It's been a momentous 24 hours since we released the results of our investigation into Asia Pulp and Paper's illegal timber scandal. While we in Greenpeace are best known for our direct actions, it's our investigation work that provides the foundation to expose these environmental crimes. Our Indonesian forest campaign is no different and with APP so adamant that it has 'zero tolerance for illegal timber' we knew we had to go to the heart of this issue and uncover the reality.
For those who missed the start it's worth recapping. Sumatra's peat swamp forests, home to the Sumatran tiger, have been cleared at a devastating rate with much of this clearance being on land now controlled by APP. Within these forests also grow ramin, a tree species that is protected under Indonesian law and listed on CITES. Evidence collected at APP's biggest pulp mill shows that APP logyards are riddled with illegal ramin logs. Samples were collected and sent to independent experts who verified that the logs were ramin.
The entire investigation has been captured on film and put on line here in a totally transparent way, so APP, its customers, and importantly the Indonesian authorities cannot ignore the facts.
So how have APP responded? They put a statement out late last night that they are sending in their own specialist team to the mill. But how could the results of an APP team be trusted at this stage? Earlier in the day the company already claimed to have commissioned an independent report which did not find any protected species. The report "is not public" and "there are no immediate plans to publish the name of the auditors". And then, no surprises, APP also reverted back to its ' zero tolerance' for illegality mantra.
The reality is that we've gone past the stage of self- policing and that is why I have just handed to police here in Indonesia the video footage and other evidence from the investigation. After receiving the evidence the Deputy Director of Special Crimes told me that this case would indeed be categorised as an illegal logging activity and that the police would be coordinating with the Ministry of Forestry to investigate the matter further.
It is crucial that this happens immediately. Greenpeace is calling on the police and Ministry of Forests to immediately seize all ramin in APP operations.
Meanwhile our investigation is having impact beyond Indonesia and already some companies are taking action to distance themselves from APP.
National Geographic has notified us that they wont use any APP paper. We've discussed with them our research, including evidence linking them to APP and Mixed Tropical Hardwood fibre in the past. We have more to do together, and have offered to input into strengthening their fibre procurement policy, but we are convinced that their commitment to not source from APP is genuine.
Danone meanwhile have put out a statement stating they no longer use APP paper for the Nutricia brand in Indonesia. All well and good, but what about all the rest of their brands? No mention of those so far, so for now we need to press them further.
Perhaps most disconcerting for APP will be the news reported in the media that even APP's own companies are making noises about stopping purchases from them, with Collins Debden Australia, stating that the company had stopped taking paper products from Indonesian mills.
But there are still many other companies using APP paper - Xerox, Barnes and Noble, Collins Debden UK, Acer, Paragon Publishing, Countdown, Danone, and Constable and Robinson who haven't taken clear steps to quit APP.
Please act with us today to persuade these companies to distance themselves from APP's illegal timber scandal and publicly commit to stop buying from the company.