Children's Christmas books published by HarperCollins linked to deforestation in Indonesia, says group

December 14, 2012

Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas and other children's books sold by publisher HarperCollins show traces of rainforest fiber and are therefore linked to deforestation in Indonesia, says the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), an environmental activist group.

RAN commissioned a paper lab to test fiber from several HarperCollins books for the presence of Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH), which in the paper business primarily comes from Indonesian forests. The lab found "signifiant quantities" of MTH in Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas, a top-selling holiday book authored by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

RAN said the lab also found "high risk" acacia fiber in other children's titles, including Splat the Cat: The Perfect Present for Mom and Dad and Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past. RAN deemed the fiber "high risk" because 90 percent of acacia pulp comes from Indonesia, where two suppliers — Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) — have cleared large tracts of natural forest for acacia plantations. APP and APRIL account for more than 80 percent of Indonesia's pulp and paper output and are the "main source of both MTH and acacia pulp found in the global marketplace", according to RAN. Both are the targets of environmental campaigners, including RAN.

Conversion of peat forest for a plantation. Photo from RAN's report Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction: Children’s books and the future of Indonesia’s rainforests.

Concessions held by affiliates of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) in Riau. Image courtesy of Eyes on the Forest.
“No child or parent should become an unwitting participant in rainforest destruction this holiday season,” said Robin Averbeck, a Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, in a statement. “It is past time for HarperCollins to sever ties with Indonesian rainforest destroyers APP and APRIL and join its peers like Scholastic, Hachette, and Disney by adopting a comprehensive global paper policy to keep deforestation, tiger extinction and human rights abuses out of its books.”

RAN notes that while HarperCollins has a paper sourcing statement on its global web site, the policy apparently doesn't exclude fiber sourced from natural forest conversion. RAN says that HarperCollins-UK does however have a policy that excludes paper from "endangered forest habitats".

HarperCollins did not respond to request for comment from mongabay.com, but HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum told Environmental Leader that the company "eliminated the use of Indonesian fiber in February" and that "any books printed after that date should be compliant". She added that HarperCollins does not source directly from APP or APRIL.

Pulp and paper production is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation and peatlands degradation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. By one estimate, APP and APRIL together cleared 2 million hectares (5 million acres) of forest in Riau Province since the mid-1980s, accounting for half the province's forest loss during that time. Environmentalists say ongoing clearing by the paper giants puts endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and elephant at greater risk. Up to 1.2 million hectares of standing forest and peatland in Sumatra is still licensed for clearing, according to Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs. Eyes on the Forest estimates that conversion of that area will generate up to 500 million tons of carbon emissions.

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mongabay.com (December 14, 2012).

Children's Christmas books published by HarperCollins linked to deforestation in Indonesia, says group .