A Land Grab for Pulp – a report on Portucel Mozambique

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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

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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.

Concern about Environmental Risks of a Huge Biorefinery in Estonia

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A letter of concern has been sent to Estonian company Est-For,  signed by a number of Estonian NGOs and by the Environmental Paper Network.

The letter expresses our worries about the planned Est-For biorefinery development, as there appear to be insufficient safeguards in place to prevent negative impacts on the environment. We will be warning against investment in this project until these safeguards are put in place. The risks we are concerned about are outlined in the letter: 171003 Letter to EstFor.

The concerns that need to be addressed include the following.

  • Risks of pollution impacting the  water quality of River Emajõgi and Lake Peipus.
  • Risks to Estonian forests because of the additional timber demand for the refinery, which is very likely to harm biodiversity and reduce carbon stocks, and lack of any guarantees about certification of wood supplies.
  • Inadequate criteria for the environmental impact assessment (EIA) given the scale of this project.
  • Future risks that environmental regulations will be weakened to prop up such a large industrial operation.

If built, the Est-For biorefinery will produce an annual output of 700,000 tonnes of pulp, and consume 2.5 to 4 million cubic metres of wood per year, for many decades.

The letter is here: 171003 Letter to EstFor

Click here for a press release warning investors not to invest in this biorefinery.

In the Red – Bank Policies fail to ensure they will avoid irresponsible investment in the paper industry

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A new assessment by the EPN of bank policies has been completed and published here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/in-the-red/

The assessment studied how ready the financial sector is to manage the environmental and social risks of financial involvement with the pulp and paper industry. From 2016 to 2017 we carried out a benchmark assessment of the pulp and paper policies of 42 private banks against the requirements we set out in 2016 in Green Paper, Red Lines. The Red Lines are environmental and social criteria, which articulate minimum requirements that pulp and paper companies must meet before investment in them is considered.

The 42 selected banks are either one of the biggest financiers of the pulp and paper sector, and/or are involved in ‘Dodgy Deals’, i.e. pulp mill projects or companies that are the subject of active campaigns by our member organisations due to their harmful environmental and social impacts. We conducted an in-depth, qualitative study of the publicly available policy framework of each bank and assessed to what extend the bank policies protect it from the risks of clients breaching each Red Line.

The results of our assessment reveal that bank policies are extremely disappointing. Unfortunately none of the banks we assessed manages to thoroughly protect itself from clients breaching the Red Lines. Indeed for most of the Red Lines, the vast bulk of banks are at best only partly protected. We can only conclude that the banking sector does not have policies that are fit for purpose to avoid irresponsible investment in damaging pulp and paper projects and companies.

Our Red Lines are strongly supported by more than 140 civil society organisations worldwide. We hope that the banking sector will work with us to move the pulp and paper industry towards a sustainable future.

The full assessment and recommendations are here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/in-the-red/

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

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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.

A new threat for Russian boreal forests

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Major western European and American companies are connected to logging companies expanding their operations into one of the largest tracts of undisturbed primary forest in Arkhangelsk Oblast of northwest Russia, a Greenpeace report reveals.

The report Eye on the Taiga: How industry’s claimed ‘sustainable forestry’ in Russia is destroying the Great Northern Forestshows that three-quarters of the proposed Dvinsky Forest Reserve is licensed to three major logging companies. It lists the names of companies, some of which are household names that are buying from mills linked to these logging companies.

 

Companies highlighted in the report, such as Swedish owned paper manufacturer Arctic Paper, tissue company SCA, the paper giant Stora Enso, and Irish packaging producer Smurfit Kappa, have a unique opportunity to help save this last remaining intact forest.  In addition, companies such as Auchan, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and McDonald’s – also highlighted in the report as linked with this case – can influence their suppliers to support the protection of the Dvinsky Forest. Three main companies involved in the trade of the wood of the Dvinsky Forest are Pomor Timber, Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill and Titan Group

In 2011, regional authorities planned to establish the Dvinsky Forest Reserve. This proposed reserve covers almost two-thirds of one of the largest remaining Intact Forest Landscapes, covering 835,000 hectares of critical habitat for a number of threatened species in Arkhangelsk Oblast in northwestern Russia.

Anton Beneslavsky, of Greenpeace Russia, said: “Since 2000, the Dvinsky forest has lost 300,000 hectares – an area larger than Luxembourg – of unique intact forest landscape. This critically important and beautiful forest is ending up as saunas and tissue products and packaging that can be found in stores and homes all over the world.”

