Behavior Change
Paper Supplier Suspends Forest Clearance After Losing Disney, Levi’s

In response to its recent abandonment by nearly 100 international corporate customers, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has announced an immediate end to the clearing of natural forest across its entire supply chain in Indonesia.

Disney, Levi’s and Mattel were among some of the major brands to jump ship after years of criticism over the paper company’s role in harming Indonesia’s endangered rainforests and communities.

APP is the largest paper company in Indonesia and one of the largest in the world.

Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world but suffers from high rates of deforestation due to logging for pulp and land clearing for palm oil plantations. The archipelago is now listed as the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, after the US and China, and an estimated 80 percent of its emissions can be traced to widespread deforestation.

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Starting February 1, APP suspended forest clearance with its suppliers while an independent assessment takes place to identify areas of high conservation value to be protected through a long-term management program. APP said High Carbon Stock assessments undertaken by The Forest Trust will identify all forested areas, enabling the company to ensure future plantation development does not take place in forests.

The announcement came during the latest quarterly update of the APP’s Vision 2020 Sustainability Roadmap, first published in June 2012. The plan originally sought to implement “High Conservation Value Forest” principles to end forest clearance across the APP supply chain by 2015.

“This is a major commitment and investment from APP Group,” said Teguh Ganda Wijaya, Chairman of the APP Group. “We are doing this for the sustainability of our business and for the benefit of the society. We hope our stakeholders will support our new Policy, help us along the way and urge other industry players to follow.”

But environmentalists remain skeptical that APP’s words will translate into long-term action.

“Though we welcome APP's new rainforest commitments as a milestone, the hidden story here is the controversial paper giant’s long history of broken promises, land conflicts and human rights violations across its operations,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia Director for Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

RAN has campaigned since 2009 to pressure APP to reform its practices, including working with ten major U.S. publishing companies to cancel contracts with the paper company until it enacts significant reform. The non-profit says in Sumatra, APP has already deforested an area of rainforest the size of Massachusetts.

A growing number of brands, investors and stakeholders are beginning to recognize the importance of preserving forests to avert climate change and rejuvenate local communities.

“APP will not be seen as a responsible company in the marketplace until its new commitments are implemented and resolve the devastating rainforest and human rights crises it has caused in Indonesia,” Cortesi added.

Last week the Carbon Disclosure Project, which recently merged with the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project, announced investors representing a third of the world’s invested capital are calling for more than 5,000 public companies to disclose their carbon emissions and climate change strategies.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant. @mikehower contributed.

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