Pulp, paper and palm oil
Riau, 2010: Kerumutan peat swamp forest.
The government of Indonesia identified the pulp and paper sector and the palm oil sector as the main drivers of this deforestation. In May 2011, it established a two-year moratorium on new concessions (permits) for the clearance of rainforests and peatlands for pulp and palm oil plantations.
But as a result of industry influence, the moratorium is limited. It is restricted to areas of primary forest and peatland outside existing concessions. Greenpeace mappers have calculated that, in its current state, the moratorium will offer little additional protection to Indonesia's forests and peatlands. Forest and peatland within existing concessions are not covered, and millions of hectares of rainforest are being reclassified as 'degraded lands' available for clearance and development.
In fact, both the paper and palm oil sectors are gearing up for massive expansion, with targets to treble pulp production over the next 15 years and double palm oil production in the next decade. Without a radical change of approach, millions more hectares of remaining forested habitat will be put at risk.
The Sinar Mas Group
The leading player in both the pulp and the palm oil sectors is the Sinar Mas Group: Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is the pulp division; Golden Agri Resources (GAR) is the palm oil division. While GAR introduced a forest conservation policy in 2011 'to ensure that its palm oil operations have no deforestation footprint', APP announced that it would need to remain dependent on clearance of Indonesia's rainforests until the end of 2015.
The largest pulp and paper producer in Indonesia (and claiming to be the third largest in the world), APP has a corporate strategy based on the continuing exploitation of Indonesia's irreplaceable rainforest areas for consumer products – all the while making bold claims about its environmental and social commitments.
Riau, 2010: clearance of peat swamp forest in Kerumutan.
Greenpeace has been working on the ground in Indonesia, at the frontline of forest destruction, for years. Our investigations and detailed analysis of satellite deforestation data show that APP's suppliers are deliberately destroying rainforest, including areas mapped as tiger habitat and carbon-rich peatlands to feed APP's pulp mills.
Deep peatland continues to be illegally drained and cleared – in fact, it is actively targeted by APP's suppliers. They are continuing to clear areas of incredible biodiversity, such as the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape in Central Sumatra, one of the last refuges for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger and home to one of the only successful reintroduction programmes for the endangered Sumatran orang-utan.
We've mapped our findings here. In the interests of transparency, we are also making available the primary documents on which our evidence relies in the hope that this will enable public scrutiny of the actions of an industry that, to date, has been characterised by obfuscation and corruption.
So, how to stop the destruction?
The chain of custody
In 2011, Sinar Mas' palm oil company, Golden Agri Resources, announced a new forest conservation policy a) to protect high conservation value areas via independent assessments b) not to develop plantations on peat and c) to protect high carbon storage areas. Meanwhile, APP's suppliers continue to expand into forest and peatland areas. We want to see similar action by APP and are pressing the company to follow GAR's lead.
APP's rainforest pulp is used to produce paper, tissue and packaging products used by major brands across the world, making them complicit in the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests. Greenpeace investigations have tracked this chain of destruction, following the supply chain from the Indonesian rainforests through APP mills in Indonesia and China to companies making packaging and other paper products. In 2011 our work focused on the packaging for global toy brands including Mattel, Disney, Lego and Hasbro as well as toilet paper and tissue products in countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand.
To do this, we sent packaging from branded products for forensic testing for mixed tropical hardwood (MTH). MTH is only pulped on a commercial scale in Indonesia, so the presence of MTH in paper products, together with our chain of custody investigations showing that the products are produced by APP, demonstrate that the MTH comes from Indonesian rainforest fibre.
Toying with extinction
Cleared forest ready for planting.
In June 2011, we released the 'Toying with Extinction' online report and launched a global campaign aimed at APP through their customers in the toy sector. At that time, none of the leading toy brands mentioned had organisation-wide policies to ensure that they were not contributing to the destruction of the world's remaining rainforests.
As a result of the campaign - which included spoof videos, nonviolent direct actions, conversations with the companies and mass supporter action (over 500,000 emails were sent to Mattel's headquarters alone) – Hasbro, Lego and Mattel announced that they will stop buying paper and packaging linked to rainforest destruction. Greenpeace is calling on Disney to follow suit.
These companies join the growing number of corporate consumers who, following Greenpeace campaigns and pressure from our supporters, have taken action to specifically remove APP from their supply chains, or introduced policies to tackle deforestation, which will exclude APP. These companies include Kraft, Nestlé, Unilever, Carrefour, Tesco, Auchan, LeClerc, Corporate Express and Adidas. You can find out more about other companies taking action against APP via our updates page.
In the face of such pressure, APP needs to leave the deforestation-dependent economic growth model. It could - and should - lead low-carbon growth by setting the bar for industry best practice. We are calling on APP to follow the lead of its Sinar Mas sister company, GAR, and end its dependence on clearance of forest and peatland areas for pulpwood.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace is calling on Indonesia's government to initiate an immediate legal and ecological review of existing concessions, and for the forest clearance moratorium to be strengthened immediately to include all rainforest and peatland. Working alongside Indonesian civil society and NGOs, we are also campaigning for a meaningful international deal to protect Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands, for a new green development pathway and for zero deforestation in Indonesia by 2015.
Asia Pulp and Paper Under Investigation is a part of our wider campaign for a better future for Indonesians, their forests, biodiversity and the global climate. It is also a part of our larger campaign to end deforestation globally, and to protect nature, biodiversity and the world's rainforests while promoting a socially just future. You can join us here.