Thursday, May 21, 2015

Norwegian children´s books are destroying the rainforest

<p>Little Red Riding Hood and Postman Pat are destroying the rainforest. Independent forensic fiber tests commissioned by the Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) reveal significant quantities of mixed tropical hardwood in nearly half of the 24 books tested. RFN now calls on the publishers to clean up their supply chains.</p>
<p>– It is about time we remove deforestation, tiger extinction and human rights abuses from our children’s books. Unless the publishers and printing companies clean up their supply chain, Little Red Riding Hood will no longer have a forest to run through on her way to her grandmother’s house”, says Lars Løvold, executive director of Rainforest Foundation Norway.</p>
<p>In order to save money, Norwegian publishers are outsourcing their book printing and manufacturing to China. China is the number one importer of timber and pulp from Indonesia, where enormous areas of rainforest are destroyed to meet the global paper demand. The pulp and timber is ultimately used to produce books and other printed materials, which in turn end up in Norwegian bookstores. According to Statistics Norway, close to half of all picture books for children imported into Norway in 2014 came from China.</p>
<p>Rainforest fiber in 11 of 24 books In RFN’s investigation, 24 randomly chosen children´s books sold in Norwegian bookstores were tested. Paper samples from the books were analyzed in a laboratory in the USA, which identified fibers from rainforest timber (mixed tropical hardwood) in 11 out of the24 books. Although RFN’s test basis was relatively small and thus can not be considered statistically representative, it is notable that nearly half of the books (from 8 of 14 different publishers) contained fiber linked to rainforest destruction.</p>
<p>Similar investigations of children’s books in other European countries and in the USA have also found mixed tropical hardwood in significant amounts of the books tested. Hence, the Norwegian results are part of a larger trend in the publishing industry, where printing of children´s books on paper stemming from destroyed rainforest is a widespread problem.</p>
<p>Causing trouble in Indonesia<br /> Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world. However, it also has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation. It is estimated that more than a million hectares of rainforests are being cleared every year.</p>
<p>The rainforest in Indonesia is under enormous pressure. Without urgent action to remedy the problems caused by the pulp and paper industry, paper linked to rainforest destruction will continue to find its way into Norwegian children’s books, says Løvold.</p>
<p>Millions of people depend on Indonesia’s forests for their livelihoods and cultural identity. The destruction of natural forests frequently brings paper companies into conflict with indigenous peoples and other local communities, and severe abuses and human rights violations are common. The logging and the ever-expanding timber plantations are leading to the endangering of animals such as the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger.</p>
<p>Norwegian publishers must take responsibility<br /> Unfortunately, it is impossible for a consumer entering a bookstore to distinguish books that destroy the rainforest from books that do not. Therefore, Rainforest Foundation Norway has launched a <a href="http://www.regnskog.no/no/bevisst-forbruker/underskrift-barnebok">consumer petition</a> demanding that Norwegian publishers take action and stop printing books on paper that contain mixed tropical hardwood.</p>
<p>No parent wants to destroy the rainforest while reading a bed time story to their children. The publishers have to change their current policies and practices so that they prevent paper from rainforest destruction in their books, says Løvold.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gaps in Indonesia’s forest legality verification system: paper importers at risk

Indonesia’s wood products audit and certification system remains inadequate in assuring legality, a new briefing released by rhe Raininforest Action Network finds. The briefing provides detailed recommendations about how the system can be improved to address these shortcomings. Buyers wishing to avoid products that violate community legal rights, as well as authorities charged with enforcing import legality legislation, should refrain from relying solely on the verification system for assurance that products certified by the system comply with Indonesian law.

Known as the Indonesian Timber Legality Verification System, or Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), the certification system was put into place to regulate Indonesia’s forestry sector. However, the briefing finds that rigorous, enhanced due diligence into the sourcing of forest products is still needed, even when those products bear a SVLK “legality” or “sustainability” certificate, before buyers can be confident that Indonesian forestry companies are upholding communities’ legal rights.

