The much-touted new deforestation policy of controversial paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) will save almost no forests in its main base of operations, Sumatra, Indonesia, a new report by NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest has concluded.
APP and Sinar Mas announced the policy in February as “an end to the clearing of natural forest across its entire supply chain in Indonesia, with immediate effect.” However, a new Eyes on the Forest (EoF) analysis that looks at all APP concessions – including those not covered by the moratorium - in Riau Province, Sumatra, found that the policy protects at most 5,000 hectares of natural forest. This compares to the deforestation of more than 2 million hectares caused by the operation of APP’s Sumatra pulp mills over the past three decades.
“We’re extremely disappointed. When APP published the policy, we thought it could be great news for Indonesia’s forests, biodiversity and citizens,” said Nazir Foead, Conservation Director of WWF-Indonesia. “However, after this new analysis for Sumatra, it appears that the company has announced a halt to deforestation only after completing nearly all the deforestation it could possible do.”
Among APP’s many natural forest wood sources are the concessions of its suppliers in Riau Province. They alone lost more than 680,000 hectares of natural forest between the start of the company’s Riau pulp mill in 1984 and 2012. Of that, 77% was lost in legally questionable ways, while an even larger proportion - 83% - consumed the habitat of critically endangered Sumatran tigers and elephants.
WWF called on APP and Sinar Mas to announce a forest restoration commitment.
“The company is asking for a grand amnesty, for the ‘past to be forgotten’, leaving our country to deal with devastated ecosystems, social conflicts, on-going greenhouse gas emissions and critically endangered species who lost their habitat,” says Aditya Bayunanda, GFTN and pulp & paper manager of WWF Indonesia. “That is not acceptable, Indonesian NGOs are calling on APP to restore selected peatlands and forests lost in protected, High Conservation Value areas and to mitigate the damage its operations caused to surrounding natural forests, peat soils, and wildlife.”