-headed cat and conducting the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) that counted 200 individuals comprised of seven different waterbird species. RER also constructed 17 dams to close old drainage canals in order to maintain peat soil moisture and minimize subsidence during the dry season.

FFI completed the baseline biodiversity studies on 92,500 ha which provided information for RER to publish its first Summary Report on Biodiversity of the Kampar Peninsula, describing 524 plants and animals identified in the RER concessions. RER also conducted its first migratory raptor survey and implemented 21 activities in support of local communities.

BIDARA began implementing “Managing Land Without Slash and Burn” program, focusing on organic farming techniques and animal husbandry on the Kampar Peninsula, conducting a total of 17 no-burn trainings during the year.

The RER concession area expanded with the acquisition of three additional ecosystem restoration licenses (Sinar Mutiara Nusantara, The Best One Unitimber, Global Alam Nusantara) on Kampar Peninsula totalling 150,000 ha, thus completing the core protection zone on the Kampar Peninsula and Padang Island peat domes that are isolated from forest threats by the actively-managed production fiber plantation-ring.

The RER activities began with protecting the forest from new degradation and conducting baseline assessments that follow the High Conservation Value approach and Community, Climate and Biodiversity Standard that create net positive benefits for climate change mitigation for local communities and for biodiversity.

The protection efforts were initiated by training and deploying forest protection rangers at main access points along the concession borders to inform forest users of the legal status of the area and requirement for sustainable practices. RER’s partners Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and BIDARA also initiated work on-the-ground. FFI deployed 225 camera traps on the Kampar Peninsula to inventory the fauna present in the peat landscape; measured peat depth and above-ground biomass and documented the ethnicity and well-being of surrounding communities. BIDARA established a local farmer group to promote intensive, “no-burn” vegetable farming techniques and enhance economic opportunities.

The RER program began restoration activities by trialling several dam construction techniques to close old drainage canals and planted native tree seedlings on 8.9 ha of highly degraded sites on the Kampar Peninsula.

APRIL Group released its Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2.0, with a 1:1 target of conservation forest and fiber plantation hectares. At the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, Anderson Tanoto, Managing Director of RGE, announced that APRIL Group would invest US$100 million in conservation and restoration over the next 10 years.

The launch of the RER initiative, with APRIL’s acquisition of two Ecosystem Restoration licenses (PT Gemilang Citra Nusantara) on Kampar Peninsula and Padang Island, was an important milestone in Indonesia’s efforts to address deforestation, conserve biodiversity, restore degraded ecosystems, and promote sustainable development through a production-protection landscape approach.

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