Between 2000 and 2013 the rate of loss of Intact Forest Landscapes in the Great Northern Forest [3] was around 2.5 million hectares per year. Russia accounts for over half of this loss.Logging continues despite Russia promising to deliver its part on achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  Target 5requires by 2020 a minimum 50% reduction in the rate of loss of primary forests and other high biodiversity value habitats; where feasible, this loss should be brought close to zero.

“Russia has declared 2017 as the Year of the Protected Area. It has been already years since the Dvinsky Forest Reserve was first earmarked for protection by the Arkhangelsk authorities” said Beneslavsky.

“If the government is serious about establishing new protected areas this year, it should start walking the talk by fully protecting this forest without further delay. Failing to act is not an option.”

Greenpeace has written to companies named in the report highlighting the fate of the Dvinsky Forest, and has called on them to join in the efforts to save this magnificent forest and other critical regions of the Great Northern Forest. The companies are encouraged to phase out any suppliers involved in the destruction of these valuable forest areas.

EPN Debate on Detoxing Paper

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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.

Red Lines for pulp mill finance – a webinar and a Chinese version

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Earlier this year, we published  Green Paper, Red Lines. 

The document  is a briefing for financiers, which sets out minimum requirements for pulp and paper companies. We ask all those involved in financing the industry to avoid any projects or companies that do not meet these Red Lines. To help explain this important document, we are running a webinar about it on 13 December, and have now translated it into Chinese.

As the world’s biggest consumer of paper, China is a major player in financing the pulp industry, and it is becoming of increasing importance. We have therefore translated the Red Lines into Chinese, to make it easier for Chinese bankers to know what civil society requests them not to invest in: Green Paper Red Lines, Chinese translation.

China has strong legislation, in the form of the Green Credit Guidelines, to regulate overseas investment by Chinese financial institutions. We are currently analysing how our Red Lines can best be used alongside these Guidelines. We look forward to constructive engagement with Chinese banks and other financial organisations.

We are hosting a webinar on Tuesday 13 December 2016 at 1400 UT, aimed at bankers and investors, to explain why the Red Lines are so important. Please contact hag at environmentalpaper.eu if you are interested in taking part.

Read more about the Red Lines here.

Red Lines for Pulp Mill Finance

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The Environmental Paper Network* (EPN), and BankTrack** today published a short document, Green Paper, Red Lines,  setting out minimum requirements for the pulp and paper industry to avoid harming people and the environment. This document urges banks and investors who consider financially supporting pulp and paper companies to thoroughly check whether these companies are on the right side of these ‘red lines’.

The ‘red lines’, listed in the document, are the absolute minimum requirements for pulp and paper mills, and cover regulatory, social, environmental and corporate issues. Unless pulp and paper mills fulfil these requirements, they are likely to cause unacceptable social and environmental harm.

The standards are absolute minimum requirements. Companies that achieve these standards are not automatically deemed to be operating in a sustainable manner. However, if companies, and financiers providing support to them, cross these red lines, they are highly likely to be the target of campaigns by civil society organisations.

EPN and BankTrack therefore expect financiers to stay clear if their client pulp and paper companies are unable to meet the minimum requirements.

Mandy Haggith, co-ordinator of the Environmental Paper Network’s pulp finance working group, said: “We want banks and other investors to be our allies in helping to transform the pulp and paper industry towards our Global Paper Vision, by focusing finance only where the industry is sustainable. We hope these red lines will be used by banks to avoid projects and companies with a high level of reputational risk due to their negative environmental and social impacts.”

Karen Vermeer, forest and Equator Principles campaigner at BankTrack, said: “We will use the red lines of this document to check the forest policies of private sector banks, and push for more sustainable policies where necessary.”

* EPN is a network of more than 140 non-governmental organisations globally, focussing on pulp and paper sustainability issues across the global supply chain and paper’s life cycle.

** BankTrack is the international tracking, campaigning and NGO support organisation focused on private sector commercial banks and the activities they finance.

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NGO Letter: Peatland management of APRIL is not sustainable

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A group of NGO sent a letter to the Indonesian paper giant Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) on peat management in the Kampar Peninsula. APRIL recently announced a peatland restoration project. However, at the same time, the cmpany is continuing to drain peatlands in the same region, for pulp plantations. The letter reminders to APRIL that science show their peat management system is not avoiding peat draining, with all the consequences of this (CO2 emissions, forest fires, soil subsidizing etc), and that industrial plantations on the peatlands of Kampar Peninsula are environmentally and economically unsustainable and irresponsible. The letter asks APRIL to abandon acacia plantations on peat and develop the use of alternative crops that require no drainage, and manage peatlands in an environmentally and socially way.
The letter is signed by Environmental Paper Network, Wetlands International, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Canopy, JMGR, Walhi Riau, Scale-up and Yayasan Mitra Insani.