Forest clearing in the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape in central Sumatra. Earlier this year Greenpeace launched a report targeting toy-makers for packaging fiber sourced from APP. The centerpiece of the campaign was a spoof of Mattel’s Barbie character.
Greenpeace and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a giant global paper supplier, are locked in a heated battle over the activist group’s allegations that APP products contain fiber sourced from the destruction of forests in Indonesia. At stake is APP’s access to some of the world’s most lucrative markets.
After losing several high profile customers in recent months due to the Greenpeace campaign, APP earlier this month fired back at Greenpeace in a press release that accused the activist group of making “false allegations.”
The APP press release asserts that “claims by Greenpeace International that two Asia Pulp & Paper products were ‘proven’ to contain ‘Indonesian rainforest fibre’ have no scientific basis, it has been confirmed.”.
APP claimed that a letter issued by Integrated Paper Services (IPS), the company that provided the testing services Greenpeace used to demonstrate the existence of mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) fiber — typically sourced from natural forests — in APP products, disproved Greenpeace’s claims.
How APP is Toying with Extinction – PDF
“Greenpeace based its entire global campaign against APP on a single premise: it had commissioned tests which proved that APP products contained Indonesian rainforest fibre. The company Greenpeace asked to carry out the tests has admitted this claim cannot be justified,” said Aida Greenbury, APP Managing Director, in a statement.
“If there were any MTH materials in the packaging, it is highly likely (95%) that they came from recycled material. Or they came from a sustainably managed forest in another part of the world, for example South America.”
But while APP is resolute in its assertions that its paper products do not contain tropical forest fiber, Greenpeace is insistent its campaign is well-supported by the facts. The green group specifically disputes points raised in APP’s press release.
“APP, apparently with the support of their PR company, Cohn and Wolfe, has very deliberately misrepresented the work that IPS have undertaken for Greenpeace,” said Greenpeace forest campaigner Andy Tait, in an email to mongabay.com. “The clearest example of this comes through the reference in their press release to the testing of recycled fibre content.”
APP Sustainability Report 2008/2009
“Firstly, IPS was asked to test the virgin fibre component of the packaging products, a fact that was ignored. Secondly, IPS testing procedures do identify recycled fibre content if present, a fact that was also ignored. Finally APP appears to imply that IPS gave them specific information about testing for recycled fibre content, something that IPS has confirmed is not the case.”
Tait added that APP’s premise that Greenpeace’s “entire global campaign against APP on a single premise: it had commissioned tests which proved that APP products contained Indonesian rainforest fibre” was also false.
“The conclusion that our campaign against APP is based on a single premise is ridiculous,” he said. “We’ve got a mountain of evidence linking APP to rainforest destruction, starting with APP’s own documents.”
“And then we have our own research. By carrying out overflights of APP concession areas we have repeatedly documented, using GPS images, large-scale rainforest clearance by APP’s suppliers. Our mappers have pinpointed deforestation in APP supplier concessions, our on-the-ground investigations have tracked the timber from these areas to APP mills, and our chain-of-custody research links the products from these mills to global brands like those in the toy sector.”
“Forensic testing has also confirmed the presence of rainforest fibre (mixed tropical hardwood/ MTH) in a number of APP products that we had tested. Given that Indonesia is the only commercial scale producer of MTH for pulp, this evidence shows us that these materials indeed come from Indonesian rainforest destruction.”
The 1.3 million hectare Kerumutan Peat Swamp Forest.
APP disagreed. It suggested that any presence of MTH could be attributed to contamination from recycled fiber used in other layers of toy packaging or from sources outside of Indonesia. “The testing cannot indicate presence of ‘Indonesian rainforest fibre’ in APP products,” APP told mongabay.com. “The testing says nothing about whether the MTH fibres they claim to have found were from sustainable sources or not.”
APP added that the top sheet of a multi-layered paper product could not be tested in isolation because it would not be possible to separate it from the surface of the carton stock. Furthermore, APP said, “in a finished product sample, both virgin and recycled fibers are already mixed together into the finished product as part of the production process.”
