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.

Concern about Environmental Risks of a Huge Biorefinery in Estonia


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


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


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.

Indonesian civil society writes to Banks: APRIL failing to implement its own policy


The environmental coalition Jikalahari and the network of local communities of Riau province, JMGR, have sent two letters to banks, one each to Credit Suisse and ABN Amro, to share some concerns over what is happening on the ground in APRIL’s concessions in the Riau Province (in Sumatra, Indonesia).

Credit Suisse has committed to help its customer APRIL to deliver a visible change in its activities. ABN Amro also has business with APRIL, and last May was involved in a new deal with this company for US$800 million, through a syndicated loan.

According to the local communities, the APRIL group and its subsidiary PT RAPP has been so far unable to implement its own policy, to comply with regulations in Indonesia regarding peat protection and peat management or to implement regulations regarding setting aside areas for local communities’ livelihood trees.

APRIL subsidiaries illegally keep building canals, planting in burned peatlands that should be restored, and even forbidding official inspection teams to visit their concessions. Social conflicts with local communities are not being addressed, as the company promised they would be, and its agreements are violated by the plantation companies.

Furthermore, business-as-usual peat management is draining large areas of peatlands in the Kampar peninsula, releasing huge amounts of CO2 every year and creating risks of new waves of fires. Last year’s peat fires caused the death of 5 Riau residents; 3 of which were children, and more than 87,000 people suffered from respiratory diseases, while the county suffered $935m of damage. Six APRIL subsidiaries have been investigated by the Police Department in relation with the fires, but still the company has failed to stop draining peat. This practice will also cause soil subsidence, leading to extensive flooding in the rainy season, while the dry season is affected by fires.

The civil society groups have asked the banks to make sure that their clients will be able to prove full compliance with laws and regulations, to promptly address social conflicts and to stop draining peat.

The letter to Credit Suisse

The letter to ABN Amro

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


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


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.



New EEPN report on pulp mill expansion launched at the World Forestry Congress


On the Civil Society Alternative Programme (CSAP) of the 14th FAO World Forestry Congress (WFC), held 7-11th Septemberin Durban, South Africa, the European Environmental Paper Network(EEPN) introduced its new report Mapping Pulp Mill Expansion – Risks and Recommendations to the civil society and representatives of the FAO and WFC.

Global paper consumption and production has been growing at a steady rate for decades. It has quadrupled since 1960 and is expected to keep growing. EEPN analyzed the upcoming virgin wood fibre pulp mills and their possible impacts on surrounding forests and land-use, by overlapping with maps of intact forests, of ongoing and upcoming deforestation and of sensitive habitats.

The report:

  • reflects a rising global demand for pulp and paper in the future, points out the inequitable access to paper and the need for reducing paper consumption in industrialized countries.
  • provides a general overview of each region of the world where new pulp mills are expected or under construction, and includes maps visualizing their general proximity to identified deforestation fronts and intact forest landscapes.
  • shows that current pulp and paper production is concentrated in Asia, North America and North and Western Europe, while most of the future pulp production capacity increase is expected to take place in Asia, Russia and South America.
  • points out possible impacts and potential risks of increased demand for forest resources in the vicinity of new pulp and paper projects on endangered habitats, environment and local communities.
  • provides recommendations for producers, investors, policy makers and large volume paper buyers or retailers who are concerned about climate and deforestation risks.

The recommendations are an application of an international conservation community consensus for social and environmental transformation in the pulp and paper industry detailed in EPN’s Global Paper Vision. With these recommendations the international coalition of NGOs of EPN intends to provide measures and steps for implementing responsible and sustainable paper production, investment and purchasing.

As the 14th World Forestry Congress aims to build a new vision with a new way of thinking and acting for the future of forests and forestry in sustainable development at all levels, EPN’s hope is that this new report is a contribution to meet these goals, and it calls FAO to adopt a set of goals as ambitious as the recommendations presented by the civil society’s organizations.

EPN is also calling financial institutions to adopt investment policies which ensure that their lending and investments do not cause further deforestation or lead to disputes with indigenous peoples and local communities, adopting effective environmental and social due diligence procedures and covenants included in contracts, binding the client to comply with the bank’s sustainability requirements.


Financing APRIL in Indonesia is not acceptable


As we have highlighted in recent posts, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is responsible for substantial deforestation in Indonesia, causing social conflict and greenhouse gas emissions. In partnership with BankTrack, our pulp finance working group has researched the main banks involved with APRIL and then systematically contacted them asking them to divest. You can read our research results on BankTrack’s blog here: http://blog.banktrack.org/?p=522. 

April-Banks(Note: values for ABN Amro, China Development, CITC, Santander and West LB are estimated based on the assumption that banks took an equal share in one loan, for which individual bank contributions are not known. Also, note that West LB has been succeeded by Portigon Financial Services AG as of June 2012.)

This work has recently achieved good coverage by the media, see for example, here: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0218-banks-financing-april-indonesia.html

Some of the banks have assured us that they will have nothing to do with APRIL, and today we are very pleased by the announcement by Santander (see http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0224-banco-santander-april.html)  that they will make a withdrawal from their association with APRIL unless the company stops deforesting. Santander has recently been the target of a Greenpeace campaign. This video shows why.

We will continue to support our member organisations in their campaigning to ensure that banks have policies to avoid financing forest destruction, and to divest from the worst perpetrators, such as APRIL. Watch this space.