Asia Pulp & Paper in illegal rainforest scandal

by Guest Blogger

March 1, 2012

by Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Indonesia

APP: Zero tolerance for illegal wood.” – @AsiaPulpPaper

These are the five words that say a lot but apparently mean little to a company that has made a mantra out of repeating something which is simply not true. And today, weve released proof that what APP says is wrong – the results of a yearlong investigation uncovering how APP is systematically violating Indonesias laws which protect ramin, an internationally protected tree species under CITES.

Ramin trees come from Indonesias peat swamp forests which are also home to the endangered Sumatran tiger. Our latest mapping analysis shows that since 2001, at least 180,000 hectares of peat swamp forest an area twice the size of New York City have been cleared in concessions now controlled by APP. Is it any wonder there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild?

Numerous visits were made to APPs largest pulp mill in Indonesia over the course of last year. Hidden among other rainforest species waiting to be pulped were numerous illegal ramin logs. To prove these trees were ramin, samples were taken and sent to an independent expert lab in Germany. The lab confirmed that all of these samples were indeed ramin.

See the full results of the investigation

As well as finding APP in possession of illegal ramin weve tracked where APPs pulp and paper is going and found a trail that leads us back to major global names such as Xerox, National Geographic and Danone. As we did with Barbies packaging last year we sent their products for forensic testing and found they contained rainforest fiber.

Not only is APP undermining the rule of law in Indonesia it is also implicating some of its biggest customers in this rainforest scandal. The likes of Xerox and Danone must now follow in the footsteps of other major names like Mattel, Nestle and Adidas who have already suspended all purchases from APP.

In Jakarta, Greenpeace Indonesia will be handing the video footage to the Police and is urging the Ministry of Forestry and CITES authorities to immediately seize all illegal ramin in APPs operations and work together to end the trade in ramin from Indonesias peat swamp forests.

Update March 1: Good news: National Geographic has notified us that they will no longer use any APP paper. We’ve discussed with them our research, including evidence linking them to APP and Mixed Tropical Hardwood fiber in the past. We have more to do together, but we are convinced that their commitment to no longer use APP paper is genuine.

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