Other sources cast doubt on APP’s assertion that MTH would have come from other sources. “Indonesia is the only country where MTH is used in large-scale pulp production,” stated Twotogether, a paper trade journal, in a 2004 analysis of the MTH market.
Graphic from Greenpeace’s How APP is Toying with Extinction report explaining how MTH fits into its campaign.
“As far as I know, the only mixed tropical hardwood pulp commercially available in the world comes from Indonesia,” said Lafcadio Cortesi of the Rainforest Action Network, an advocacy group in the midst of a campaign to reform practices of APP and APRIL, another Indonesian pulp and paper producer. “A pulp broker I spoke with said ’99 percent of MTH is from Indonesia.'”
“MTH is not a regular fiber source,” Dr. Heinz-Joachim Schaffrath of the Institution for Paper Science and Technology, a paper services firm based in Darmstadt, Germany, told mongabay.com. “What we observed during all the analysis we had to carry out in the last months is that only with paper or pulp coming from Indonesia or China we had to state that there is a suspicion of MTH.”
The Institution for Paper Science and Technology was not involved in analysis of APP’s fiber but added that it would likely be to determine whether MTH in a virgin fiber layer was the product of contamination from adjacent layers below.
“Usually it is possible to separate a top layer from the others. However, the statement of the company is correct, we have to expect fibers from the second layer, too. But this contamination is only a small amount of the total fibers. And the secondary fibers of the middle layers do usually not consist of 100% MTH.”
“MTH is expected to be a small amount of fibers in waste paper as a secondary fiber source. Therefore, the probability to find unknown fibers in a top layer made from virgin pulp originating from the secondary fibers in the under layer is very small.”
Fiber layers in an APP product. Greenpeace says it commissioned IPS to test only the top glossy layer for traces of MTH. The glossy layer consists of virgin fiber content derived from two types of pulp: softwood (NBKP) and hardwood (LBKP). In the case of APP, LBKP would likely be derived from acacia, MTH, and/or eucalyptus. MTH generally does not come from timber plantations.
Greenpeace said IPS testing revealed the top sheet of APP’s toy packaging product to be about 50 percent, well beyond a trace amount.
APP’s representation of the contents of the letter from IPS has also been called into question. APP has refused to make the actual letter from IPS publicly available, but has quoted selectively from it in making its case against the Greenpeace campaign. “Greenpeace seriously misled the toy industry by claiming that it had scientifically proven APP’s products contained ‘Indonesian rainforest fibres’,” said APP. “The tests showed no such thing, as the CEO of IPS has confirmed.”
APP said the letter referred to testing of APP fiber found in both Cottonsoft, a New Zealand toilet paper brand, and toy packaging. But Greenpeace refutes this. It also says that IPS did not disclose its specific testing methods to APP.
Without the full text of the letter, it is unclear what IPS said. This is significant because last year APP was criticized for misrepresenting an “audit” conducted on its behalf by a firm run by forestry lobbyist Alan Oxley. In September 2010, APP announced in a press release that the “audit” had cleared it of allegations levied by Greenpeace, yet the report effectively confirmed that APP was indeed engaged in conversion of ‘deep’ peat areas. The “audit” argued that this activity isn’t illegal under Indonesian law, while citing irrelevant data about Indonesia’s forest cover and erroneously argued that plantation industries are not significant drivers of deforestation in Indonesia. A group of prominent scientists subsequently said this effort represented an attempt to “muddy the waters” on deforestation.
“I’ve become very leery of the way APP represents itself,” said William Laurance, a tropical ecologist at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. “They produce TV commercials and ad campaigns that make them sound like Mother Nature, but in reality they’re one of the biggest forest-destroyers in the world. Their association with Alan Oxley is, in my view, a prime example of their frequently deceptive approach, given Oxley’s well-known role as a paid defender and apologist for industrial forestry interests linked to large-scale deforestation.”
Greenpeace says APP’s latest press release looks like an attempt to “sow seeds of doubt… we assume that the plan is to persuade journalists that our evidence isn’t reliable or robust, so they would be less interested to cover our stories about APP.”
