A Land Grab for Pulp – a report on Portucel Mozambique


Our latest discussion document explores the plan by The Navigator Company to develop a new pulp mill in Mozambique. The Portuguese company, operating as Portucel Mozambique and with funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, is acquiring huge areas of land for establishing eucalyptus tree plantations to supply the mill. Local NGOs monitoring the impacts of this land acquisition are deeply concerned about the impacts on local livelihoods and on biodiversity.

The report explains exactly where the land grab is taking place and includes testimony from farmers who have lost the land they depend upon for subsistence in exchange for short-term work or inferior land in remote places. The report casts doubt on whether Free, Prior and Informed Consent was granted the company in its rush to establish pulp plantations. The report also analyses the environmental risks and impacts of the project, which will convert biodiverse miombo woodland habitat to monoculture plantation.

We welcome discussion and feedback on the report and hope that potential investors and other stakeholders in the project will read it and demand robust solutions to the problems it raises.

The document is available in English here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/171117-Discussion-Document-Portucel-Report-2017-English.pdf

and in Portuguese here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/171117-Discussion-Document-Portucel-Report-2017-Portuguese.pdf

A press release about the report launch is here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/171117-EPN-media-release-Portucel.pdf

Please contact us with any comments.

Discussion about the risks of Genetically Modified Trees


The Global Paper Vision contains the goal that stakeholders in the pulp and paper industry should commit to ‘Refuse fibre from genetically modified organisms.’ Yet the pulp and paper industry is actively involved in developing plantations of genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) trees.

A new EPN discussion document has been produced in order to contribute to discussion among civil society on this issue and to help to ensure attention is paid to this important topic. The discussion document is here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/171026-GM-trees-discussion-document-4.pdf

The discussion document concludes with some questions:

  • How can a global ban on GM trees best be promoted?
  • Where and what are the highest risks and how can they be reduced?
  • Which actors globally are behind the most problematic high-risk GM tree projects?
  • How can the coalition of stakeholders opposed to GM trees be strengthened?

We encourage debate, comments and discussion on these questions. Please contact us.

Too Much Hot Air – Paper’s Climate Change Impacts in Indonesia


A new report ‘Too Much Hot Air‘, details the shocking climate change impacts of the  Indonesian pulp and paper industry through damage to peatlands, and highlights solutions in the form of ‘paludiculture’, with examples of good practice from local communities. The report is a discussion document, and it concludes with questions about how we can move to a more sustainable future for Indonesian peatlands. Comments and responses are very welcome.

The pulp and paper industry in Indonesia has extensive tree plantations on drained peatlands. After drainage, the peat oxidizes, releasing carbon in the form of CO2 into the atmosphere. Drained peatland contributes more than half of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in addition to above-ground deforestation emissions, puts Indonesia among the world’s highest greenhouse gas emitters.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the Indonesian pulp and paper sector are estimated at 80 million tonnes of CO2 per year from peat oxidation, more than Finland’s entire national emissions. An additional unknown but probably even larger amount is released in periodic peat fire events, such as the one in 2015, which also caused life-threatening smog and haze.

Local communities in Indonesia are developing methods of managing peatlands in a responsible way, re-discovering traditional practices and experimenting with new methods of paludiculture, the practice of mixed crop production on undrained or re-wetted peat soils. However, the pulp and paper industry has not yet developed a corresponding paludiculture system at a sufficient scale to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and prevent excessive risk of fire and flooding. Urgent action is required to prevent a climate catastrophe.

The discussion document, ‘Too Much Hot Air’ is available here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/too-much-hot-air-papers-climate-change-impacts-in-indonesia/too-much-hot-air-final/

Please add comments below or contact Sergio Baffoni: sergio.baffoni@environmentalpaper.eu


Is Brazil’s huge planned pulp expansion sustainable? Discussion Document


A new discussion document – Expansion of the Brazilian Pulp Industry – aims to trigger a debate about the world’s hot spot for planned  increases in pulp and paper industry production.

Brazil’s production of pulp for paper is growing faster than any other country’s. This discussion document summarises key data and insights into the environmental and social risks and impacts of this expansion, profiling all of the companies that are planning to expand their production.
The document raises questions for debate including the need to address the cumulative impact of many simultaneous pulp capacity expansions, each of which will compete for resources, putting pressure on wood supplies, water and communities. It also questions the responsibilities for new plantations that displace other land-users and cause indirect deforestation.
The document is aimed at stakeholders in the industry, including financial companies involved in the pulp and paper sector, but will also be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of land-use in Brazil.
it is published ahead of  the civil society International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, on 21 March 2017, which is also the UN International Day of Forests.
The discussion document about the Brazilian Pulp Industry expansion is here: Download Discussion Document.
Comment on the document is invited from all stakeholders.

