Sustainability 19.11.2021 5 Min.
Together to protect the rainforest.

BMW Group, Pirelli und BirdLife International have launched a project in the context of sustainably produced natural rubber to save not only an important ecosystem in Indonesia, but lives of the communities and animals.

­­­BMW Group and Pirelli have put together a new project linked to the production of sustainable natural rubber, in collaboration with BirdLife International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which is active in the defence of natural habitats, of birds and of global diversity generally. The purpose of the project is to help safeguard the ecosystem of the Indonesian forest of Hutan Harapan, on the island of Sumatra, and the lives of the communities and animal species at risk of extinction who live there and to fight causes of deforestation. In order to achieve this, BMW Group, Pirelli and BirdLife International, with the support of various local NGOs, have formulated a carefully articulated plan over a three-year period centred upon the rainforest of the island of Sumatra.

The plan seeks to ensure the conservation of an area of around 2,700 hectares based on a deforestation-free arrangement. In addition, there will be a system of direct monitoring and checks on the forest area, with the use of satellite and drone-based technology, and there will also be a census of the animals at the highest risk of extinction, such as the Sumatran tiger, the agile gibbon and two birds – the helmeted hornbill and the greater green leafbird ­–, involving the activation of conservation programmes together with the local communities. These communities will be at the centre of a large number of activities: training courses will be organised for the small local farming enterprises, with the objective of improving their practices for the cultivation and management of the plantation, in support of the environment, and the indigenous communities, thanks to their active involvement with the institutions, will have an important say overall in how the habitats are managed.

Ökosystem des indonesischen Waldes von Hutan Harapan

Photo © Hutan Harapan, Ardi Wijaya

This is not the first time that the BMW Group and Pirelli have forged a pathway together for the sustainable management of natural rubber production, from an environmental and social perspective. Early in 2021 Pirelli manufactured the first tyre in the world to qualify for certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which attests to the sustainable management of forests throughout the entire manufacturing process. This tyre, a Pirelli P Zero, is fitted to the BMW X5 Plug-in-Hybrid, which has thus become the first car to be equipped with FSC-certified tyres.

Now the BMW Group together with Pirelli have decided to take a further step along the path towards the sustainable management of their supply chain, with an on-site project, which directly involves the places where natural rubber production begins its cycle. There are some 1,350 various animal species living in the area of the rainforest of Hutan Harapan involved in this initiative, as well as a vast indigenous population. In harmony with the objectives of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), of which the BMW Group, Pirelli and BirdLife International are amongst the founding members, the three partners in the Project have come up with various activities to safeguard this ecosystem.

Amongst these, there is the organisation of workshops dedicated to women who wish to develop managerial capabilities, particularly in activities connected with the conservation of biodiversity and with the sustainable management of natural rubber resources. The project also provides for the creation of a cooperative of natural rubber growers, in order to develop a direct supply line from the communities to the local enterprises where the rubber is processed. In relation to the cultivation of the rubber trees, an agro-forestry approach will be cultivated, which will allow growers to optimise the relationship between production, soil fertility, diversification of revenue streams (there will be different plantings in the same area with a view to reducing small-holders’ dependence on just natural rubber), conservation of biodiversity and capitalisation of resources in a circular way.

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 bio-diversity and tropical rainforest conservation,” said 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.”

Ökosystem des indonesischen Waldes von Hutan Harapan

Photo © Hutan Harapan, Aulia Erlangga

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