Bustar Maitar, Head of Indonesian Forest Campaign, said APP’s press release even alludes to a “smear campaign” currently being conducted against Greenpeace in Indonesia. Last month Tait and John Sauven, Greenpeace International’s Executive Director, encountered immigration troubles in Indonesia, while last week the Indonesian headquarters has been ordered closed by a Jakarta authority for alleged “zoning violations.” At the same time, rhetoric about Greenpeace’s “foreign funding sources” has become more heated.
“Greenpeace is under escalating attack in Indonesia now, at the same time that our campaign work against APP has increased here and around the world. One of the claims used to attack us is that we represent so called ‘ foreign interests’, claims that have no basis in fact,” Bustar told mongabay.com. “The use of this type of term by APP is almost certainly deliberate, despite the fact the company knows very well that our office, registered in Indonesia and led by Indonesian staff, is leading our campaign here. It’s yet another poorly thought through attempt to deflect attention from the real issue, which is APP’s continued involvement in deforestation.”
Bustar also objected to the APP press release’s assertion that Greenpeace is trying to stop foreign toy companies from doing business in Indonesia. “That is a total misrepresentation of our work,” he said. “We are simply asking toy companies and those from other sectors to source their materials in a responsible way, by not doing business with APP until the company stops relying on forest destruction to feed its pulp mills.”
For its part, APP maintains it abides by Indonesian laws and is committed to reducing its impact on forests. “APP is committed to continuous improvement of its sustainability practices and wants to work closely with all concerned stakeholders, including NGOs, to support sustainable development in Indonesia,” said Greenbury.
But until APP provides solid evidence refuting Greenpeace’s accusation that its pulp and paper production isn’t coming at the expense of natural forests in Indonesia, APP will have a difficult time winning over critics.
“APP has misled us before,” said ecologist Laurance. “Why should we believe them this time around?”
Editor’s note. In order to allay any potential concerns about misrepresentation of statements, below is the context of the quotes from APP and Greenpeace used in this story.
Q&A with Greenpeace
mongabay.com: According to APP, the letter from IPS says the testing doesn’t prove country of origin for APP’s fiber. Does Greenpeace believer otherwise?
Andy Tait: Greenpeace did not claim that the tests in-and-of themselves identify or ‘prove’ country of origin. But it’s clear that the MTH fibre test results do, in this case, indicate or ‘show’ the country of origin as Indonesia, because Indonesia is the only country where MTH is harvested at a commercial scale for pulp. The presence of acacia in the test results provides further supporting evidence that Indonesia is the origin of the pulp fibre; acacia pulpwood plantations are mainly being harvested from Indonesia at this time, with APP being one of the largest producers.
I note with interest that APP has provided no evidence to support their claim that any MTH found in these products would be coming from PEFC certified forests around the world. Perhaps they could also explain where the acacia in these products has come from if not from Indonesia?
mongabay.com: In its press release, APP states: “Greenpeace based its entire global campaign against APP on a single premise: it had commissioned tests which proved that APP products contained Indonesian rainforest fibre. The company Greenpeace asked to carry out the tests has admitted this claim cannot be justified.” Is this an accurate conclusion?
Andy Tait: The claim that our campaign against APP is based on a single premise is frankly, laughable. We’ve got a mountain of evidence linking APP to rainforest destruction, and it starts with APP’s own documents. Some of these documents are public, like its latest corporate social responsibility report in which APP admits that it uses rainforest fibre, though it prefers to refer to this in PR-speak as “mixed wood residues”. And then we have our own research. By carrying out overflights of APP concession areas we have repeatedly documented, using GPS images, large-scale rainforest clearance by APP’s suppliers. Our mappers have pinpointed deforestation in APP concessions, our on-the-ground investigations have tracked the timber from these areas to APP mills, and our chain-of-custody research links the products from these mills to global brands like those in the toy sector.
