National

NGOs accuse pulp and paper
giant of blocking deforestation
probe

A group of environmental NGOs has claimed that the pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is deliberately avoiding an independent enquiry into its deforestation practices in Indonesia by withdrawing from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Aditya Bayunanda of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia said that by quitting the FSC, APRIL was avoiding independent scrutiny of its operations as presented in the NGOs' formal complaint to the FSC.

“It means APRIL is effectively admitting that its deforestation practices are incompatible with the FSC,” he said in a joint statement between the WWF Indonesia, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network (RAN), made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

WWF data claims to show that APRIL and its suppliers in Riau have converted approximately 200,000 hectares of Sumatra’s rainforests into plantations during 2007-2012. Much of the area was vital forest habitat for critically endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers.

On June 22, the FSC announced that APRIL had asked its certification bodies to withdraw all of its FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certificates.

Lafcadio Cortesi of the RAN said companies like APRIL that were dependant on rainforest destruction were provoking social conflict through a failure to respect customary rights over land. “Such operations are clearly unsustainable,” he said.

Cortesi added by walking away from the FSC, APRIL was sending a clear signal to the market that it had no intention of stopping its destructive operations.

Greenpeace alleges that APRIL is now the largest driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia. Its suppliers planned to clear around 60,000 hectares of rainforest in 2012.

“Greenpeace is calling on any company buying from APRIL to cancel these contracts until it finally cleans up its act and stops trashing rainforests,” said Zulfahmi from Greenpeace Southeast Asia. (ebf)

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