Global paper giant cancels APRIL contract to stop Indonesia rainforest destruction

Signal to world leaders to end global deforestation

Feature story - November 13, 2009
Even as Greenpeace activists, who took direct action on Thursday to stop the destruction of peatlands in the Kampar peninsula by Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL), are being detained by the police in Indonesia, the global paper giant, UPM-Kymmene, has said that it will stop buying pulp from APRIL, who operates one of the world’s largest pulp mills in Riau and is responsible for causing widespread rainforest in Indonesia.

Greenpeace activists locked themselves to seven excavators, owned by Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRILRGE), one of Indonesia's biggest pulp and paper producers, to prevent it destroying the rainforest to make way for tree plantations, grown to make pulp and paper for international customers, including UPM Kymmene. The action took place two days before Obama joins 20 other Heads of State in Singapore to discuss Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and just weeks before leaders must agree an historic deal to avert a climate crisis at the climate at December's UN climate summit.

The Finnish-owned company, which supplies products like photocopy paper to global markets including the US, China, Europe and Australia, admitted that APRIL's pulp "comes from a very delicate environment" and is reported to have said it will cancel its contract. (1) Greenpeace estimates this contract to be equal to over 4% of APRIL's total pulp production, worth over US$55 million annually. (2)

"This is a very positive move by UPM to help protect Indonesia's rainforests and carbon rich peatlands, the destruction of which is driving climate change, mass species extinction and causing poverty in forest dependent communities," said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Forest campaigner.

"If international companies start distancing themselves from this environmental disaster, the call the end global deforestation here and around the globe will only get louder and louder. It is not only one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to combat climate change but is essential in order to protect the unique flora, fauna and the forest dependent communities of the world."

Yesterday's action took place as President Barack Obama prepares to fly to Asia for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Activists from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Brazil and Finland shut down APRIL's operations in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest on the island of Sumatra. They locked themselves to seven machines used to clear vast tracts of forest and peatland for conversion to pulp wood plantations. Other activists unfurled a huge banner in a freshly destroyed area of rainforest that read "Obama: you can stop this", urging him to join other world leaders and help avert a climate crisis by ending global deforestation, responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace released fresh evidence, including aerial surveillance images that prove APRIL is destroying areas of rainforest and draining forest peatland on Sumatra's threatened Kampar Peninsula. (3) The evidence also strongly indicates that the company is clearing forest on peat which is more than 3 metres deep. This is illegal under Indonesian law.

Over a million hectares of forest, mostly tropical rainforest, is destroyed every month - that is an area of forest the size of a football pitch every two seconds. Rainforest and peatland destruction in Indonesia emits such huge quantities of CO2 that is has driven the country to become the world's third largest climate polluter after China and the US.

"President Obama, Yudhoyono and other world leaders must listen and take action to pull us back from the brink of a climate crisis. They must attend the UN climate summit and agree to a fair, ambitious and binding deal that includes ending the destruction of the world's rainforests," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Notes to Editors: (1) suosademetsassa_- _myos_upm_syytettyna_1154676.html

(2) APRIL produces around 2.4 million tonnes of pulp annually (APRIL CSR report 2008). In 2008, UPM's Changsu (China) mill imported over 105,000 tonnes of pulp from Indonesia (Customs data China), most of which was supplied by APRIL's PT RAPP mill and equivalent to more than 4% of APRIL's global annual pulp production. The average export price of Indonesian pulp to China was US$537 (Customs data Indonesia). (3) For further information please see:


Take action now!

Support our work!

It is thanks to people like you - that we are able to set up a camp and take action at the frontline of forest destruction. You can help make a difference tomorrow by giving whatever you can today.