NGOs hail FSC banning on APRIL, urge certifiers to follow

EoF News / 20 August 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) - As APRIL has been officially banned from using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) trademark, leading environmental groups WWF, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) have called on other forest industry certification schemes to cut ties with the giant deforester.

FSC’s decision is a response on the above NGOs’ initial complaint toward the giant pulp’s continued deforestation, that on August 7th 2013 FSC officially banned APRIL from using FSC trademark to market its pulp and paper products. The complaint alleged that APRIL’s continuing large scale deforestation, social conflict and human rights violations were contrary to FSC certification rules.

The three NGOs have now called on forest industry-based certifier PEFC (Programs for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) to recognize that APRIL’s large scale programs to replace natural forest with plantations in Sumatra and elsewhere are grounds to end its relationships with APRIL and its associated companies.

“The FSC has acted rapidly to disassociate its brand from the activities of APRIL and its affiliated companies”, said Aditya Bayunanda from WWF Indonesia.

However, APRIL still holds chain-of-custody certificates granted through the industry-led PEFC forest certification scheme.

“If the PEFC standards are as rigorous in safeguarding natural forest, the organisation would follow the lead of the FSC and distance itself from all RGE group companies.” Bayunanda added.

Bustar Maitar from Greenpeace also commented that along the way APRIL has kept moving on the contrary line from what other global companies are doing, in which they start to make efforts to avoid deforestation, while APRIL keeps deforestation going. He estimated that APRIL’s deforestation has cleared 60,000 hectares of Sumatra and Kalimantan rainforest, Mongabay online reported.

Chris Tennery from RAN added that FSC’s decision have proved how risky business cooperation with APRIL is for its buyers and investors.

From Sumatra, Riko Kurniawan of WALHI (Friends of Earth Indonesia) chapter Riau, told EoF News that the disassociation by FSC was a proof of ugly business performed by APRIL that should be finished for good and replaced by responsible and sustainable business operation.

"As FSC certification is an essential requirement which APRIL has failed fulfilling, then company's other certificates should have a re-verification," Riko said.

He also suggested the company to voluntarily take all its products off the market as it has been proven that the company no longer deserved a place in the market due to its violation and massive deforestation.

In a joint statement released in May 2013, WWF, Greenpeace and RAN called on APRIL and the RGE group to immediately stop all natural forest clearance in its own and suppliers’ concessions and commit to implement a zero deforestation policy, as a first step to cleaning up its practices. NGOs group such as Eyes on the Forest are also continuing to monitor the implementation of a zero deforestation policy by APRIL’s leading competitor, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP).