Forest activists express cautious optimism, but say results on the ground will be the true measure of the new policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org
San Francisco, CA - After years of pressure from environmental and human rights organizations, one of the largest and most controversial companies driving deforestation in Indonesia appears on the verge of dramatically changing course. The Rainforest Action Network welcomes reforms from Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) to transform its business model by eliminating deforestation, expansion into peatlands and human rights violations from its operations and supply chains, as well as action to address and remedy its legacy of adverse social and environmental impacts.
Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) has a long and well-documented history of displacing local communities from their lands and failing to respect community rights to free, prior and informed consent. The company has clear-cut and pulped vast areas of Indonesia’s biologically diverse natural rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands, converting these areas into industrial pulp-wood plantations.
In January 2014, APRIL published a Sustainable Forest Management Policy that committed it to stop pulping rainforests by 2020. This received broad criticism as a ‘too little too late’ half-measure by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and others. Since then APRIL and its suppliers are reported to have maintained a rate of thousands of acres of rainforest clear-cut every month, as well as failing to resolve numerous land conflicts with local communities.
RAN launched its first campaign targeting Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper companies - APRIL and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) - in 2009. Working with local and international civil society allies, this work led to contract cancellations by major corporate paper customers and resulted in a successful petition to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to disassociate the certification body from APRIL. RAN has worked closely with leading paper buyers in the publishing, office supply and luxury sectors in the US, Japan and Europe to establish purchasing guidelines that prevent paper linked to deforestation, peatland loss, land conflict and human rights violations from entering their supply chains.
Following escalating pressure from the company’s customers, bankers and others, APRIL has been reaching out to RAN and others over the past three months to consult about revisions to its policy and establishing an immediate moratorium on further clearance of rainforests.
In response to APRIL’s June 3, 2015 announcement of its revised Sustainable Forest Management Policy and moratorium on further cutting of natural forests, Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia Director with Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement:
“APRIL is one of the few remaining major companies to pulp natural rainforests to make paper. Today's announcement of a moratorium on further clearance and improvements to its policy is a welcome step forward. However, the policy commitment must be supported by a transparent, time bound implementation road map, decisive actions and independent monitoring and verification of outcomes on the ground. This would mark a significant contribution to the conservation of Indonesia’s rainforests and respect for local communities and their rights. RAN urges customers and investors to assess their business relationships with APRIL based on demonstrated and independently verified outcomes on the ground and to avoid business with APRIL and affiliates unless policies on paper are translated into action and improved results for communities and forests on the ground.
“In moving forward, APRIL must also address its legacy of land conflict, deforestation of critical species habitat and peatland conversion. We will be watching APRIL to see whether the company can transform its corporate culture and demonstrate transparency including independent monitoring and verification of its performance on key issues. In its operations and before any expansion, APRIL must go beyond paper promises to proven outcomes, demonstrating to its customers, investors and to the communities and landscapes that have been harmed by its operations that it is accountable for and will remedy past and prevent future adverse impacts.”