Forensic testing has also confirmed the presence of rainforest fibre (mixed tropical hardwood/ MTH) in a number of APP products that we had tested. Given that Indonesia is the only commercial scale producer of MTH for pulp, this evidence shows us that these materials indeed come from Indonesian rainforest destruction. The presence of acacia in the test results provides further evidence that Indonesia is the origin of the pulp fibre; acacia pulpwood plantations are mainly being harvested from Indonesia at this time, with APP being one of the largest producers. I note with interest that APP has provided no evidence to support their claim that any MTH found in these products would be coming from PEFC certified forests around the world. Perhaps they could also explain where the acacia in these products has come from if not from Indonesia?
mongabay.com: Did APP’s press release represent the scope of IPS’s work for Greenpeace?
Andy Tait: APP, apparently with the support of their PR company Cohn and Wolfe, has very deliberately misrepresented the work that IPS have undertaken for Greenpeace. The clearest example of this comes through the reference in their press release to the testing of recycled fibre content. Firstly, IPS only tested the virgin fibre component of the packaging products, a fact that was ignored. Secondly, IPS testing procedures do identify recycled fibre content if present, a fact that was also ignored. Finally APP appear to imply that IPS gave them specific information about testing for recycled fibre content, something that IPS have confirmed is not the case.
mongabay.com: Are you campaigning to stop toy companies from doing business in Indonesia?
Bustar Maitar: No, of course we aren’t campaigning to stop toy companies doing business in Indonesia, that is a total misrepresentation of our work. We are simply asking toy companies and those from other sectors to source their materials in a responsible way, by not doing business with APP until the company stops relying on forest destruction to feed its pulp mills.
mongabay.com: Why does APP’s press release highlight “Amsterdam-based NGO”?
Bustar Maitar: Greenpeace is under escalating attack in Indonesia now, at the same time that our campaign work against APP has increased here and around the world. One of the claims used to attack us is that we represent so called ‘ foreign interests’, claims that have no basis in fact. The use of this type of term by APP is almost certainly deliberate, despite the fact the company knows very well that our office, registered in Indonesia and led by Indonesian staff, is leading our campaign here. It’s yet another poorly thought through attempt to deflect attention from the real issue, which is APP’s continued involvement in deforestation.
Q&A with APP
mongabay.com: Greenpeace tested virgin fiber for MTH, not recycled fiber. Why is APP citing recycled fiber?
APP: Greenpeace did not test ‘virgin fibre’. They commissioned Integrated Paper Services (IPS) to conduct fibre testing of several varieties of toy packaging. Greenpeace did not know whether the packaging was recycled, virgin or otherwise. APP has been consistent in saying that 95% of our packaging for toy products comes from recycled material. The remaining 5% comes from PEFC-certified forests in other parts of the world. IPS did not conduct any tests to determine whether our fibre was recycled. IPS has also made it clear that Greenpeace’s allegation – that their forensic testing ‘proves’ APP’s products contain ‘Indonesian rainforest fibre’ – is unscientific.
mongabay.com: Is APP asserting that all non-recycled fiber is from sustainable sources? If so, where is the evidence for this?
APP: There is very clear evidence that the non-recycled fibre in our toy packaging comes from sustainable sources. The 5% which was not recycled comes from sustainably managed forests in other parts of the world, for example South America, which are certified by PEFC, the largest forest certification programme in the world. Wood legality, certification and rigorous Chain of Custody policies are at the heart of APP’s operations. Consequently, of the raw materials we sources from our pulpwood suppliers:
– 35 per cent of the wood comes from recycled wood and paper.
– 30 per cent is certified by various legal certification programmes.
– 10 per cent is verified as being of legal origin (legally harvested
under Indonesian law).
– 25 per cent is from non-controversial sources in line with PEFC
mongabay.com: APP openly admits it is logging [editor’s note: should have been “sourcing from”] natural forests for pulp and paper production (it has missed both of its deadlines for 100% sourcing from plantations). If this fiber doesn’t go into packaging products, what is it used for? In 2009 APP China relied on imported wood for two-thirds of its fiber for pulp production.
