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Project to restore Indonesian forests

A 25-year project to restore more than 500,000 hectares of tropical forests has got underway in Indonesia.

The Rimba Collective, launched by Lestari Capital, aims to deliver $1 billion of forest protection and restoration in Southeast Asia.

The initiative was developed by Lestari Capital in collaboration with founding partners including Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Wilmar.

It aims to expand to more corporate partners and users when it becomes operational at the end of 2021.

Rimba Collective complements the palm oil industry’s efforts to end deforestation by integrating and embedding funding for conservation across the supply chain.

The initiative creates a transformative and sustainable financial model for long-term forest conservation investments that simultaneously support economic development and job creation for local communities.

The initiative’s project portfolio will initially focus on Indonesia, before expanding to projects across Southeast Asia.

Initiatives funded by Rimba Collective will be prioritised based on the potential to protect and restore large, continuous areas of natural ecosystems and critical habitats, such as primary rainforest, peatland and mangroves.

Other priorities include generating mea-surable ecosystem service benefits (such as carbon sequestration, water purification and soil health) and resilient livelihoods for local communities. All projects will undergo third-party verification.

Rimba Collective aligns with the Indonesian government’s focus on protecting the country’s natural capital whilst generating resilient jobs, attracting high quality international and domestic capital, and driving economic development to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

The initiative’s 25-year project agreements will directly benefit 32,000 local people in forest-frontier communities, strengthening equitable livelihoods and providing a secure source of income.

It also contributes to the government’s targets to expand social forestry, accelerate peat and mangrove restoration, and reduce deforestation.

Michal Zrust, co-founder of Lestari Capital, said: “The mechanism has been developed jointly together with the Rimba Collective’s founding partners and is the first of its kind.

“By linking conservation funding directly with company operations, it has the potential to be a game changer for forest protection and restoration.

“It directly complements existing efforts by other groups to build more sustainable palm oil supply chains, and we are offering the opportunity for other major companies in agricultural commodity supply chains to participate.”

Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Sustainable Sourcing & Climate Delivery, Nestlé, said: “We know that addressing deforestation in our palm oil supply chain is not enough.

“For a lasting and meaningful impact, we are evolving from a no-deforestation strategy to a ‘forest-positive’ one.

“This means we will buy from suppliers who are actively conserving and restoring forests while promoting sustainable livelihoods and respecting human rights.

“Our involvement in the Rimba Collective will enable us to speed up our proactive efforts to protect forests and peatlands as well as human rights.

“It is an important pillar to achieve our commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Wern-Yuen Tan, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo APAC, said: “At PepsiCo we believe nature provides one of the most powerful levers we can pull to restore our planet and help meet the world’s climate targets.

“By working together through Rimba Collective, companies are demonstrating shared responsibility in restoring vital ecosystems and providing meaningful livelihoods to those living in and around forests.

“This partnership allows us to have an impact that reaches far beyond any one company or supply chain and helps to demonstrate the importance of forests in building a regenerative food system.”

Girish Deshpande, Sustainability Director, Procter & Gamble, said: “At P&G we are committed to a forest positive approach to palm oils sourcing – through supply chains that protect eco-systems from conversion and deforestation and respect the rights of the people who live and work in palm landscapes.

“We recognise to achieve this we need to come together with multiple stakeholders to find solutions that help us address, at scale, the common conservation, protection and restoration challenges that face us all.”

Perpetua George, Group Sustainability General Manager for Wilmar, said: “The Rimba Collective presents itself at an opportune moment, as we progress further towards fulfilling our commitment to establish a deforestation-free supply chain from 2020 onwards.

“We now have the vehicle that will support our efforts, while also allowing industry and governments to work hand-in-hand to protect and restore forests.”

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