A European campaign
The rapid expansion market of paper products linked to deforestation in Indonesia into the European is supporting the further expansion of pulp plantations into Indonesia’s last tropical forests and peatlands. EEPN is promoting a European-wide campaign to stop the expansion of such products into the European market and to protect Indonesia’s rainforests and forest communities rights. Read more...
orestry giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is overstating the conservation significance of its recently announced moratorium on forest conversion on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, argues a new report issued by an Indonesian activist group.
This report, published Greenomics, says that the nearly 200,000 hectares of "natural forest" APP says it won't covert to industrial plantations consists mostly of "scrubland, agriculture land or land affected by conflicts with local communities".
"The use of the phrase 'suspension of natural forest clearance' [by APP] is inappropriate," states the report, which says that only 204 hectares of the 198,941 hectares APP says is now off-limits from development is actually forest in a contiguous block.
"APP/SMG: The pulping continues"analyzes the “sustainability roadmap” issued by controversial Indonesia deforester Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). The analysis found there is no natural forest left to apply their new policies to in Riau Province, since all natural forest in their ‘own’ concessions had either already been cleared or protected under Indonesian law or APP showcase commitments which are also mostly nothing more than confirmation that the company would obey the law. The report finds "the fate of up to 1.2 million hectares, more than half of Riau’s remaining forest, remains in danger of being cleared by APP/SMG’s so-called 'independent suppliers' who can continue to deliver natural forest wood to the company’s mills unaffected by the new forest policies." These forests include some of the last refuges of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger and elephant, as well as forests on carbon-rich deep peat, whose clearing will lead to very high carbon emissions for decades to come.
Not only is APP backtracking from the broken sustainability commitments of 2004 and 2007, it also appears to be moving back from commitments made just a year ago in its “Vision 2020, a roadmap to guide sustainability principles, goals and program.” In this announcement, APP said it would “source 100 percent of its pulpwood supply from sustainable plantation stock by the end of 2015”. The 2012 roadmap switches terminology from “100 per cent sourcing” to “100 per cent capability” with the introduction of a new loophole for “Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH) waste & residues”.
"APP/SMG: The pulping continues" includes photographic evidence of clearfelled rainforest areas APP calls “waste and residues.
In a press release on December 14, 2011, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) called on WWF International to disassociate itself from The Truth Behind APP’s Greenwash, a December 2011 report of Sumatra NGO coalition “Eyes on the Forest (EoF)”.
The APP release contained the claim: “In fact, APP is regularly assessed and certified by many of the world’s leading authorities on sustainable forest management and environmental auditors - including Geneva-based SGS, TUV, AFNOR, the official French auditors for the European ‘EcoLabel’, PHPL, Indonesian sustainable forest management standard, LEI, Indonesian voluntary sustainable forest management standard, and PEFC Chain-of-Custody, the world’s largest forest certification program.”
WWF International has thus decided to verify whether the above mentioned organisations agree to the claim that they demonstrate APP’s sustainability and whether their certifications can help APP deny any of the issues raised by the Eyes on the Forest and other NGOs.
Greenomics Indonesia feels compelled to respond to the APP in the form of a Greenomics report, given that the EoF report quoted from a number of Greenomics reports as one of the grounds on which it based its conclusions. In these Greenomics reports, all of our arguments were based on legal and official documents issued by the APP Group itself, which were submitted to and approved by the Ministry of Forestry. In responding to APP’s press release, Greenomics Indonesia also feels it necessary to highlight a misleading PR effort directed at the Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry on 16 December 2011 during a meeting that was attended by APP representatives at the request of the Secretary General of the Minister of Forestry in order to discuss the case of PT Ruas Utama Jaya (RUJ), an APP wood supplier operating in Riau Province that have a concession extending to 44,330 hectares. During this meeting, the APP representatives purported to explain various issues concerning the operations of RUJ, including the RUJ operations map and land cover conditions in the area.
It should be stressed here that the practice of clearing natural forest on the RUJ concession has become the principal issue that gave rise to the bitter war of words between EoF and APP in the wake of the publication of the EoF report. In this Greenomics Indonesia report, we shall discuss four things, namely:
* Legal concession map versus commitment to the protection of Sumatran tiger habitat in the RUJ concession;
* The clearing of Sumatran tiger habitat in the RUJ concession;
* The driving of Sumatran tigers from the RUJ concession to deep-peat concession areas; and
* Misleading PR by APP in respect of the part of the RUJ concession which APP claims has been set aside for conservation purposes.
Several reports have documented the destructive environmental and social impacts of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), part of the Sinar Mas group, including its involvement in clearing rainforest in Indonesia for paper.Nonetheless in 2006 the EU Ecolabel was awarded to two brands of photocopy paper – Golden Plus and Lucky Boss – produced by the Indonesian company Pindo Deli, a subsidiary of APP.