APP: APP is not a ‘logging company’. Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) is brand umbrella for paper products manufactured by a number of mills in Indonesia, inter alia PT. Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Tbk, PT. Pindo Deli Pulp and Paper Mills, PT. Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia Tbk, PT. Lontar Papyrus Pulp & Paper Industries, PT. Ekamas Fortuna and PT. The Univenus in Indonesia. The majority of APP’s production facilities hold Chain-of-Custody certification from LEI and PEFC. Wood legality is central to all of our operations, and our Chain of Custody policies ensure that no illegal wood enters our supply chain.
mongabay.com: Greenpeace states in its documentation (since confirmed via email) that it did test the “virgin fibre component” of the toy packaging. Did APP confirm with IPS that it did not actually test the virgin fibre component?
APP: IPS specifically clarified that they did not conduct any tests to determine whether the packaging fibre was recycled or otherwise. This means that the MTH found in the samples could be from recycled or virgin fiber. The response from Greenpeace further establishes their lack of understanding on the IPS analysis and testing method employed, since in a finished product sample, both virgin and recycled fibers are already mixed together into the finished product as part of the production process.
mongabay.com: Greenpeace did not claim that IPS’s testing proved on its own that the fiber was from Indonesian forests — Greenpeace says its claim is based on the combination of IPS’s work and supply chain analysis.
APP: We would draw your attention to Greenpeace’s report and statements which repetitively and directly mention “Forensic testing shows that packaging used by leading toy brands regularly contains Indonesian rainforest fibre.” If it is not the intention of Greenpeace to make the claim that it was forensic testing that proves the fiber was from Indonesian forests, then this is clearly a false statement and therefore misleading to the general readers.
mongabay.com I’d like clarification on APP on its assertion that “IPS specifically clarified that they did not conduct any tests to determine whether the packaging fibre was recycled or otherwise.” Can APP quote the exact language to that effect in the IPS letter?
This is relevant because APP’s own product specs for packaging boards used for toys (attached) show that the top sheet is virgin fiber content. According to Greenpeace’s website, IPS tested “the virgin fibre content of the glossy top layer of packaging board”.
The product specs [editor: product specifications for a Sinar Mas product were attached] appear to contradict APP’s claim that recycled and virgin fiber is mixed together.
APP: This is not an environmental report on the product. Can you tell us which of these terms you believe indicates the presence of purely virgin fibre?
mongabay.com This is based on several conversations I’ve now had on this issue with about a dozen people. Does APP use recycled materials in its virgin fiber? My understanding is that LBKP used by APP comes from acacia, mixed tropical hardwoods, and/or eucalyptus.
This brings up another issue. Why does the press release refer to fiber testing in New Zealand as well as the toy sector?
APP: This product spec proves what APP has been saying all along: that APP Indonesia’s duplex packaging is made up of 95% recycled materials, and the remaining 5% is from PEFC certified, and legal, sustainable forests around the world. Therefore, Greenpeace is attacking a product that is inherently good for the environment.
As we have previously mentioned, IPS clarified that they did not perform tests to determine whether the packaging fibre was from recycled materials or otherwise, nor can country of origin be determined.
Consequently, APP stands by its statement of last week – that Greenpeace seriously misled the toy industry by claiming that it had scientifically proven APP’s products contained ‘Indonesian rainforest fibres’. The tests showed no such thing, as the CEO of IPS has confirmed.”
Toymaker Hasbro cuts deforestation from its supply chain
(11/01/2011) Hasbro, the second largest American toy company, today announced a new packaging policy that excludes the use of fiber produced via destruction of rainforests, reports Greenpeace.
Second Greenpeace activist deported from Indonesia
(10/20/2011) Andy Tait became the second Greenpeace campaigner deported from Indonesia in less than a week.
Paper suppliers risk damaging Indonesia’s reputation, argues report
(10/07/2011) Indonesia needs to re-evaluate forest areas and peatlands granted for pulp and paper plantations to reduce the risk of damaging the international reputation of its forest products and undermining its commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reductions, argues a new report published by an Indonesian activist group.
