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Indonesian logger faces expulsion from business sustainability group

Peat canal drained by PT LUM, an APRIL supplier, following natural forest clearance in Pulau Tebing Tinggi. Photo by: Eyes on the Forest.

Indonesian pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (ARPIL) faces expulsion from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a body of 200 large companies that have made sustainability commitments, if it fails to stop clearing rainforests and peatlands on the island of Sumatra, reports Greenpeace.

According to a letter from the WBCSD, APRIL has been put on “formal probation” to “to adjust its forest management and fiber procurement practices to align with the spirit and intent” of the association’s principles, mission, and objectives”. APRIL has twelve months to come into compliance or face expulsion.

The WBCSD has also asked APRIL to “consider transferring membership to its parent company – the [Royal Golden Eagle] RGE Group covering all its various operating units; including prospects of aligning RGE’s other forest industry operations with the FSG membership principles”, a move that would effectively commit APRIL’s sister logging and palm oil companies to abide by the coalition’s sustainability standards.

Peat drainage canal and stacks of MTH harvested from forest clearance by APRIL wood supplier PT. RAPP in Kampar peninsula. Some CITES-protected ramin trees were “saved” and left standing. Photo taken by Eyes on the Forest at N°17’52.36” E102°43’22.29” on 10 February 2012.

Greenpeace, which has been urging the WBCSD to take action for months, welcomed the development.

“When an organization led by CEOs of some of the world’s biggest corporations threatens to kick it out of the club, then you would think APRIL would listen,” said Phil Aikman, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace. “It’s time for APRIL to take this threat seriously and finally implement an immediate moratorium on all further forest clearance. If companies like APP can, then what is APRIL waiting for?”

Recent data from Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry indicates that 60 percent of the wood APRIL uses in its mills comes from natural forests. The company is therefore one of the largest deforesters in Sumatra.

Activists have stepped up campaigns to change APRIL’s sourcing practices after its biggest competitor — Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) — signed a comprehensive forest conservation policy last February. APRIL has no such policy.

“Given APRIL’s recent heavy dependence on rainforest fiber, Greenpeace has serious concerns about APRIL’s commitment to a zero deforestation policy and any ambition it may have to become 100% reliant on plantation fiber,” said Aikman. “Greenpeace will continue to expose APRIL and RGE’s role in forest destruction and cut through the game of smoke and mirrors the company is playing with its customers.”

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