Cleared acacia plantation in Riau, Sumatra, with native peat forest in the background. The pulp and paper sector has been one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in parts of Sumatra since the early 1990’s. Riau, Jambi, and South Sumatra have been particularly affected.
The world’s largest publishing companies have adopted policies that significantly curtail use of paper sourced from rainforest destruction and social conflict, finds a new assessment published by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).
The report looks at sourcing policies for the ten biggest publishing houses: Candlewick Press, Disney, Hachette, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, MacMillan, Pearson / Penguin, Random House, Scholastic, and Simon and Schuster and compares these with the state of the industry in 2010, when RAN found that nine of ten top book publishers were using paper linked to conversion of Indonesia rainforests and only five had sourcing policies. The contrast is stark.
“In the last four years, most major publishers have improved policies and commitments, adopted fiber testing and verification tools and taken action to ensure their policies are implemented,” said RAN. “Many publishers have gone beyond their initial commitments, innovating a set of best practices, including outreach with supply chain partners, such as overseas printers.”
Forest clearing for a plantation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Photos by Rhett A. Butler
RAN says the practices and policies being adopted by the surveyed publishers are providing models for others in the industry, opening the door for market transformation.
“Progress on the part of the publishers is creating a positive ripple effect and meaningful change for Indonesian forests,” the activist group said, adding that there are still laggards in the business.
“Our report finds that major publishers are doing the hard work needed to root out rainforest destruction from their supply chains. This ‘race to the top’ has positive implications for forests and forest-dependent peoples worldwide, ” said Christy Tennery-Spalding, forest campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, in a statement. “While there have been big changes in the way book publishers do business, there is still an urgent need to reform remaining bad actors, like Indonesia’s reckless logging giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).”
APRIL is Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper producer, after Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which last year established a zero deforestation policy and has now committed to restoring and protecting large blocks of Indonesian rainforest and peatlands. Environmentalists say that APRIL’s policy is much weaker than APP’s, allowing it to continue sourcing fiber from natural forest areas until 2020. While APRIL is now working with Flora and Fauna International to improve its environmental performance, it is increasingly in the crosshairs of campaigners over its policy.
CITATION: Rainforest Action Network. A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice. MaY 14, 2014