Greenpeace refutes APP

Environmental groups echoing to protect Yunnan forest heritage

Press release - 2005-01-17
Greenpeace today refuted the Sinar Mas Group-Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) 's recent claims that deny its illegal logging in Yunnan. Noting that "APP has not provided any convincing evidence to prove its innocence," Greenpeace appealed that APP "stops fooling the public and immediately acknowledges its mistakes." Greenpeace also publicized dozens of domestic and international environmental groups' position of supporting Greenpeace in protecting Yunnan forest heritage.

Greenpeace forest campaigners protesting giant logging company, Asia Pulp & Paper's (APP), large-scale logging operation in China's most ecologically diverse province, Yunnan. Large swathes of native forest are being clearcut and replaced with non-native eucalyptus trees.

Greenpeace today refuted the Sinar Mas Group-Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) 's recent claims that deny its illegal logging in Yunnan. Noting that "APP has not provided any convincing evidence to prove its innocence," Greenpeace appealed that APP "stops fooling the public and immediately acknowledges its mistakes." Greenpeace also publicized dozens of domestic and international environmental groups' position of supporting Greenpeace in protecting Yunnan forest heritage.

APP published a statement at paperloop.com, a famous worldwide paper industry website, on 6th January, to deny the Greenpeace condemnation of its illegal logging in Southwest China's Yunnan province. On 12th January, APP China held a press conference in Shanghai to continue denying its illegal logging in Yunnan. At the conference, APP China General Manager Yao Xusheng claimed that "APP never did anything such as `illegal logging, which severely affects the ecological environment and encroaches on the interests of forest farmers' in Yunnan." To all the APP false claims, Greenpeace officially responded today.

Greenpeace China Forest Protection Associate Campaigner Liu Bing said, "APP has a track record of forest destruction in Southeast Asia. Its illegal logging in Yunnan is just an example. In its public statements, APP did not present the true picture and failed to justify itself. APP' s insincere statement shows the company's lack of commitment to protect the environment.

In response to APP, Greenpeace restates the following four points:

1. The evidence Greenpeace provided on 16th December 2004 included the first-handed information Greenpeace obtained in its three field investigations, along with reports written by theState Forestry Administration (SFA) and Provincial Forestry Bureau. Those data fully proved that APP illegal logging in Yunnan truly exists. We hope that APP provides data that are as convincing as ours so that the public could make their own judgment.

2. Greenpeace believes that the fact that there is no APP pulp and paper factory in Yunnan does not prove that APP did not conduct illegal logging in Yunnan, and that APP has reaped staggering profits in Yunnan from illegal logging. APP's illegal logging aims at cleaning the forestland to develop its bases for artificial forests, in other words "damaging existing forests to develop plantations." Additionally, APP gained sudden huge profits from the forest destruction. It is said that the Government Procurement protective price for Simao Pine is at nearly RMB300 (US$36) per cubic meter, while the average market price is RMB470 (US$57). But, according to the contracts between Sinar Mas Groups and local government, the transfer price of the woods from the bases is RMB70 (about US$8.8). It is estimated that Sinar Mas has reaped a profit of more than RMB10 Billion (about US$1.2 Billion) from the margin between the contract price and market one in woods re-transfer alone.

3.APP plantation projects in Yunnan aim at its own interest. We want to remind APP of the fact that the objective of its "woodland plantation" in Yunnan is totally different from the one of the Chinese government, i.e. to restore ecological balance. We demand that APP should not stealthily alter the conceptions to fool the public. Chinese government does have the plan for integration of forests, pulp and paper. Nevertheless, Chinese government does not allow illegal logging and natural forests destruction.

4. Greenpeace appeals to APP once again that APP cautiously reviews and readjusts its 27.5Million mu (1.83 Million hectares) plan before its overall implementation in Yunnan in case that the situation would be irreversible by the time the ecological disaster breaks up.

It is learned that, after completing its recent investigation in Yunnan, the SFA issued on 7th January 2005 a report entitled "The Circular about Issues in Sinar Mas Paper Investment (China) Projects of Raw Materials Plantations in Yunnan Province" (No.4 [2005] issued by the Resources Management Dept. , SFA). The Circular mentioned that: (The Sinar Mas Group-APP China's) destruction of natural forests in developing its raw materials plantations does exist; that the total area is 9,580 mu (639 hectares); that APP has stored up 24,709 cubic meter woods without applying for the Woods Logging Permit. The Circular also covers issues such as APP plantation plans in Yunnan leading to the forest farmers' interest being encroached on and state assets lost. The conclusion reached by the SFA Report coincides with those by the investigative reports that Greenpeace published earlier on.

Liu stressed that APP's forest destruction in China is consistent with its practice in Southeast Asia. Currently APP is in the crisis of being sued in another country. According to the 6th January report by Asia Times, the Cambodian Minister of Environment Mok Mareth has announced that the Ministry is preparing a legal action against Green Elite, a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper company (APP), which has been illegally logging Botum Sakor National Park.

It is also learned that the hearing for the court case APP sued against the Zhejiang Hotel Association (ZHA), originally scheduled on 14th January, has been postponed. Meanwhile, 12 domestic college student environmental groups and a number of personal consumers issued on 11th January joint support letters to the ZHA to "call for, with our voice and actions, APP immediately ceasing forest destruction in Yunnan Province," following 16 domestic environmental groups issuing the joint letter to support ZHA on 9th January. On 12th January, 22 international environmental groups including Global Witness and Friends of the Earth Indonesia publicized a worldwide joint statement to emphasize that "APP has never ceased its environmentally, ecologically, and socially destructive operations" and demand that APP "put a moratorium on the operations in Cambodia and Yunnan, China, and withdraw the court case against ZHA." The condemnation is still going on across the world. Up to the time this Press Release is issued, the total number of international environmental groups ready to sign the joint statement has amounted to 25.

Greenpeace China Campaigner Zhong Yu said, "We believe that this APP issue has escalated from a confrontation between Greenpeace and Sinar Mas to an international environmental defense. Instead of repeating its mistakes, APP should admit its illegal operations in Yunnan and put an end to its negative denying. By acknowledging its malpractice in Yunnan, China, and Southeast Asia, APP would obtain more time for self-examination and problem solving."

"If APP does not immediately cease its destruction of China's natural forests, Greenpeace China will consider initiating a worldwide boycott against APP," Zhong stressed.

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