Chinese Finance Webinar


On 7 March  2017, our webinar series continued with our most popular topic yet – Chinese Finance. Katharine Lu, of Friends of the Earth USA, gave a presentation demonstrating through examples, and with great humour, how it is possible to influence the outcome of international projects that are financed by Chinese banks. She explained how the Green Credit Guidelines can be used to insist that Chinese financiers take proper account of the environmental and ethical impacts of their investments, and she showed how it can be possible to highlight the reputational risk of irresponsible investment.

Discussion after the webinar focused on the Amazar pulp mill, on the border of China and Russia, which is highly controversial and entirely Chinese funded.

The webinar forms part of a wider project that the Environmental Paper Network is co-ordinating in response to the fact that China is the biggest source of funding for pulp industry expansion, globally. We are currently assessing 16 Chinese and Taiwanese bank policies to determine whether they are consistent with our Green Paper, Red Lines, a set of minimum requirements that banks should seek to ensure are met when engaging with the pulp and paper industry.

The webinar was recorded and is available for viewing by EPN member organisations and other campaigners. Please contact Mandy Haggith (hag at environmentalpaper.eu) if you would like to watch it.


EPN Webinar on Chinese Finance 170307 from Environmental Paper Network on Vimeo.

EPN Debate on Detoxing Paper


Introducing a webinar and discussion document about why the paper industry needs a ‘detox’.

Back in the 1990s there was intense debate and campaigning to stop the toxic pollution caused by the pulp and paper industry. The root cause of the pollution were the chemicals used for bleaching, with chlorine and its associated compounds being particularly dangerous once released into the environment. In Europe and to a lesser extent North America, this led to significant improvements by the pulp industry, which tightened up its effluent controls and began installing totally chlorine free (TCF) bleaching technology into mills. Many environmentalists and industry professionals considered this issue to be a problem solved.

However, as the years went by, progress towards a chlorine-free pulp industry slowed. There are now signs that the trend is reversing, with the industry installing new chlorine-based bleaching technologies even into brand new mills. It is time to revisit this issue. The paper industry needs to ‘detox’.

To facilitate discussion on the topic, the EPN has hosted a webinar and published a discussion document about ‘detoxing’ paper.

On 17 January 2017, an EPN webinar was held, featuring a presentation by Rune Leithe. Rune is a forester who has been working for twenty years as an adviser/consultant working with many NGOs across the world, particularly on forest and forest industry issues. He has also produced a discussion document on this topic for us, which is here: 170112 Detox paper EPN discussion document 2.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


2017-01-17 14.05 Webinar on Detoxing Paper from Environmental Paper Network on Vimeo.

EPN Webinar on Green Paper, Red Lines


‘Green Paper, Red Lines’ is a set of requirements for financiers to avoid financing pulp and paper companies that are unsustainable or unethical. This webinar explains them, gives an example of the situation they are intended to avoid, and describes our process for assessing bank policies against them, which is being undertaken in partnership with BankTrack. The audience were primarily staff of banks whose policies are being assessed. It will also be of interest to forest finance campaigners.

2016-12-13 EPN Webinar on Green Paper, Red Lines from Environmental Paper Network on Vimeo.

EPN Webninar on Peatlands and the Pulp and Paper Industry in Indonesia


This EPN webniar explains that peatlands (~organic soils) worldwide store twice as much carbon as all forest biomass, although they cover only a tenth of the land. 15% of this land has been degraded, causing huge GHG emissions, peatland fires (in Russia and Indonesia) and subsidence and flooding in parts of (Europe, Indonesia and Malaysia). The pulpwood sector is one of the biggest contributors to peatland degradation in Indonesia. Currently development of the sector on forested peatlands have largely stopped but studies show that it is impossible to manage peatlands for Acacia pulpwood sustainably. Among others, Wetlands International is calling for a plan to phase out drainage based use, rewet peatlands and introduce species economically interesting species native to peatlands.

About the presenter: Bas Tinhout is working for the past four years at Wetlands International on the issues related to peatlands in SE Asia in especially dealing with the pulp and paper sector. He is also member of the Environmental Paper Network steering committee.

You can download here the powerpoint presentation or watch the webinar here below:

2016-11-22-EPN-Webinar-on-Peatlands from Environmental Paper Network on Vimeo.