This was APP's Senepis Tiger Sanctuary, until one of APP's suppliers cut down the trees. Image: Eyes on the Forest/WW Indonesia
Asia Pulp and Paper – parent company of New Zealand's Cottonsoft brand and the company doing so much to jeopardise the future of Indonesia's rainforests – has done some pretty stupid things in the past. But pulping the trees in its own tiger sanctuary is astonishingly dumb.
And yet that's exactly what APP has done. A case study in a new investigative report documents how APP’s Senepis Tiger Sanctuary is subject to aggressive deforestation by one of the company’s wood suppliers. This is the very same heavily-promoted sanctuary that APP shows to clients and media as an example of its conservation efforts in Indonesia.
The report, The Truth Behind APP’s Greenwash, which has been released by Indonesia-based NGO coalition Eyes of the Forest, presents detailed evidence that cuts through the heart of APP’s aggressive, multi-million dollar greenwashing machine. How on earth will APP's PR firm Cohn and Wolfe spin this one?
APP has already responded to this latest scandal by admitting that the shocking images taken by field researchers were from its supplier’s concession. Yet in its promotional materials APP claims that it only sources fibre from "degraded" areas or "wasteland" and that any rainforest fibre found in its products is simply "wood residues". We've always questioned what the term ‘wood residues’ actually means and the latest images (such as the one above) from inside a supplier concession demonstrates the meaning quite clearly - natural forests in and around APP's own tiger sanctuary!
It's greenwashing scams like this that led to the Dutch Advertising Codes Commission's recent ruling that APP’s print and television advertisements were misleading to the public. This news comes off the back of other recent APP tiger scandals. In July, a tiger was found dieing in a trap at the edge of an APP plantation, and in other areas APP has been forced to relocate tigers after clearing their forest habitat.
The report also highlights how APP suppliers are, contrary to Indonesian laws and regulations, clearing and draining deep peat, a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions. The draining, degradation, and burning of Indonesia’s peatlands is one of the main reasons why Indonesia is ranked third biggest climate polluter in the world.
On top of this new evidence, our recent Tiger Tour through Sumatra documented the ongoing destruction of tiger habitat and peatland areas, and a dossier has been presented to the Indonesian president to demonstrate how companies like APP are undermining his efforts to curb deforestation.
It’s estimated that APP - which is part of the Sinar Mas Group - has pulped more than two million hectares of Indonesia’s tropical forests since it started paper production there in 1984. The devastation caused by APP has led to intense global criticism with many major global brands such as Mattel, Lego, Adidas, Tesco and dozens more now refusing to do business with the company.
While many global buyers, including some of the biggest paper users in the world, have stopped buying from APP, in the UK APP is hiding behind other company names and using independent paper merchants to hide its toxic brand in order to get its paper onto the shelves.
And this latest expose of APP’s destructive operations comes just days after the latest round of UN climate change talks wound up in Durban. While the Indonesian president has been applauded for his ambitious commitments to reducing Indonesian greenhouse gas emissions, the truth is the president’s targets are being undermined daily as APP continues to feed its pulp mills with trees from rainforests, peatlands and habitat which is of critical importance for the survival of Sumatran tigers.