WWF urges buyers to await confirmation of claims

EoF News / 08 February 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) -- World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) hailed Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announcement to stop clearing Indonesia's tropical forest and peatlands, but urged paper buyers to "wait for confirmation of the claims through independent monitoring by civil society before doing business with APP."

Following the announcement made by APP in Jakarta this week to stop clearing natural forest in the country, WWF said it welcomed it but hoped the company would do what it promised.

While, separately, Jikalahari, NGO network in Riau to rescue natural forest, responded the APP's commitment by calling on public not to give a blank cheque to APP's announcement to protect natural forest and peatlands before proving it on the ground.

Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of Jikalahari, told Eyes on the Forest today that APP should also support law enforcers to reopen environmental destruction cases that probed by the police in 2007-2008 which closed late in 2008. The cases involved 14 pulp and paper suppliers, where a half of them are APP and Sinar Mas Group affiliates.

"In addition to this, I hope APP also support KPK [corruption eradication commission] to probe involvement of its affiliated companies and management in Riau forestry corruption cases which jailed five provincial officials," Muslim said.

Herewith WWF press release issued on 5 February, some hours after the APP announcement:

"WWF welcomed the announcement by the Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) stopped clearing Indonesia’s tropical forests and peatlands to allow an assessment of their conservation and carbon values. But the conservation organization urged paper buyers to wait for confirmation of the claims through independent monitoring by civil society before doing business with APP. 

“APP today committed to most of WWF’s calls. If the company follows through on this, it could be great news for Indonesia’s forests, biodiversity and citizens,” said Nazir Foead, Conservation Director of WWF-Indonesia. “Unfortunately, APP has a long history of making commitments to WWF, customers and other stakeholders that it has failed to live up to. We hope this time the company does what it promised.

WWF plans to independently monitor APP’s wood sourcing and forestry activities for compliance with its commitments and regularly update stakeholders on the findings.

”APP runs two of the world’s largest pulp mills on Sumatra, where it produces the pulp for the toilet paper, tissue, copy paper and packaging that it sells worldwide. The company and its wood suppliers are responsible for clearing more than 2 million hectares of rain forest on the island since beginning operations in 1984, an analysis by the NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest found.

“WWF hopes that APP’s new commitments will do more than just stop its own bulldozers, including protecting the natural forests in its concessions from all illegal activities and mitigating the long-term negative impacts its practices have had on all the peat lands, forests, biodiversity and local people in Sumatra and Borneo for which these commitments have come too late,” Foead added.

“WWF has long called on responsible businesses to avoid sourcing from APP and until there is truly independent confirmation that APP has stopped draining peat soils and pulping tropical forests with high conservation value, we continue to urge paper buyers to adopt a wait for proof stance,” said Aditya Bayunanda, GFTN and pulp & paper manager of WWF Indonesia.

Mr Teguh Widjaya, the patriarch of the family’s pulp and paper business, oversaw the announcement today that no member of his APP group operating in Indonesia or China will accept any tropical timber felled in Indonesia after 31 January 2013 until company consultants have completed a full “high conservation value” and a “high carbon stock” assessment of their forest concessions. However, the company inserted a loophole in the commitment saying that for an indefinite period of time APP mills would accept trees felled before 31 January.

As a sign of good faith and the first demonstrable milestone, WWF calls on APP to have moved the supply of already-cut tropical timber its suppliers cleared before the self-imposed 31 January 2013 moratorium by 5 May 2013, the due date of its next quarterly forest policy report.A fully implemented moratorium on pulping forests with high conservation and high carbon value would have a profound impact on Indonesia’s biodiversity, as well as on Indonesia’s carbon emissions. WWF urges all of the country’s pulp producers to stop using tropical forests."

WWF contact persons:

Aditya Bayunanda, abayunanda@wwf.or.id, +62-818-265-588

Desma Murni, DMurni@wwf.or.id, +62-811-793-458

Phil Dickie, pdickie@wwfint.org, +41-79-703-1952