Update from Indonesia: This is what APPs new sustainability commitments look like

by Bustar Maitar

September 27, 2012

Check out this account by By Bustar Maitar, Head Of Greenpeaces campaign to save Indonesias forests

Asia Pulp and Paper has spent the last few weeks telling customers around the world that the companys latest sustainability pledges mean that this time, the changes the company has announced are genuine. To the untrained eye new pledges to stop forest clearance in limited areas and plans to only source from plantations can sound promising.

But today in Indonesia, as part of Greenpeaces latestTigers Eyes TourGreenpeace Indonesia and WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum) activists, along with Robi, lead singer of famous Balinese grunge band, Navicula, came across the fresh clearing in the middle of a plantation run by PT Asia Tani Persada.

This again highlights the real problem: If words arent matched by immediate action to stop forest clearance, APPs commitments are meaningless.

Top line pledges by the company to halt forest clearance until conservation plans are agreed come with major caveats. APP is actually only referring to about 40% of the areas it sources from in Indonesia, with these areas being where most of theforest was actually cleared years ago.

APP commitments to end forest clearance by 2015 comes with a large dose of small print as it still plans to rely on rainforest timber for a significant percentage of its production after that time. And given that the company has repeatedly claimed previously that it would end its reliance on forest clearance only to then miss the deadlines, how can APP be trusted this time?

If these issues werent enough to sow the seeds of doubt then news thatAPP is planning to build one of the worlds largest pulp mills in South Sumatracertainly does. The company makes no reference to these plans for a 2 million ton pulp mill in its sustainability announcements, yet they appear to blow a massive hole in claims that all targets to stop forest clearance can and will be met as planned.

Its within this context that the news that APP is now working with The Forest Trust (TFT) must be seen. If APP isnt able to stop clearance of Indonesias rainforests for its pulp and paper production, then its choice of NGO partner and the glossy PR campaigns that surround its activities remain meaningless.

APP has spent years and tens of millions of dollars on greenwash whilst Indonesias forests get pulped for throwaway paper products. The evidence from the front line in Borneo today suggests that we are a long way from seeing the real change needed to stop forest destruction in Indonesia. Greenpeace and other NGOs are judging the value of APPs commitments by its actions in the forests.


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