Paper's toll on Indonesia's rainforests

July 7, 2010 at 2:54 PM
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JAKARTA, July 7 (UPI) -- Greenpeace chastised Indonesian palm oil and paper giant Sinar Mas, as well as its customers, for destroying rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands in the country.

In its report, "How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet," Greenpeace named a number of major international retailers, restaurants and supermarket chains as sourcing products from Asia Pulp and Paper, a subsidiary of Sinar Mas.

Greenpeace urged the companies to discontinue purchasing APP products so their brands wouldn't be associated with forest destruction.

The Greenpeace report cited the Bukit Tigapuluh and Kerumutan rainforest areas as "just two of many important rainforests being decimated by Sinar Mas for pulp and paper and palm oil expansion."

Greenpeace said Kerumutan's carbon-rich peat lands are a key defense against climate change. Some of the forest's peat is deeper than 10 feet, the organization says, making it illegal to clear under Indonesian law.

"Sinar Mas's 'sustainability commitments' are not worth the paper they are written on and some of the world's best known brands are literally pulping the planet by buying from them," Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner Bustar Maitar said in a statement.

Greenpeace has said that forests covering the equivalent of 300 football fields are eradicated every hour in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, 80 percent of which are due to deforestation.

Last September Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government had committed to a voluntary 26 percent reduction in carbon emissions on its own account by 2020, and with foreign assistance, a total reduction of 41 percent.

The president then announced late May a 2-year moratorium on new logging concessions as part of an agreement with Norway in which Indonesia will receive up to $1 billion if it adheres to a letter of intent signed by the two countries.

"President Yudyohono's new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation will be undermined unless he extends the moratorium on new deforestation licenses to cover all forest and peat lands that are currently slated for destruction by Sinar Mas and other companies," Greenpeace stated in a release.

In a statement responding to the Greenpeace report, APP said the company "is absolutely committed to the sustainable development of Indonesia and is dedicated to supporting the Indonesian government and its policies of achieving its environmental and development objectives."

APP's Web site states that the company's combined pulp, paper and packaging capacities in Indonesia amount to more than 7 million tons. It says it uses fiber from plantations and wood residues of plantation development. The company markets its products to more than 65 countries on six continents.

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