In February we reported how Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) had stopped all deforestation in its suppliers’ concessions and committed to protect all remaining areas of rainforest in its global supply chain.
However, there is another pulp and paper company in Indonesia that is now the leading driver of deforestation in the sector: APRIL.
Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, or APRIL, is Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper producer. Its website boasts: "Go to a supermarket, stationery store, bookstore or many other types of consumer outlets in dozens of countries and the chances are you will happen to come across an item made from an APRIL product."
APRIL’s record when it comes to conservation is dismal, however. It has decimated Sumatra’s rainforests including tiger habitat, antagonised local communities and failed to meet its public targets to become 100% dependant on plantation fibre.
The company issued a self-indulgent declaration of sustainability on its website following the APP announcement that, in part, reads:
"We are not about deforestation … The term deforestation is regularly used by critics to characterise our operations in Indonesia. It is an emotive word that makes good headlines but does not reflect the facts."
Okay, so let’s look at some of the facts then.
Recent government data reveals that an incredible 60% of fibre supply to APRIL's Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) pulp mill in Indonesia is rainforest wood. In 2012, APRIL planned to feed its Sumatran pulp mill by trashing another 60,000 hectares of rainforest – an area nearly the size of Singapore.
Despite there being little that is sustainable about APRIL’s operations, it is extraordinary that the company continues to be a member of the "world’s foremost business association dedicated to sustainable development", the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
On joining the WBSCD a few years ago, APRIL’s chief executive claimed to "design plantations to protect High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) and offer a solution to Indonesia’s deforestation". The council celebrated APRIL’s commitment to the WBCSD and stated that the company had "emerged as an industry leader, locally and internationally".
The reality shows, however, that APRIL is now the leading driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia. Deforestation maps, shown below, and sent by Greenpeace SouthEast Asia together with a letter to APRIL customers in recent days, show areas where the company has recently trashed many thousands of hectares of peatland forests – vital habitat for critically-endangered Sumatran tigers.
APRIL is now the leading driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia.
APRIL’s membership of the WBSCD Forestry Solutions Group makes a mockery of the group's aims "to protect and conserve primary and high conservation value forests…. to strengthen consumer and stakeholder confidence in the forest sector".
Greenpeace International has therefore written to the WBCSD, asking for immediate action to suspend APRIL’s membership until it cleans up its act.
APP has committed to end its involvement in deforestation, but APRIL has decided to carry on regardless. Its failure to change course continues to damage the reputation of the Indonesian pulp and paper industry in the international market place.
It reminds me of a book one of my colleagues recently mentioned to me, Dr Seuss’ children’s tale The Lorax, that told the tale of the greedy industrialist that kept on cutting down the trees until the last one falls, and then his business fell apart. He failed to listen to the warning signs.
What is it going to take to shift APRIL? A wise businessman that runs such a company would listen to the warnings.
Click here for a PDF of the map showing the deforestation.
Bustar Maitar, Head of Indonesia Forest Campaign, Greenpeace SouthEast Asia