The report finds that loopholes in the SVLK auditing standards and weaknesses in its application result in a failure to provide adequate safeguards against endemic corruption and violations of community rights. In one example, the SVLK standard so undervalues community rights that companies may be certified as “sustainable” even when an audit finds a company in violation of all of their legal obligations to local communities. Further, SVLK audits rely heavily on “desk study” of documents without any requirement for unannounced field evaluations to assess implementation. In this way, the report finds, companies are attaining legal and “sustainable” certifications even while violating human rights.

“Certifying forest products as legal, even while they are associated with significant violations of communities’ legal rights, contributes to the continued abuses of communities and misleads buyers about risks associated with forest products,” said Rainforest Action Network’s Lafcadio Cortesi. “Perversely, this false veneer of legality and sustainability may increase the market share of these forest product companies. What’s needed is for buyers to conduct enhanced due diligence and engage their suppliers, as well as the government of Indonesia, to improve practices, the SVLK standard and its application, so that communities’ legal rights are respected and enforced.”

The briefing recommends that forest product buyers and investors make it known to producer companies, home governments and the Indonesian government that communities’ legal and human rights are an important part of the legality of the supply chain and that the SVLK should be strengthened in order to provide better assurance that community rights are respected. Further, it calls on buyers to engage the EU government to refrain from offering a “green lane” to shipments with SVLK certificates until the weaknesses described in the briefing are addressed. The report also recommends that buyers and investors engage the Japanese government to further clarify and enforce Green Purchasing laws and to not accept SVLK as adequate assurance of legality until the weaknesses in the SVLK have been addressed.

 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Greenomics Indonesia: more than 4,000 hectares of deep peat forest lost on APP supplier concession

According to a new press release by Greenomics Indonesia, more than 4,000 hectares (or more than 10,000 acres)  of forested deep peatlands have been lost on a concession belonging to one of the largest suppliers of APP, located in the province of West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The loss of the said forested deep peatlands has been significant over the course of just three months, from late June to mid-September 2014.

"APP needs to adhere to its association procedure policy so as to clean up its supply chain having regard to its "zero deforestation policy" and temporarily suspend its contract with the supplier as a result of this very extensive loss of forested deep peatlands on the concession of one of its suppliers in Indonesian Borneo," said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia.

Vanda said that PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH) – which primarily operates in South Sumatra province and is one of APP's largest and most important pulpwood suppliers – also has a concession located in the province of West Kalimantan. Based on legal documents submitted officially by BMH to the Ministry of Forestry (now the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry), it is acknowledged that BMH’s concession in West Kalimantan will serve as the APP's longterm supplier.

"The massive loss of forested deep peatlands on the BMH concession in West Kalimantan demands that APP remains consistent to its association procedure policy, as BMH South Sumatra and BMH West Kalimantan are one and the same company, which has pulpwood plantation development concessions in different provinces," explained Vanda.

She said that Greenomics wanted to see APP form a multi-stakeholder-based independent team to investigate the direct and indirect causes of the loss of the peatlands in the BMH West Kalimantan concession as BMH South Sumatra was an important supplier to the existing APP mills, as well as its new mill that is due to commence operations next year in South Sumatra province.

"APP obviously needs to suspend its contract with BMH South Sumatra while the independent multi-stakeholder team conducts its investigation and issues recommendations for implementation by APP," said Vanda.

She reminded APP that it must not ignore the loss of the forested deep peatlands on the BMH concession in West Kalimantan by, for example, continuing to source pulpwood fiber from BMH South Sumatra.
"If that were to happen, it would mean that APP would be failing to abide by its responsible fiber procurement and processing policies under its Forest Conservation Policy," Vanda stressed.

According to Greenomics Indonesia, APP should temporarily suspend its contract with the supplier and launch an independent multi-stakeholder investigation on this case.


According to APP, which sent an investigative team over the weekend to conduct field checks on GPS points mentioned by  the Greenomics' report, BMH apparently isn't currently operating in the concession area.

"Based on the information provided by the community, no companies are operating in BMH West Kalimantan, including: no BMH West Kalimantan's camps, supporting infrastructure, land clearing or planting," Aida Greenbury, of APP's managing director of sustainability, told MongabayGreenbury said that while BMH secured a license from the Ministry of Forestry to convert the area for timber plantations, the company was refused entry by the local community when it tried to conduct field surveys in 2008 and 2009. Since then, there has effectively been a stand-off in the area. 