Toy giant Mattel drops paper from APP and other ‘controversial sources’
(10/05/2011) The world’s biggest toy-maker Mattel has pledged to overhaul its paper sourcing policies after a hard-hitting campaign from Greenpeace linked the toy giant to rainforest destruction in Indonesia by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Today, Mattel pledged to increase the use of recycled paper and sustainably-certified fiber to 70 percent by the year’s end, and 85 percent by 2015. In addition, the company has said any ‘controversial’ company engaged in natural forest destruction will be kept out of its supply line, referring to, but not naming directly, APP. Surprisingly, APP told mongabay.com that it ‘applauds’ Mattel’s new commitments.
Asia Pulp & Paper to undertake human rights audit
(09/22/2011) Paper products giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) will undertake a human rights audit across its Indonesian operations. The move, which APP says is an acknowledgment of a recent United Nations call for the global protection of human rights by businesses, comes as APP intensifies its effort to improve its image abroad. APP, a brand for paper products manufactured by several subsidiaries in Indonesia, has been beset by criticism from environmental and human rights group over its development of timber plantations on the island of Sumatra. The complaints have cost APP a number of prominent customers.
Supermarket challenges toilet paper marker to disprove deforestation allegations
(08/31/2011) A major New Zealand supermarket chain has asked Cottonsoft to prove its environmental credentials after testing by WWF and Greenpeace revealed the toilet paper maker was using mixed tropical hardwoods sourced from Indonesia’s rainforests in its tissue. reports The Dominion Post.
APP affiliate ‘regrets’ astroturfing on Indonesia deforestation claims
(08/21/2011) Solaris, an Australian affiliate of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), has been caught astroturfing an article that repeated criticism of APP from Greenpeace. The article, which appeared on Mumbrella—an Australian media and marketing news site—garnered a multitude of negative comments which were later tracked to IP addresses used by Solaris. Astroturfing is corporate or government messaging falsified as coming from the public or a grassroots movement.
Lego banishes Asia Pulp & Paper due to deforestation link
(07/07/2011) In response to a campaign by Greenpeace asserting that packaging used for its iconic toy building blocks is contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, the LEGO Group on Thursday announced it is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials and paper used in its products.
Mattel shuts down Barbie’s Facebook page in response to Greenpeace campaign
(06/10/2011) Mattel shut down the comment function on the Barbie Facebook fan page after Greenpeace supporters barraged the page with complaints about the company’s use of packaging materials linked to destruction of rainforests in Indonesia.
Mattel to investigate toy packaging sources after Greenpeace alleges deforestation link
(06/09/2011) Mattel will investigate the sources of its packaging material following a prominent campaign by Greenpeace that linked the Los Angeles-based toy-maker to deforestation in Indonesia. In a statement, Mattel said it “does it contract directly with Sinar Mas/APP” — the paper products Greenpeace has tied to destruction of rainforests in Sumatra. But Mattel said it has instructed its packaging suppliers to stop sourcing pulp from Sinar Mas/APP until it has investigated the Greenpeace’s allegations.
Indonesia’s anti-mafia unit seeks to reopen $115 billion illegal logging case
(06/08/2011) Indonesia’s Anti-Mafia Law Task Force asked authorities Tuesday to reopen an investigation into illegal logging that may have cost the Indonesian state $115 billion.
Barbie, Legos, other toys linked to destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests
(06/07/2011) Some of the world’s largest and most prominent toy-makers are sourcing their packaging materials from companies linked to large-scale destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, alleges a new report from Greenpeace. The report, How APP is Toying with Extinction, is based on forensic analysis of toy packaging from Mattel, which manufacturers Barbie and Hot Wheels toys; Disney, which makes a variety of toys linked to its movies; Hasbro, which produces GI Joe, Star Wars, and Sesame Street toys and various games like Monopoly and Scrabble; and Lego, which makes the iconic plastic building blocks. The analysis found traces of mixed-tropical hardwood (MTH) and acacia fiber which are principally sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), an umbrella paper products brand that sources from several companies that have been linked to rainforest destruction in Sumatra.
