Paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) has withdrawn from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and WWF claim is an attempt to dodge an independent inquiry into the paper company’s deforestation practices in Indonesia.
Prior to APRIL’s withdrawal, the three environmental organizations lodged a complaint that the company was in violation of FSC’s Policy for Association through its continued large-scale conversion of natural forests in Indonesia to plantations, including the destruction of high conservation value (HCV) forests. The organizations also claim the company has persistent social conflicts in its operations.
The FSC Policy for Association ensures the FSC only associates with companies committed to fundamental principles of responsible forest management. It requires that a company holding FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certificates not be involved in the conversion of HCV forest and must not have converted an area of forest covering more than 10,000 hectares within the past five years.
“Companies like APRIL that are dependent on rainforest destruction are provoking social conflict through a failure to respect customary rights over land. Such operations are clearly unsustainable,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, spokesperson for RAN. “By walking away from the FSC, APRIL is sending a clear signal to the market that it has no intention of stopping its destructive operations.”
APRIL is now the largest driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia, according to Greenpeace. In 2012 alone, the company’s suppliers planned to clear close to 60,000 hectares of rainforest.
WWF says between 2007 and 2012, APRIL and its suppliers in Riau converted close to 200,000 hectares of Sumatra’s rainforests to plantations that served as vital habitat for endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers.
As first steps, Greenpeace, RAN and WWF are calling on APRIL to immediately stop all natural forest clearance in all of its own and suppliers’ concessions and commit to a comprehensive zero-deforestation policy. The organizations also are petitioning the FSC to ensure that any firm associated with deforestation, including companies related to the Royal Golden Eagle group (of which APRIL is part), are not allowed to hold FSC certificates.
Another Asia-based paper company, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), earlier this year ended natural forest clearance in its supply chain after succumbing to pressure from nearly 100 of its customers. The paper company recently released the latest update in its "Vision 2020" plan that provides further insight into its new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). The new policy stipulates that natural forest will be identified through HCV and High Carbon Stock (HCS) assessments currently underway across all APP land concessions in Indonesia.