Friday, April 21, 2006

Sumatra┬┤s peat swamp forest threatened with collapse, must be protected

Environmental organizations Jikalahari, CAPPA, ROBIN WOOD and Friends of the Earth from Indonesia, Finland and UK warn today that one of the largest tropical peat swamp forests in the world might collapse if logging operations and conversion of peat swamp forests into plantations by the paper companies APRIL and APP continue. More

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cambodia. The Death of the Forests

World Rainforest Movement - March 2006 - New publication "The Death of the Forest. A report on Wuzhishan's and Green Rich's tree plantation activities in Cambodia".
Proponents of industrial tree plantations argue that the plantations are "reforestation", increasing the area of forest, providing jobs for local people, or reducing pressure on natural forests.
The reality in Cambodia exposes these arguments for propaganda. Approximately 85 per cent of Cambodia's 13 million population lives in rural areas. A significant majority of the rural population are subsistence farmers who depend on farmland, rivers and forests for their livelihoods. During the 1990s, the government handed over approximately seven million hectares to logging companies. Although most of these concessions have now been revoked, logging continues, both legally and illegally. One of the mechanisms through which logging continues is the granting of large-scale land concessions (or "economic concessions" as they are sometimes referred to), including concessions for industrial tree plantations.
There are currently close to 1,000,000 hectares under land concessions in Cambodia, for agro-industrial crops such as cassava, sugar cane, rubber, pulpwood and oil palm. The year 2004 was marked by a boom of tree plantations for pulp and paper, with two giants breaking ground and further seeking large tracts of forest land for eucalyptus and acacia plantations: Wuzhishan LS Cambodia Group and Green Rich Co. Ltd., also known as the Green Elite Group. While these names are little known internationally or even in Cambodia, the companies behind them, Pheapimex and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), are well-known: they are powerful, unaccountable and are known to have operated in the past in disregard of laws, welfare of local people and the environment. Pheapimex is a Cambodian company, while APP is probably the best known Asian pulp and paper company, infamous for the staggering sum of its debt, its deplorable environmental and social record and for its destructive capabilities. This report examines these companies' operations in Cambodia, the impacts observed to date on the local populations and the environment, and the associated human rights violations.