Forest destruction by APRIL in Sumatra, Indonesia
Pressure is mounting on April, the notorious forest destroyer that is determinedly trying to pulp what’s left of Indonesia's rainforests. This afternoon, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development gave April an ultimatum: put down the chainsaws or get out of the clubhouse.
April – or Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, to give it its full title – is the second largest pulp and paper company in Indonesia. The largest paper company, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), agreed to stop clearing rainforest just over a year ago following a successful campaign by Greenpeace and other organisations.
It's ridiculous that April, Indonesia's number one cause of deforestation for pulp, is a member of any organisation with sustainable in the title, let alone one led by the CEOs of over 200 of the largest and best-known companies on the planet.
So last year we wrote to the WBCSD, suggesting that they should kick April out. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, today they announced that April’s membership was being put on probation and gave it twelve months to get its house in order or be thrown out on its ear.
April is just one part of a multi-billion pound deforestation empire, the Royal Golden Eagle group, known as RGE. This includes the palm oil company Asian Agri, which WWF caughtbankrolling the destruction of Tesso Nilo national park, and Toba Pulp Lestari, which is reported to be in repeated conflict with local communities, whose forests it is merrily pulping.
The WBCSD now expects not just April but all RGE companies to stop destroying forest if it wants to retain its membership.
Being kicked out of a club like the WBCSD might seem like small beer to you and me. But April has already been expelled from the Forest Stewardship Council. And the fact is, companies like April rely on membership of these international organisations to claim their credentials.
This isn't about a logo on a website: being ousted sends a very clear message that April and its equally notorious sisters are not companies to do business with.
April’s owner, Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto, needs to take this warning very seriously. It's not too late for his empire to turn over a new leaf and announce an immediate moratorium on deforestation.
After all, if APP can turn off the bulldozers, what's stopping April and the rest of the RGE empire?