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Monitoring Conservation Forests

Monitoring Conservation Forests

As a company that depends on renewable resources for its production, APP believes that it is important to conserve and protect forests for our tomorrow, the future generation.

Under the Forest Conservation Policy APP established in 2013, more than half a million hectares of forests from Sumatra to Kalimantan was set aside for conservation, representing more than 20% of the total concession areas managed by APP and its suppliers.

To ensure that these conservation areas remain protected, and are not being illegally encroached upon, ground patrols, in trucks, boats, motorcycles or even on foot, are regularly dispatched to monitor and verify that these areas remain secure.

But these conservation areas, spread out across the Indonesian archipelago, are vast and often remote, with little to no infrastructure. Not all areas are accessible by ground patrols.

This presents a challenge. How do we conserve and protect these enormous caches of natural forests, when we cannot monitor the health and security of these areas from the ground?

Looking to the Skies: Forest Alert Service

Looking to the Skies: Forest Alert Service

To overcome this challenge, APP partnered with MDA, a satellite surveillance and intelligence provider, to provide monitoring and alerts through its Forest Alert Service. MDA has delivered world-leading, iconic technologies such as the Canadarm family of space robotics for the International Space Station and three generations of RADARSAT Earth observation satellites.

The Forest Alert Service uses the spaceborne RADARSAT-2 radar imaging sensor to track disturbances in forest cover of conservation areas as they happen over time. The system can penetrate cloud cover and is able to detect even subtle changes in activity, in areas as small as 0.5 hectares. Alerts are delivered to APP within 3 working days after each acquisition to indicate areas where damage to forests may have occurred. This is particularly useful for spotting forest cover changes in hard-to-reach areas that are normally difficult to monitor from the ground, allowing ground teams to respond with more speed and accuracy to the threats to these conservation forests. For further technical information on the Forest Alert System, please click here.

APP implements the Forest Alert Service (FAS) throughout the protected areas of APP’s suppliers concession areas. Since deploying the Forest Alert Service, forest loss in APP and its supplier conservation areas has been significantly reduced. In 2017 and 2018, natural forest cover degradation in the protected areas of APP’s suppliers concessions was reduced to only 0.1% respectively, 0.35% in 2019 and 0.28% in 2020.


  • RADARSAT-2 uses high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery, which is unaffected by light and weather conditions on the ground.
  • It can image the Earth at spatial resolutions ranging from 1-100m, providing coverage from 144-250,000 km2 in a single scene, with support for single, dual and quad polarization options.
  • After each satellite pass, the MDA FAS processes and compares imaging data with the previous data to determine precise locations of forest cover changes.
  • The service delivers updates over the APP-monitored regions every 24 days with a resolution of 5m, making it capable of detecting not only clear cutting but also selective logging.
  • Imaging through clouds using RADARSAT-2 has achieved an overall accuracy rate of approximately 90%.


Ownership and copyright of satellite images found in this webpage are provided, for illustrative purposes, courtesy of MDA Corporation and MAXAR Technologies.

The forest monitoring data on APP's Forest Monitoring Dashboard represents the MDA RADARSAT2 monitoring data that it receives covering the protected areas within APP's pulpwood suppliers' concessions, as verified by third party firm EY. The purpose of the review is to allow APP to independently demonstrate, to its stakeholders, that the information on its Forest Monitoring Dashboard is an accurate representation of the data received from MDA.

The independent summary report is available below

1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021

1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022



  • Legend
    • Alert Detected: Total alerts received from the MDA server on potential changes occuring in protected areas. The alert indicates that there has likely been some tree loss (“Damage”) somewhere inside the Alert Polygon.
    • Total Estimated Forest Cover Change: Estimated total area with verified forest cover change.
    • Protected Area: Size of protected areas (HCV / HCS areas) in the selected forest management unit (FMU).
    • Percentage of Foret Cover Change: Percentage of verified area with forest cover change or degradation against the total protected area of the FMU.
    • Overlapping License: Verified forest cover change in areas identified with overlapping permits.
    • Illegal Activities: Verified forest cover change caused by illegal activities (encroachment, illegal logging, or illegal mining) al logging, or illegal mining).
    • Natural Causes: Verified forest cover change cause by natural causes (flooding, strong winds or landslides).
    • Unchanged: Alerts verified as no forest cover change.
    • Unverified: Alerts unverified due to lack of accessibility.
    • To Be Verified : Alerts verification on progress.
  • Pie Chart displays the percentage of Overlapping License, Illegal Activities, Natural Causes, Unchanged, Unverified data and To Be Verified.
  • The dashboard only presents FAS data for protected areas within APP’s and its pulpwood suppliers’ concessions in Indonesia.
  • The size of forest cover change is an estimation based on the size of polygon alerts.
  • The size of polygon does not necessarily means that there is forest cover change in the whole polygon area. Instead, to polygon only indicates that there are changes that are detected within the area covered by polygon.
  • The alerts do not include hot spot or fire data


FAS Workflow & Reporting Dashboard

FAS Workflow & Reporting Dashboard


  1. After FAS delivers processed data on forest cover changes, APP uses an automated system to overlay each alert with additional information such as existing land disputes and identified overlapping licenses. This provides critical information for field teams to respond and conduct field verification.

  2. Priority is given to areas with the largest polygon data.
    • If caused by illegal activities,
    • it will be marked under dispute resolution process.If caused by natural disaster, the area would be marked for restoration and rehabilitation.
  3. The FAS data will also be used to identify critical areas where security patrols need to be increased, or to implement further intervention, such as the Collaborative Conservation Management (CCM).


Collaborative Conservation Management (CCM)

Collaborative Conservation Management (CCM)

CCM was develop in partnership with Earthworm Foundation (previously The Forest Trust) and piloted in July 2018 to further improve APP’s forest conservation initiative. Through CCM, APP works with the local authorities and local villages around the protected area to collaboratively implement forest conservation measures. This also include community empowerment program and alternative livelihood solutions to reduce the deforestation risk in the area. 

Through CCM, APP integrates its existing mechanisms including FAS, SMART Patrol, community empowerment program (DMPA) and community-based forest patrol to strengthen the forest conservation effort, and to maintain the forest cover and ecosystem. 

In 2020, the results showed that community engagement and law enforcement reduced the deforestation rate to only 0.5%, compared to 3% before the programme started in 2018. Together with the community, we conducted enrichment programmes on ten hectares of degraded land, using fruit tree species and other tree species that the community can use for non-timber forest products. This project included the development of a community-based nursery to support the seedlings for such enrichment works in the future