NGOs have warned the European Commission they would have to advise their supporters, the public and companies to steer away from the EU Ecolabel for paper and timber products, unless the European Commission ensures (1) the awarding process of the EU Ecolabel becomes transparent – at least in line with existing forest certification procedures; and (2) the EU Ecolabel criteria are considerably strengthened.
APP continues repeating the same false statements together with some new twists, all trying to hide the ultimate foundation of the Sinar Mas Group/APP’s operations: the continuing destruction of natural tropical forest and drainage of peat soils. APP’s PR effort today is bigger and with more aggressive use of the media than ever before. APP has recruited a wide variety of publicists, individuals and supposedly independent NGOs to flack its allegedly green practices, including, Cohn & Wolfe, Environmental Resource Management, Alan Oxley and his World Growth and ITS Global, Mazars, Carbon Conservation, Patrick Moore and his Greenspirit Strategies, Bastoni and his Sumatran Tiger Conservation Foundation (YPHS). It runs its commercials globally on CNN, Sky TV and other international broadcasting channels.
In this report, Eyes on the Forest investigates APP’s PR claims. Has there been any improvement of SMG/APP’s practices on the ground? Has there been a reduction of the company’s impact on the world’s most diverse natural tropical forests, wildlife, and the world’s climate?
The answer is a straightforward: No. SMG/APP continues draining deep peat soils and clearing natural forests and its negative impact is increasing with the scale of its operations.
Seemingly indefatigable, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is continuing to go all out to convince the global public that the Sinar Mas Group company’s pulp and paper operations are committed to the conservation of Indonesia’s biodiversity.
In fact, just recently APP “challenged” global public opinion through an advertisement it placed in The New York Times, inviting the global public to monitor its commitment to biodiversity conservation.
APP also continues to claim that its operations have voluntarily set aside a certain portion of their concessions as an expression of its commitment to biodiversity conservation.
This Greenomics Indonesia report will reveal the true reason why APP’s flagship Taman Raja and Kampar Carbon Reserves have been set aside, something that is continually touted to the global public through advertisements as an expression of APP’s commitment to biodiversity conservation.
In fact, the reason for the two reserves is eminently simple. This report, supported by official and legal data, sets out the true situation as regards the reason for APP’s actions in setting aside the reserves.
In September, Greenomics Indonesia was afforded the opportunity to make two presentations to the Ministry of Forestry regarding the need for Indonesia to immediately reposition itself as a pulp and paper producer. The presentations were chaired by the Ministry of Forestry’s Secretary General, Dr. Hadi Daryanto. The first presentation, on 12 September, was attended by internal Ministry of Forestry figures, while the second presentation, on 14 September, was attended by representatives of APP (Asia Pulp and Paper) and APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited).
Greenomics Indonesia has taken the initiative of assessing the level of concern that is really exhibited by APP and APRIL for the protection of the Sumatran tiger. This initiative is intended to serve as a response to the aggressive and groundless PR arguments of the two companies, which claim that their operations exhibit a high level of concern for the protection of the Sumatran tiger. We frequently read and hear of claims from the pulp and paper industry, particularly APP, to the effect that their operations reflect a high level of concern for the protection of the Sumatran tiger. Many of these claims, however, are based on public relations arguments designed purely to mislead the public. The assessment of APP and APRIL’s concern for the protection of the Sumatran tiger needs to be carried out at the level of each pulpwood plantation concession that supplies timber to the two companies. This is essential in order to evaluate the aggregate level of concern of APP and APRIL for the protection of the Sumatran tiger.
Greenomics Indonesia's report on Wednesday criticizes Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a member of Sinar Mas Group, through its affiliated company PT Putra Riau Perkasa, of deceiving public “in an attempt to dupe the public into believing that the company is ‘going green’. According to this report, claims by APP in developing PT Putra Riau Perkasa as a “Carbon Reserve” project in Kampar Peninsula on Sumatra Island, “is only half true.” PT Putra Riau Perkasa’s own micro-delineation report found that none of the 15,640 hectares of land covered by the concession was suitable for development as pulpwood plantations, the report said. "This was because the land satisfied all of the legal requirements for designation as protected zone, with 12,799 hectares consisting of deep peat, 1,429 hectares of being rich in biodiversity, and 1,270 hectares satisfying the criteria for protection as a nature reserve," says the report. The announcement of Kampar Carbon Reserve initiative to the public, APP is only “doing nothing more than attempting to establish its “green credentials” in the face of mounting international criticism” for Sinar Mas’ notorious forestry practices, according to Greenomics.
A group of prominent scientists has published an open letter challenging the objectivity of World Growth International, an NGO that claims to operate on behalf of the world's poor, and its leader Alan Oxley, a former trade diplomat who also chairs ITS Global, a marketing firm.
"WGI and ITS — which are frequently involved in promoting industrial logging and oil palm and wood pulp plantations internationally — have at times treaded a thin line between reality and a significant distortion of facts," the scientists, led by William F. Laurance, a researcher at James Cook University, write.
