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Asia Pulp & Paper finally give in to Greenpeace Pressure

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has finally, after a decade of pressure, agreed on a new Forest Conservation Policy in order to end its part in deforestation. Greenpeace has spent many years persuading APP to monitor any further forest clearance and introduce a range of measures to stop its role in deforestation. And on February 5th in a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, it was announced that they would be doing just that.

Image courtesy of Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Greenpeace is thrilled at the step that they have managed to make APP take, as the benefit it will bring to Indonesia’s forests and wildlife is enormous. Through methods such as convincing dozens of well known brands worldwide to suspend their contracts with APP, Greenpeace forced APP to realise that in order to carry on their business, they first needed to change their methods. Acknowledging that the way that they have been sourcing their raw materials, it will raise important questions about other large pulping companies’ methods that will have to be answered. Forcing APP to re-evaluate their role in deforestation was a huge leap in the battle to slow the rate at which the world’s forests are being logged.

Image courtesy of Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Bustar Maitar, Head of Greenpeace's Forest Campaign in Indonesia, said of the campaign: ‘I’ve personally invested, along with many of my colleagues, endless hours into our campaign to persuade APP to make this step. After a great deal of blood, toil, sweat and tears, today the company did just that – announcing an immediate moratorium on further forest clearance and a range of measures to stop its role in deforestation.’

Image courtesy of Ardiles Rante / Greenpeace

But this change will not happen overnight, APP has relied on heavy logging without much thought for the consequences for a long time now, and so Greenpeace say they will be watching very closely to make sure that APP follow through on their proposals. It is clear that APP have felt the commercial pressures and reputational impact of losing major customers around the world, but they need to make sure that the work in the forests and on the ground is carried out, if anything to mend their damaged reputation. Although we have to remember that the main point of this announcement is to reduce deforestation, not to help protect APP’s name.

Image courtesy of WWF / Greenpeace

Indonesia’s rainforests, the target of much of APP’s previous reckless logging, are a vital habitat for many endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and Orang-utan, and acts as a home to many forest communities. Within the forests live over 1,500 species of birds and thousands of plant species that all make up part of a rich area of biodiversity. Indonesia is home to between 10 and 15 per cent of all known species of mammals, birds and plants. With the rapid deforestation that came with the work of the pulp and paper sector and palm oil sector, this important area of biodiversity that was in danger of being destroyed, is now hopefully going to be saved.

Image courtesy of Oka Budhi / Greenpeace

APP’s new commitment comes at a very important time for Indonesia’s rainforests, as the two year monatarium on deforestation that was decreed by President Yudhoyono in 2011 ends in May 2013, and there are urges for the government to use the momentum created by APP’s decision to extend the monatarium. There is hope that this momentous action that Greenpeace’s campaign made in APP’s commitment to end deforestation, will lead to other global companies reassessing their own methods and that gradually, not only Indonesia but the world will face less deforestation.

By Ellie Cambridge

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