Friday, October 20, 2006

Paper company threatens Sumatran forests and wildlife

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the world's largest paper and pulp companies, is going to destroy one of the most delicate of all remaining ecosystems in Indonesia - the peat swamp forests of Kampar Peninsula in Sumatra. From the press release:
The report also reveals how APP hides its continued destruction of natural tropical rainforests that house Sumatran tigers and elephants behind a global advertising campaign that misleads buyers who are increasingly concerned with the company's poor environmental performance. In August, APP ran an advertisement in the New York Times and London Times claiming it was committed to "conservation beyond compliance".

The Kampar Peninsula consists of approximately 400,000 hectares of large, still relatively intact peat swamp forest which is an important habitat for Sumatran tiger. Jikalahari, a local NGO network, and WWF have proposed it as a national park. But APP is getting ready to clear the forest on top of a deep peat dome.

"If APP would abide by its own 'conservation beyond compliance' propaganda, none of this forest would be cleared," said Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia's Director of Policy & Corporate Engagement. "But apparently the company decided to run a global propaganda campaign rather than protect forests with high conservation values."

Since it began operations in the 1980s, APP has pulped close to a million hectares of Riau's natural forests. WWF's latest report details how APP's "forest protection based on legal compliance" has destroyed about a third of the forest lost in Riau.

In the past, APP had pledged to protect few small blocks of high conservation value forests (HCVF). However, according to SmartWood, which was hired by APP to audit its performance in protecting these HCVFs, APP failed to protect them. In a meeting with WWF in June this year, APP then refused to guarantee that HCVF would be excluded from its future logging and wood sourcing operations.

"APP simply cannot afford to protect natural forests as it needs wood to keep its pulp mill running," added Foead. "With failing plantations, it is likely that APP will continue to pulp the remaining forests until none are left to be cut."

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