Deforestation-free rubber: Pirelli, BMW working with BirdLife International
Pirelli’s latest efforts are quite literally for the birds – and this is by no means a bad thing. Together with the BMW Group, Pirelli is joining with BirdLife International in a three-year project that aims to favour the long-term production of sustainable and deforestation-free natural rubber in Indonesia. Our feathered friends are just one of a whole range of potential beneficiaries.
BirdLife International – an NGO that conserves global biodiversity, habitats and birds – will be supported by its two new partners in actions to benefit local communities, the conservation of the natural ecosystem and protection of endangered animal species in the forests of Indonesia. In Indonesia, the project is implemented by a number of non-governmental organisations coordinated by the local consortium PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (PT Reki). In Indonesia, the cultivation of natural rubber is one of the traditional sources of income for the local population.
The project is located in part of Sumatra’s Hutan Harapan rainforest, which is home to around 1,350 different animal species. It will take the form of a series of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of the indigenous community by protecting farmers’ land rights and promoting women’s rights, conserving a deforestation-free area of 2,700 hectares and protecting several endangered species. The different activities will be implemented in line with the goals of the Global Platform of Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), the multi-stakeholder platform for the sustainable development of the natural rubber business, of which Pirelli, BMW Group and BirdLife International are founder members.
The partnership between Pirelli and the BMW Group in support of Indonesia’s Hutan Harapan forest is part of a joint pathway to sustainable natural rubber. In this context, Pirelli developed and produced the first tyre in the world to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It supplies this specific Pirelli P Zero as original equipment for the BMW X5 Plug-in-Hybrid.
Main project activities
The project presented by Pirelli, the BMW Group and BirdLife International foresees the involvement of a number of stakeholders: local communities, government agencies and the entire natural rubber value chain.
The three-year programme entails multiple activities, including:
Agroforestry approach in the context of natural rubber, as promoted by the GPSNR, to optimise the relationship between production, income diversification by varying crops in the same area, conserve biodiversity, soil fertility, capitalisation of resources from a circular point of view and carbon sequestration.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP): training courses for smallholders on good cultivation and plantation management practices, in support of the environment, productivity and improvement of smallholders’ living and working conditions.
Local community engagement: involving farmers’ families active in the area to identify, ensure respect for and protection of their habitual rights.
Forest protection: a monitoring and direct checks of the forest area through wardens, drones and satellite control technologies.
Female empowerment: workshops for women to develop skills with a view to ultimately occupying potential new roles, with particular attention to activities connected to the sustainable management of natural rubber and the protection of biodiversity and forests.
Care and protection of animals: census taking and monitoring of animal species most at risk such as the Sumatran tiger, helmeted hornbill, greater green leafbird and agile gibbon, with the involvement of local communities in active forest and biodiversity protection roles.
Traceability and use of sustainable natural rubber: creation of a natural rubber Growers’ Cooperative to permit the direct supply of natural rubber from the communities to the processing plants in the region; introduction of documentation for the traceability of the rubber from plantation to processor.
BirdLife International will coordinate with Pirelli and the BMW Group on the project’s progress and results achieved through a plan of periodic reporting.
Creating a shared socio-environmental value
“The development of this project is based on the principles of transparency and tangibility which have always guided Pirelli’s actions,” says Giovanni Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli’s senior vice-president Sustainability and Future Mobility. “Together with BMW Group, in support of the goals of BirdLife we intend to be an active part of a project that aims to have a sustainable impact all round on natural rubber, in the belief that community, biodiversity and business must grow by supporting each other, creating a shared socio-environmental value.”
“As a premium manufacturer, our goal is to lead the way on sustainability and actively take responsibility within our supply chains. In the fight against climate change, we are rolling out targeted measures to support biodiversity and tropical rainforest conservation,” adds Dr Andreas Wendt, BMW AG board member for Purchasing and Supplier Network. “Our project in Indonesia will help people and the local economy to work in greater harmony with nature. At the same time, it will also support local communities by professionalising their traditional cultivation methods for natural rubber.”
Patricia Zurita, chief executive officer, BirdLife International, comments: “BirdLife works beyond species and sites to address systemic drivers of the biodiversity and climate crisis and promote a nature positive and carbon neutral world. This is why we joined the GPSNR and welcome this collaboration with Pirelli and BMW to embed practices to safeguard nature within the rubber value chain.”