The scientists note that while the groups have not disclosed their sources of funding—Oxley told The Star it is 'immaterial'—they assert ITS receives funding from Sinar Mas, an Indonesian conglomerate that controls Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a forest products brand, and Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology, a palm oil firm, among other companies...
Sinar Mas hired a group of auditors to evaluate the evidence, published by Greenpeace International, of its oil palm division’s role in the clearance of carbon-rich peatlands and critical wildlife habitat in Indonesia. Sinar Mas claimed that the audit showed it ‘operates responsibly and within the laws’ and that Greenpeace claims were ‘exaggerated or wrong’, a move which backfired when the auditors themselves criticised the company for misrepresenting its findings.
However, rather than address the impact of its current operations on the climate, Sinar Mas has since hired the Australia-based consultancy ITS Global (International Trade Strategies Global) to ‘assess the validity and accuracy of the claims’ made by Greenpeace ‘based on the evidence cited in the report’. ITS Global is headed by Alan Oxley – a well-known industry apologist.
ITS Global appears to have been paid by Sinar Mas to cast doubt on the reliability of Greenpeace evidence – without any attempt to ground-truth the validity of the findings or to provide credible evidence to back up its claims. The validity of the data used by Greenpeace is demonstrated below.
40 European NGOs sent a letter to paper companies demanding to stop any eventual purchase of paper from the Indonesian-Chinese paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). APP and its fibre suppliers are estimated to be the single largest source of rainforest destruction in Sumatra and are pushing three highly endangered species - the Sumatran tiger, elephant and orang-utan - closer to extinction.
Doing business with APP at this time supports the further expansion of its operations into Indonesia’s last tropical forests and peatlands. The company is, in our view, the least responsible pulp and paper producer globally. Since it began operations in the 1980s, APP is estimated to have pulped more than 1 million hectares of natural forests in Sumatra. The company now has forestry operations in Kalimantan to fill wood supply gaps and is trying to enter Papua, Indonesia’s last forest frontier.
Sumatra’s peat swamp forests not only provide habitat for endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, they are also of critical importance in mitigating climate change. The clearing and draining of peatlands is the key reason why Indonesia is the world’s third largest GHG emitter.
The report shows how major brands like Walmart, Auchan and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) are fueling climate change and pushing Sumatran tigers and orang-utans towards the brink of extinction. zoom Download the full report These companies are using or selling paper made from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), part of the notorious Sinar Mas group that is destroying Indonesia’s rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands. Greenpeace investigated two important rainforest areas on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and discovered that Sinar Mas is wreaking environmental havoc in both. The Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape is one of the last refuges for endangered Sumatran tigers and orang-utans. Kerumutan’s carbon rich peatlands are a key defence against climate change; some of the forest’s peat is deeper than three meters and thus illegal to clear under Indonesian law. Sinar Mas' paper arm APP uses the logs from these rainforest areas to feed its Sumatran based pulp mills, which export pulp and paper products worldwide.
EU Ecolabel is awarded to two brands of photocopy paper, produced by the Indonesian company Pindo Deli, that do not deserve it. Further- more, while documenting this case it became clear that there is insufficient information publicly available to allow consumers to check on which basis the EU Ecolabel has been awarded to companies. PT WKS’s operation in Jambi province in Sumatra have serious impacts on forests, indigenous peoples and local communities. Research by Indonesian NGOs indicates that PT WKS’s operations in the Bukit Tigapuluh forest ecosystem may not even be legal.
35 Indonesian NGOs sent a letter to companies to ask them to reduce your company’s consumption and environmental footprint by establishing social and environmental safeguards on procurement and by helping to bring about crucial changes to the Indonesian pulp and paper industry’s practices as well as supporting related government policy reforms. The Indonesian NGOs request that investors adopt similar safeguards in relation to investments in Indonesia’s pulp and paper sector.
Indonesian NGOs take public stance on paper giant’s misleading marketing push and call for severing ties with company
Long a controversial company, APP has recently stepped up its public relations efforts with a series of infomercials touting its environmental and social accomplishments and misleading certification claims. These moves may be an effort to pave the way for the company’s anticipated issuing of bonds and a possible initial public offering (IPO) of its Chinese division, and comes at the same time as new investments in direct sales capacity in Europe and North American paper markets.
The recent certification of an Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)/Sinar Mas pulp plantation by the Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (LEI) suggests that the LEI standards need to be strengthened, as APP products are not sustainable, a group of non- governmental organizations in Indonesia warned global paper buyers today.
The NGOs call on LEI to follow FSC to make a similar policy and review its relationship with APP/SMG and their associated companies.
The environmental organizations in Sumatra call APP/SMG to solve its real issue: large-scale destruction of natural forest, emissions from natural forest and peat destruction and social problems.
Tools & Solutions
EoF maps of Indonesia
Forests and deforestation on updated google maps