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Brutal murder at APP concession

On Friday, Indra Kailani (23) of Lubuk Mandarsah was killed by security guards hired by Asia Pulp & Paper sister company PT. Wirakarya Sakti (WKS) in Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, Jambi Province, Sumatra. On the day of the murder, “Tebo Farmers Group (Serikat Petani Tebo)” including the village was organizing a rice harvest festival. Indra came to a security post in the District 8 of WKSconcession to pick up Nick Karim of Walhi Jambi to join the festival, then the security guards started to quarrel with Indra, then at least 7 security guards started to beat him up. Walhi Jambi reported that Nick asked one security guard to help Indra from the brutal attack, but the guard rejected it. Nick then left the post to inform his colleagues and villagers of the incident. By the time Nick returned with roughly 30 villagers, Indra was missing and the security officer on duty denied knowing anything about the incident.
Police in Tebo district were alerted and conducted a search Friday evening. Indra's body was discovered the next day in swamp forest area 7 km away from the guard post, and roughly 400 meters from the road. Indra's feet were bound with rope and his mouth stuffed with a t-shirt. His body showed signs of severe beating. Witnesses said that his corpse was taken by a car while his head was covered by his own shirt.

Tebo police say they are now seeking seven suspects in the killing, which comes after years of conflict between the company and local villagers over land claims. The village has been in conflict with WKS for a long time over their land tenure for 3,000 ha. For the past year, WAHLI has been working to facilitate a conflict resolution process between WKS and villagers as part of WKS's parent company APP's two-year-old zero deforestation policy, which includes both social and environmental provisions. That process has included mapping and delineating local land claims and small agricultural plots within areas granted as concessions to the company.
Earlier year, a joint NGO evaluation of APP’s social conflict resolution efforts showed a serious lack of progress in resolving many conflicts APP suppliers have. “This incident appears to be only the tip of an iceberg. Indra’s village has had long-lasting conflict with WKS. There are hundreds of such conflicts between local people and SMG/APP suppliers in Sumatra and Kalimantan,” said Muslim Rasyid, Coordinator of Jikalahari and EoF. “We call on SMG/APP to put serious efforts into resolving these conflicts as soon as possible.”

“This appears to be a pre-meditated brutal murder,” said Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of Walhi Riau, a member of the EoF coalition. “We hope that justice is done this time, unlike 2010 and 2012 cases in which two farmers were killed under similar circumstances arising from social conflicts with APP suppliers in Jambi and Riau.”
“We have known Indra through our forest monitoring training as a part of European Union FLEGT funded project, co-organized by WWF and Warsi. We will miss him. Our hearts are with his family,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader WWF-Indonesia. “We urge Jambi Police to conduct swift and conclusive investigation and SMG/APP to fully cooperate and be transparent in the investigation. WWF decided to suspend further discussion with APP on conservation issues until we see a significant closure of this conflict.”
Greenpeace, which has been working with APP to implement the policy, immediately condemned the killing and called for "full and unconditional cooperation" from APP in the investigation. "APP must take immediate action to ensure that this is fully and fairly investigated by the authorities with full and unconditional cooperation from the company. APP must also launch a full investigation of security procedures and its contractors to ensure such incidents never happen again. We expect the company to be transparent in addressing this issue," said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace's Indonesia forest campaign. "Following a fair and comprehensive investigation, those directly and indirectly responsible for Indra’s death, including members of the security firm and APP, must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law if found to have been connected to this tragic death."Given the gravity of this incident, the conflict resolution process must be prioritized on this case and across all APP operations in order to ensure justice is delivered. In the interim, Greenpeace will step back from other engagement with APP to focus on addressing the serious issues highlighted by this case.”

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Rainforest Alliance : an evaluation of APP’s progress to meet its forest policy

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) released today first independent evaluation of its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) made by the Rainforest Alliance. The evaluation concludes that the company has made moderate progress towards meeting its commitments, but it also highlighted a number of shortcoming that need to be addressed.

