Entering 2019 with New Hope

This year marks the 32nd year of Green Forest Product & Tech. Pte. Ltd. (GFPT) existence. Since our foundation, we have witnessed significant changes in our industry, primarily in pulp and woodchip. First was the disappearance of mangrove usage in Japan, resulted from pressure by environmentalist interest groups and the global emergence of pulpwood plantation (Acacia, Eucalyptus) across South East Asia, Australia to South America. Essentially, most of the natural hardwood supply of pulpwood (Eucalyptus and mixed tropical hardwood) face continuous decline. The second significant event was the creation of Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) in 1993 to provide a framework and strict standard for responsible management of the forest, which is now the golden standard for certification and is not an easy one to pass. Third is the rise of Indonesia as a major supplier of paper, which is mainly attributed to the growth of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL), while in the last decade, Vietnam became the largest exporter of pulpwood. Both APP and APRIL do not use mangrove and Vietnam’s increasing supply capability put a lot of pressure on woodchips pricing.

As a trading company focusing on sustainable mangrove products, we are placed in a difficult position given the aforementioned trends and the perception that sustainable and mangrove harvest can never belong in one sentence. However, we survived all of those changes with some battle wounds, but the lessons learned while adapting enabled us to be stronger. In particular, in our extensive relationship with the key suppliers from Indonesia, namely PT Bintuni Utama Murni Wood Industries (PT BUMWI) and PT Bina Ovivipari Semesta (PT BiOS), against all odds, we played a key role in getting them FSC® certified in 2015, a first for pulpwood in Indonesia and for mangrove worldwide. Without sustainability certification, our mangrove path would have ended. In the last five years, we embarked on various collaborative research programs and have built extensive relationship with academics and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) worldwide. We needed to make these extra efforts in order to counter the perception in Asia that “natural” forest utilization is always bad (it is not, as is the fact that plantation is not always good). In addition, we have initiated the application of new and old technologies to develop new products from mangrove forests, improve sustainability practices, as well as to increase productivity of our suppliers.

As we enter 2019, we hope that the new and exciting transformation of the company will finally bear its fruit. The GFPT development of low-impact mechanization for mangrove log extraction that started in late 2015, was finally successful in 2018 and will become the primary method of production in 2019. Various research initiatives from mangrove regeneration, soil, carbon, sedimentation, growth rate, allometry, remote sensing, macrobenthos and biodiversity surveys will soon be published within the 2019 – 2020 period. This will be a significant jump from the publishing of only two English papers in the last five years related to our suppliers’ concession area. In addition, we have developed four potential new products derived from either mangrove timber or waste. We hope a few of these products will find the right market, diversify our portfolio, improve supplier’s sustainability and enable GFPT to again grow its business after many challenging years.

 

In 2019, an International conference on Mangrove, Macrobenthos and Management (MMM5) will be held in Singapore. This is a great opportunity for GFPT to share research results with the mangrove scientific community. We will be one of the sponsors for this 2019 event and hope to get at least six papers presented. What an exciting year!

– Muljadi Tantra
Chief Executive Officer
Green Forest Product & Tech. Pte. Ltd.