Is Indonesia losing its most valuable assets?
(05/16/2011) Deep in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo in the late 1980s, researchers made an incredible discovery: the bark of a species of peat swamp tree yielded an extract with potent anti-HIV activity. An anti-HIV drug made from the compound is now nearing clinical trials. It could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year and help improve the lives of millions of people. This story is significant for Indonesia because its forests house a similar species. In fact, Indonesia’s forests probably contain many other potentially valuable species, although our understanding of these is poor. Given Indonesia’s biological richness — Indonesia has the highest number of plant and animal species of any country on the planet — shouldn’t policymakers and businesses be giving priority to protecting and understanding rainforests, peatlands, mountains, coral reefs, and mangrove ecosystems, rather than destroying them for commodities?
7 conglomerates control 9M ha of land in Indonesia
(05/05/2011) Efforts to slow deforestation in Indonesia should include curtailing further expansion of forestry holdings by giant conglomerates, says an Indonesian activist group. Analyzing data from the Ministry of Forest’s Production Forest Utilization Quarterly Report, Jakarta-based Greenomics-Indonesia found that seven conglomerates in Indonesia control more than 9 million hectares of land, including large forest concessions that will likely be exempt from any moratorium on forest clearing established under the country’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program. The extent of holdings could complicate Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions from logging and plantation development.
Pulp and paper firms urged to save 1.2M ha of forest slated for clearing in Indonesia
(03/17/2011) Indonesian environmental groups launched a urgent plea urging the country’s two largest pulp and paper companies not to clear 800,000 hectares of forest and peatland in their concessions in Sumatra. Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs, released maps showing that Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) control blocks of land representing 31 percent of the remaining forest in the province of Riau, one of Sumatra’s most forested provinces. Much of the forest lies on deep peat, which releases large of amount of carbon when drained and cleared for timber plantations.
Does chopping down rainforests for pulp and paper help alleviate poverty in Indonesia?
(01/13/2011) Over the past several years, Asia Pulp & Paper has engaged in a marketing campaign to represent its operations in Sumatra as socially and environmentally sustainable. APP and its agents maintain that industrial pulp and paper production — as practiced in Sumatra — does not result in deforestation, is carbon neutral, helps protect wildlife, and alleviates poverty. While a series of analyses and reports have shown most of these assertions to be false, the final claim has largely not been contested. But is conversion of lowland rainforests for pulp and paper really in Indonesia’s best economic interest?
Pulp plantations destroying Sumatra’s rainforests
(11/30/2010) Indonesia’s push to become the world’s largest supplier of palm oil and a major pulp and paper exporter has taken a heavy toll on the rainforests and peatlands of Sumatra, reveals a new assessment of the island’s forest cover by WWF. The assessment, based on analysis of satellite imagery, shows Sumatra has lost nearly half of its natural forest cover since 1985. The island’s forests were cleared and converted at a rate of 542,000 hectares, or 2.1 percent, per year. More than 80 percent of forest loss occurred in lowland areas, where the most biodiverse and carbon-dense ecosystems are found.
Indonesian logging company makes ‘deceptive’ claims on carbon conservation project
(11/24/2010) A major wood-pulp company is misleading the public over its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon conservation project in Sumatra, claims Greenomics, an Indonesian activist group.
Asia Pulp & Paper fumbles response to deforestation allegations by Greenpeace
(09/28/2010) A new audit that seems to exonerate Asia Pulp & Paper from damaging logging practices in Indonesia was in fact conducted by the same people that are running its PR efforts, raising questions about the much maligned company’s commitment to cleaning up its operations. The audit slams Greenpeace, the activist group that accused Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) of illegal and destructive logging in Sumatra in its July 2010 report, How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet. It runs through each of the claims laid out in the Greenpeace report, arguing some are speculative or improperly cited. But the audit doesn’t actually deny that APP is clearing forests and peatlands for pulp plantations. In fact, the audit effectively confirms that the company is indeed engaged in conversion of ‘deep’ peat areas, but argues that this activity isn’t illegal under Indonesian law.