In the past, has been criticized for extensive clearance of rainforest areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan, many of which are located on carbon rich peatlands. The development and operation of plantations in these areas is a major source of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions driving its emissions to third largest of any nation. The company’s deforestation legacy includes the clearance of vital rainforest habitat for species such as the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, and far too often created social conflict over forestland by failing to respect human rights.

On February, APP announced a new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) that committed to ending deforestation and further addresses the company’s environmental and social impacts and associated criticism.

According to the auditing report, many problems still are unresolved. Among them, 

  • with the exception of the halt of canal development, there is no change in the management practices in peatlands
  • around 90% of the several hundred other conflicts that APP has mapped is still unresolved
  • social commitments at policy level are not consistently mirrored by implementation on the ground
  • some plantations where HCV assessors have identified some HCVs as being present continued to be harvested without implementation of the recommended measures to protect the HCVs identified.
  • APP has not implemented measures on the ground to fully protect moratorium areas from third part clearance
    management of the fire risk is weak
  • although important steps towards greater transparency, this is not at the degree of transparency “complete Transparency” claimed by the company.

APP welcomed the Rainforest Alliance independent evaluation and announced further steps to improve its implementation of the policy” said Aida Greenbury, of APP. “We’re pleased that the Rainforest Alliance has recognised the progress we are making.“The report has highlighted a number of areas which require additional focus. Its findings, along with feedback from other stakeholders, have been used to inform our FCP implementation plan for 2015 and beyond, which we are introducing today."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NGOs coalition lodges corruption cases against 27 pulp suppliers

A coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations lodged corruption cases involving 27 forestry companies in Riau to anti-corruption commission (KPK) in Jakarta Tuesday, media reports said. Coalition of Anti-Forest Mafia (Koalisi Anti-Mafia Hutan/KAMH) filed 27 pulpwood suppliers associated to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) for allegedly bribing Riau government officials for issuing licenses in period of 2002-2006.


 

“We hope KPK to be more progressive in scrutinizing corporations involved in Riau forestry corruption as they also obtained licenses which caused State losses and forest ecosystem destruction in the province,” said Evan Sembiring from Walhi Riau, one member of coalition.

The KAMH coalition consists of WALHI, Jikalahari, Riau Corruption Trial, Indonesia Corruption Watch, Yayasan Auriga, YLBHI, Transparency International Indonesia, IWGFF, ELSAM, and Indonesia Legal Roundtable.

Evan Sembiring said, KPK could bring corporates to the justice as suspects of corruption as the cases of officials had been definitely penalized by the Law. The alleged companies could be sanctioned with imprisonment of their management, fined and license annulment.

EoF learns that forestry-related corruption cases in Riau had punished six officials to jail in the province including district heads, forestry service heads and governor. However, none of companies involved in the corruption are prosecuted despite they are partners in crime as final decision announced by judges saying the defendants found guilty in collaborating with companies to cause losses to State.

Evan Sembiring said 7 of 27 companies allegedly bribed former Indragiri Hilir district Rusli Zainal and former Indragiri Hulu district head Tamsir Rachman in getting logging licenses of 120,745 hectares forest in 2002-2006 that converted into pulpwood plantation. They are PT. Artelindo Wirautama, PT. Citra Sumber Sejahtera, PT. Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT. Mitra Kembang Selaras, PT. Sumber Maswana Lestari, PT Bina Duta Laksana, and PT Riau Indo Agropalma.

In Siak and Pelalawan districts, majority of 27 companies, have allegedly bribed Arwin A.S., Azmun Jaafar, Asral Rachman, Syuhada Tasman, Burhanuddin Husin, and Rusli Zainal as then Governor in getting logging licenses. All six officials have been sentenced by the Anti-corruption Court ranging from 4 and half year to 14 year imprisonment

Evan Sembiring said, KPK could bring corporates to the justice as suspects of corruption as the cases of officials had been definitely penalized by the Law. The alleged companies could be sanctioned with imprisonment of their management, fined and license annulment.

