INDONESIA – Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has been slammed again for illegal tree cutting, this time by a Sumatra-based environmental coalition, Eyes on the Forest (EOF).
According to a new report released by the coalition on 14 December, APP is conducting clear cutting operations in the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
This allegation was made after field investigations were conducted in June and October 2011 by the EOF coalition - which includes the Jikalahari “Riau Forest Rescue Network”, WALHI Riau, and WWF-Indonesia Riau Program – as well as historical satellite image analysis up to June 2011.
In the report, The truth behind APP’s Greenwash, the coalition found that an APP supplier, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, has been carrying out clear cutting operations inside the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary, pulping an estimate of more than two million hectares of Indonesia’s tropical forests since 1984.
The areas where APP’s clear cutting operations are conducted include habitats of unique forest types, elephants, tigers, and orang-utans, the report says.
In addition, the paper giant has been carrying out deep peat draining operations, which cause organic carbon that has been built up over thousands of years to be exposed to the air, decompose and turn into carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Both activities run contrary to Indonesia laws and regulations, the report notes.
“We would like the Sinar Mas Group’s buyers and investors who read this report to realize how APP’s media campaigns are exploiting their lack of knowledge or inexperience about Indonesia and how they mislead their customers about the brutal reality on the ground,” said Hariansyah Usman of WALHI Riau.
Report is erroneous: APP
APP however has denied the allegations, claiming that they are false. It also called on WWF International to disassociate itself from the EOF report.
The company has published official government maps of the concession in response to the allegations, and says the pictures featured prominently in the EOF report were actually from RUJ’s legally-operated pulpwood concession outside of the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary.
It has also published pictures of dense, natural forest that it claims to be of the real Senepis Tiger Sanctuary.
APP says the EOF report contained factual errors, such as that Indonesian law prohibits land conversion on peat more than 3 meters deep; that APP has no independent, credible, third-party certification to demonstrate its sustainability; and that APP’s ‘wildlife protection zones’ in Riau and Jambi were less than 50,000 hectares (when they are actually 200,000 hectares, APP claims).
“We now call on WWF, an NGO with a good international reputation, to distance itself from the poorly researched and inaccurate report which does not help anyone who really cares about preserving the natural environment and wildlife of Sumatra,” said APP Managing Director Aida Greenbury.