"Paper Giant Gets Heat Over Indonesian Forests"

Nov. 10, 2011; Monsters and Critics.com: By Ahmad Pathoni. "JAKARTA -- An Indonesian pulp and paper company accused by Greenpeace of helping destroy the country's rainforests has been on the defensive after the global environmental group announced more companies were cutting ties with it.

Greenpeace said last week that seven major companies, including toymaker Hasbro Inc, New Zealand's largest group of department stores The Warehouse Group Ltd and luxury pen maker Montblanc International GmbH had decided to stop buying from Asia Pulp & Paper Co (APP).

Greenpeace said it had found extensive clearance of rainforests inside APP plantations on Sumatra island, including areas mapped as habitat for the endangered Sumatran tiger.

'APP must stop the destruction of natural forests and peatland conversions,' said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace South-East Asia forest campaigner. 'From the perspective of climate change, what APP is doing is far from being sustainable forest management.'

Pelalawan, Riau, Indonesia

Aerial view of forest plantations near Pelalawan, Riau, Indonesia

APP, one of the world's largest pulp and paper companies, is owned by the Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, which also controls palm oil plantations that environmentalists say threaten forests and the habitat of endangered animals.

APP produces 7 million tons of pulp, paper and packaging a year and markets its products to 65 countries, according to company figures.

Its managing director Aida Greenbury said the company's operations followed Indonesian laws and that the Greenpeace campaign was misdirected.

'Greenpeace is attacking the policies of the Indonesian government, which allows industrial forest concessions in peatland and natural forest areas,' Greenbury said in an interview.

Peatland releases enormous quantities of carbon when burned or drained and its destruction results in pollution that contributes to global warming.

'Accusations that APP is destroying forests are not true,' she said. 'APP performs strict due diligence on timber suppliers from around the world and they are audited by world-class auditors,' she said.

Greenbury said Indonesian-made paper still contains wood from natural forests that were not of high conservation value.

'Timber from natural forests can be sustainable,' she said. 'The question is: Why are we as an Indonesian company being singled out?'

Indonesia is estimated to be the world's third-largest producer of greenhouse gasses, largely owing to the rapid destruction of its forests. It aims to reduce the emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2020.

In May, Indonesia issued a decree committing the country to a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear about 64 million hectares of natural forest and peatland.

However, the moratorium did not affect existing forestry concessions and those that had been approved in principle.

Greenpeace said the move did not go far enough, arguing that about 40 million hectares of forest could still be destroyed, including some of the last habitats of endangered species like the orang-utan and the Sumatran tiger.

A spokesman for the Forestry Ministry, Masyhud, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said the moratorium was likely to be extended until 2015.

'We are strictly monitoring existing forest concessions,' he said. 'We cannot just close them because that would be against the law as their licences are legally binding.'

Greenpeace said major retailers such as Carrefour SA, Auchan SA, Metro Group and Tesco Plc have all dropped APP from their own-brand products in the last two years.

Mattel Inc, the US toy company that produces Barbie dolls, said in June that it would direct its suppliers to stop buying wood products from APP after Greenpeace activists dressed as Barbie and her boyfriend Ken scaled its headquarters in a protest against its use of APP-made paper.

Greenpeace said tests by a US-based paper testing company, Integrated Paper Services (IPS), found that APP paper packaging used by toy makers in North America contained mixed tropical hardwood, indicating that some of the raw materials originated in natural forests.

APP in turn accused Greenpeace of misleading toy companies by making what it called 'false claims' that its products had been proven to contain Indonesian rainforest fibre.

The company said IPS had confirmed that it was only able to determine the types of fibres present in such samples and had not been able to identify country of origin of the samples.

APP has insisted that 95 per cent of its packaging materials came from recycled paper, while the remainder is sourced from certified forests around the world.

Greenpeace's Maitar said such a claim was questionable. 'They keep changing the claims about the percentage of recycled paper. Earlier this they said it was 75 per cent,' he said. 'The truth is samples we submitted were from Indonesia and made in Indonesia.' Neither the Warehouse nor Hasbro replied to email queries from dpa.

Hasbro said on its website that its procurement policy seeks to ensure that products it buys are environmentally sustainable.

The company said it 'expects all suppliers of forest products to demonstrate compliance with all applicable international and national legal requirements for forest management, harvest, manufacturing and trade.

'No sources of Mixed Tropical Hardwood virgin fiber shall be used in Hasbro products, including packaging,' it said.

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: Nov. 10, 2011
Author: Ahmad Pathoni
Publisher-Link: http://www.monstersandcritics.com external_link
Reference-Link: Paper Giant Gets Heat Over Indonesian Forests external_link

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