The 27 companies that sued by the NGOs coalition are: PT Artelindo Wiratama, PT Citra Sumber Sejahtera, PT Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT Mitra Kembang Selaras, PT Sumber Maswana Lestari, PT Bina Duta Laksana, PT Riau Indo Agropalma, PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari, PT Selaras Abadi Utama, PT Uniseraya, CV Tuah Negeri, CV Mutiara Lestari, CV Putri Lindung Bulan, PT Mitra Tani Nusa Sejati, PT Rimba Mutiara Permai, CV Bhakti Praja Mulia, PT Triomas FDI, PT Satria Perkasa Agung, PT Mitra Hutani Jaya, CV Alam Lestari, PT Madukoro, CV Harapan Jaya, PT Bina Daya Bintara, PT Seraya Sumber Lestari, PT Balai Kayang Mandiri, PT Rimba Mandau Lestari, and PT National Timber Forest.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Environmental Paper Network Welcomes Asia Pulp and Paper’s Announcement.

The Environmental Paper Networks (EPN) of Europe and North America cautiously welcome today’s announcement by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) of a plan to work with global and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to restore and support the conservation of one million hectares of rainforest across Indonesia.
With its announcement, APP commits to all elements of "The First Test", a set of Performance Milestones developed by the EPN in September last year (1), to guide the company towards ending its controversial practices. The Milestones’ scope is not intended as a standard for responsible paper production, but rather as a first step towards activity consistent with the EPN and EEPN Common Vision for sustainable paper production, trade and use (2).

"APP’s announcement is a significant step forward towards addressing the legacy of its extensive negative impact on forests, peatlands and communities in Indonesia," said Sergio Baffoni, of the European Environmental Paper Network.

"Resolving and compensating for the company's past legacy of environmental and social impacts will require a number of years. Independent third party auditing to verify the implementation of these commitments by APP will help customers and investors to determine the actual progress towards the Performance Milestones in due course. We hope that these milestones can also help to guide action by other pulp and paper companies in Indonesia and elsewhere to address their controversial heritage,” said Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network in North America.

The forest conservation and restoration commitment is equivalent to the approximate area of plantations operated by APP suppliers in 2013 and thus represents a 1 for 1 approach to addressing the company's legacy (3). Indonesia's rainforests are some of the most biologically diverse forests on the planet. They provide livelihoods to millions of people, they sustain the last habitats of Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orang-utan, and their peat bogs sequester a massive amount of carbon. These forests however have been experiencing one of the world's highest rates of deforestation due to development of industrial plantations for commodities such as palm oil and pulp and paper.

For many years, APP has been criticised for its extensive clearance of tropical forests in Sumatra and Borneo, many of which were located on deep peat bogs and/or were the habitat of critically endangered elephants, tigers, rhinos and orang-utans. The deforestation has led to numerous conflicts with local and indigenous communities whose tenure rights were ignored.

After 30 years of operation, in February 2013 APP announced a new “Forest Conservation Policy". The EPN's "The First Test" was a collective response to this policy by many NGOs, articulating a set of Performance Milestones that APP needed to achieve to address the gaps and weaknesses of their policy. These included the need for due process in ensuring local communities give full and prior-informed consent to use of their land, the need for forest restoration or compensation, closing of loop-holes in the policy regarding forest acquisitions, addressing damage to peat land, and ensuring independent third-party monitoring of progress in implementing the plan.

NGOs are now urging Indonesia's second-largest pulp and paper producer APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International), part of the large conglomerate Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE), to also comply with the EPN Milestones.

The Environmental Paper Network is a coalition of 122 NGOs from 26 countries including Indonesia who share a Common Vision for a future where paper is produced and used sustainably.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Sergio Baffoni, +49 162 3812 528 Email: sergio.baffoni@environmentalpaper.eu

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
(1) EPN Performance Milestones: The First Test: http://environmentalpaper.org/milestones/
(2) EPN Common Vision: http://environmentalpaper.org/our-vision/ 
(3) EPN expects that the commitment to restore and conserve 1m ha of natural ecosystems will be in addition to the approximately 260,000 ha of natural forests the company is required by law to protect in its 2.6m ha of plantations anyway.