Friday, November 09, 2012

Exposing Indonesian deforestation in Europe

Three Indonesian forest activists are traveling across Europe to explain the impacts of paper production in Indonesia. The delegation is touring nine European cities in November, meeting customers of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and other Indonesian paper companies, potential investors, paper industry companies, government officials, journalists, environmental campaigners and the general public. Member organisations from across the European Environmental Paper Network are collaborating to organise the tour.

The three Indonesians are Hariansyah Usman from WALHI in Riau, Aidil Fitri from Yayasan Wahana Bumi Hijau in South Sumatra, and Muslim, co-ordinator of Jikalahari, from Riau. All three will be educating the people they meet about what Indonesian paper production is like on the ground, and what impacts it has on the forests and local communities of Sumatra.

A Sumatran indigenous leader stands beside his community’s forest land, lost to pulp production In order to supply their pulp mills, Indonesian paper companies have resorted to landgrabbing, by obtaining the use of land without the free, prior and informed consent of all affected communities. Despite paper company assurances that they respect local people’s rights, in fact thousands of Indonesian communities are now living beside pulp plantations without having had the opportunity to have their say in how the land should be utilised. Too often they have been deprived of a vital source of food, fibre, medicine, timber, firewood or cash crops.

Loss of natural forest also has devastating impacts on wildlife and biodiversity, including endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros and orang-utan. In addition, timber extraction on Sumatra’s deep peat soils causes alarming levels of carbon emissions.

The visiting delegation hopes to raise concerns about plans by the Indonesian pulp industry to increase its pulp mill capacity, thus putting even more pressure on communities and forests. Each new pulp mill would mean decades of destruction. European investors and paper companies must avoid being responsible for such a future.

The Indonesians’ schedule will be as follows: 10 November, Berlin
11-13 November, London
13-15 November, Brussels
15-17 November, Barcelona
17-20 November, Rome
20-22 November, Vienna
22-25 November, Dusseldorf
25-28 November, Helsinki
28 November, Zurich
29 November, Geneva

The EEPN is delighted to be hosting this tour, thanks to financial support from the Grassroots Foundation, Siemenpuu Foundation, JMG Foundation and our member organisations. It is part of our Indonesian Forests campaign.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Warning to financiers: don't fund forest destruction

Financial institutions have been warned today to avoid investments in pulp and paper mills associated with deforestation and human rights abuses in Indonesia. Sixty environmental and social non-governmental organisations, including a dozen Indonesian civil society groups, are sending letters to banks and other financial institutions around the world asking for assurances that they will not invest in increased pulp milling capacity by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) or other companies associated with the Sinar Mas Group until reforms have been achieved.

Three representatives from Indonesian social and environmental NGOs that are signatories to the letter will travel to Europe this week to meet with investors, governments, NGOs and media in eight countries. They will present information on the social and environmental impacts of APP and other Indonesian pulp and paper manufacturers.

Aidil Fitri, who will travel to Europe to represent Yayasan Wahana Bumi Hijau, said, ‘In South Sumatra APP is destroying natural peat lands forest, which is a living place for Sumatran tigers. In Jambi, Sumatra, APP has caused the loss of livelihood resources of thousands of local people. In Riau, Sumatra, APP is strongly indicated to have links with an illegal logging scandal and is currently being investigated by the Ministry of Environment.’

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is one of the world’s most controversial pulp and paper companies. It is reported to be planning a new pulp mill in Sumatra, Indonesia where the company is estimated to have already pulped more than two million hectares of natural forests. This new mill would produce between 1.5 and 2.0 million tonnes per year of bleached hardwood pulp, making it the largest single pulp line in the world.

The letter highlights APP’s past failures to honour its environmental covenants and to fulfil its financial obligations to investors. It also points to the loss of market confidence in APP, signaled by the loss of a number of high-profile customers (such as Staples, Office Depot, Hasbro, Mattel, Unilever, Nestle, Danone, Xerox and Mondi) as a result of concerns about its deforestation practices, community conflicts and the business and reputational risk to buyers.

Sergio Baffoni, Indonesian Forests Campaign Co-ordinator for EEPN, said, ‘APP’s hunger for fibre for cheap paper already leads them to unsustainable and legally questionable deforestation. Expansion of their pulp capacity will inevitably involve conversion of more and more rainforests into plantations, endangering species, violating local peoples’ rights and accelerating climate disaster.‘

Bustar Maitar of Greenpeace International said, ‘Asia Pulp & Paper’s repeated promises to become sustainable have been proven greenwash time and time again. Financial institutions should not be involved in APPs’ deforestation in Indonesia.’ The European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) is a coalition of 64 environmental and social NGOs in 24 countries that share a common vision for transforming the European paper industry to become ethical and sustainable. The letter is being delivered to banks and investors in Indonesia, China, Japan, USA, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, Taiwan, Australia and Sweden and published on the EEPN’s website: