Pages tagged "deforestation"

Gaps in Indonesia’s Forest Legality Verification System Put Forest Products’ Customers at Material Risk

A new briefing for international buyers and customs authorities finds legality system does not provide adequate assurance that Indonesian or international human rights laws are being met -- Additional due diligence is needed.


CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989,

San Francisco, CA -- Indonesia’s wood products audit and certification system remains inadequate in assuring legality, a new briefing finds. The briefing provides detailed recommendations about how the system can be improved to address these shortcomings.

Buyers wishing to avoid products that violate community legal rights, as well as authorities charged with enforcing import legality legislation, should refrain from relying solely on the verification system for assurance that products certified by the system comply with Indonesian law.

Known as the Indonesian Timber Legality Verification System, or Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), the certification system was put into place to regulate Indonesia’s forestry sector. However, the briefing finds that rigorous, enhanced due diligence into the sourcing of forest products is still needed, even when those products bear a SVLK “legality” or “sustainability” certificate, before buyers can be confident that Indonesian forestry companies are upholding communities’ legal rights.

The report finds that  loopholes in the SVLK auditing standards and weaknesses in its application result in a failure to provide adequate safeguards against endemic corruption and violations of community rights. In one example, the SVLK standard so undervalues community rights that companies may be certified as “sustainable” even when an audit finds a company in violation of all of their legal obligations to local communities. Further, SVLK audits rely heavily on “desk study” of documents without any requirement for unannounced field evaluations to assess implementation. In this way, the report finds, companies are attaining legal and “sustainable” certifications even while violating human rights.

“Certifying forest products as legal, even while they are associated with significant violations of communities’ legal rights, contributes to the continued abuses of communities and misleads buyers about risks associated with forest products,” said Rainforest Action Network’s Lafcadio Cortesi. “Perversely, this false veneer of legality and sustainability may increase the market share of these forest product companies. What’s needed is for buyers to conduct enhanced due diligence and engage their suppliers, as well as the government of Indonesia, to improve practices, the SVLK standard and its application, so that communities’ legal rights are respected and enforced.”

The briefing recommends that forest product buyers and investors make it known to producer companies, home governments and the Indonesian government that communities’ legal and human rights are an important part of the legality of the supply chain and that the SVLK should be strengthened in order to provide better assurance that community rights are respected. Further, it calls on buyers to engage the EU government to refrain from offering a “green lane” to shipments with SVLK certificates until the weaknesses described in the briefing are addressed. The report also recommends that buyers and investors engage the Japanese government to further clarify and enforce Green Purchasing laws and to not accept SVLK as adequate assurance of legality until the weaknesses in the SVLK have been addressed.

For more information, the full briefing titled False Assurances: A Briefing for International Buyers and Customs Authorities On How Indonesia’s Timber Legality Verification System Fails to Protect Community Rights can be found, here.




Mongabay: Forestry giant's zero deforestation commitment put to test

"An independent audit of the world’s largest pulp and paper producer found that the company had achieved a wide range of results in meeting promises to end deforestation and resolve conflicts with forest communities. 

In 2013 Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) announced its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), which included a pledge to end deforestation among its suppliers, improve communication and conflict resolution with forest communities, protecting peatlands, and sourcing fiber only from responsible suppliers."


Rainforest Action Network Responds to Rainforest Alliance Evaluation of Asia Pulp and Paper’s Progress With Its Forest Conservation Policy Commitments

Third party evaluation finds little evidence of changes on the ground and APP’s “Action Plan” must be implemented, improved, verified and include stakeholder input prior to customers engaging in business with the company



CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989,


San Francisco, CA -- On the 2nd anniversary of Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) Forest Conservation Policy commitments (FCP), an evaluation of APP’s progress by the Rainforest Alliance (RA) suggests that the company has put “the building blocks in place but considerable additional work is required to fully implement the FCP commitment.” This finding corresponds to the finding from a report by a coalition of Indonesian and international NGOs published in January that said “Although the company has put a host of building blocks in place to implement its commitments, in most cases, changes have yet to reach the ground... where many practices remain the same as prior to APP’s announcement of its FCP.”

Responding to the release of the Rainforest Alliance evaluation and APP’s Action Plan, Rainforest Action Network’s Lafcadio Cortesi issued the following statement.

“Despite APP’s response to the Rainforest Alliance evaluation in the form of an ‘Action Plan,’ RAN’s conclusion is that it’s still too soon to resume business with APP. APP needs to implement its FCP policy, the new Action Plan and address the findings and gaps found in the evaluation and joint NGO report in a way that demonstrates satisfactory and verifiable positive progress on the ground. 

“For example, Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation finds that there are hundreds of land and social conflicts remaining in APP’s land bank and that resolution agreements have only been reached with one community. Further, the Rainforest Alliance evaluation finds that it is too early to evaluate if APP’s Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans (ISFMPs) will deliver measurable landscape level conservation because none of these plans have been developed or implemented yet. Without these plans - which are the linchpin in APP’s conservation strategy - and without scaling up conflict resolution efforts and effectively involving communities and other key stakeholders in developing conflict resolution action plans and agreements, significant risk remains that APP’s commitments may not be met and have positive impact on the ground. 

“Another troubling and unexpected finding of the RA assessment is that there was widespread and ongoing clearance of remaining natural forests - including High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas - by third parties in ‘every APP supplier concession visited by the Rainforest Alliance.’ Further, ‘Based on field evaluation and interviews, recommendations from the HCV assessments have not been implemented, and HCS area recommendations are not yet in place at the field level. The ISFMPs, which are the delivery mechanism for these recommendations are at a very early stage.’  

“APP needs to stop nickel and diming local communities and the environment. To scale up conflict resolution and prevent further deforestation by third parties taking place in the remaining natural forests in their concessions, the company will need to address land and income equity issues. APP must give back more of the land it is currently using for pulpwood plantations so that some of the main drivers of the deforestation and conflict -- namely, lack of land to meet community livelihood needs and failure to address land claims -- can be addressed.

“Although APP’s current Action Plan represents a start in addressing core issues and gaps, the Action Plan still lacks specificity and, as with action plans relating to conflict resolution and deforestation by third parties, it fails to involve or incorporate input from affected communities and other key stakeholders.

“There’s still a long way to go before we see satisfactory change on the ground for communities and forests affected by APP’s 30-year legacy of adverse social and environmental practices. To say that there has been ‘moderate progress,’ as Rainforest Alliance has stated in several sections of the evaluation, is to ignore the fact that hundreds of land and social conflicts, as well as significant loss of natural forests, continue in APP’s land bank. It’s simply too soon to tell the extent to which APP will follow through on its social responsibility commitments. And, because the company’s implementation has significant gaps, lacks transparency and is still at an early stage, there is a clear need for continued and ongoing independent monitoring and verification of the company’s performance.

“RAN believes that if investors and customers demand verified performance and results on the ground before resuming business with APP, it will provide powerful motivation for APP to improve and implement its Action Plan and Forest Conservation Policy.”  



Vice: Rogue Palm Oil Companies Continue to Destroy Indonesia's Forests

"Widespread corruption and the absence of adequate law enforcement continue to enable deforestation in Indonesia, despite recent pledges from the world's largest agricultural corporations to halt forest clearing and a national moratorium on the issuance of new logging permits, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)."


Publisher's Weekly: Asia Pulp and Paper Tries to Recast Its Image

'The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has been one of APP’s most vocal critics. Lafcadio Cortesi, of RAN, said that though APP has made important improvements in its environmental and social commitments, “It still has a long way to go.” He noted that APP has stopped clearing and using natural rain forests for pulp and paper, even putting additional staff and systems in place to implement reforms, but it has yet to address ongoing land conflicts and the harmful legacy of past operations. “The willingness to undertake reform that senior management has displayed has, in many cases, yet to be reflected in the field,” Cortesi said. “Given APP’s history of broken commitments and the enormity of the challenges that still remain, the company must verify that substantial changes have indeed taken place on the ground in order to avoid its products being considered controversial and high risk in the marketplace.”'


The Huffington Post: Efforts to End Deforestation Brings Together Strange Bedfellows

"In 2007, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) launched a campaign to persuade Cargill -- the largest exporter of palm oil into the US, and one of a handful of traders that dominate the industry -- to stop buying oil grown on newly cut forests and peatlands. When Cargill refused to budge, RAN changed its strategy and began targeting the company's clients, the so-called "snack food 20," which includes corporations like Hershey's, General Mills, and Kraft.

This new tactic paid off. Some of the high profile brands began demanding that their suppliers get serious about deforestation. And in September, Cargill announced a sweeping no-deforestation policy and endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, joining other major palm oil traders including the Singapore-based Wilmar and the Indonesian company Golden Agri-Resources. The two leading pulp and paper companies in Indonesia, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited and Asian Pulp and Paper, have followed suit with their own commitments."


Mongabay: Only place where rhinos, tigers, elephants, and organgutans coexist is under threat

"A forest that is the only place where rhinos, tigers, elephants, and orangutans coexist is under threat from planned infrastructure, mining, logging, and plantation projects, warns a new report from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)."


Epoch Times: Forest Wildlife Coexistence Threatened

"A forest that is the only place where rhinos, tigers, elephants, and orangutans coexist is under threat from planned infrastructure, mining, logging, and plantation projects, warns a new report from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)."


Alternet: Fabulously Dressed San Francisco Activists Confront Big Fashion Over Its Role in Deforestation

"Earlier Thursday morning, activists staged a protest in downtown San Francisco to call attention to forest destruction for fabric. Activists are visiting Fashion 15 companies throughout the city, demanding that companies get forest destruction out of their fabric."


One Green Planet: What’s the Deal With Dissolvable Paper Pulp and Why is it in Your Clothing?

"Chances are when you pick up a shirt in a department store, the first thought you have isn’t: “Did this shirt contribute to deforestation?” You might be conscious of the material and prefer to buy organic cotton textiles … but, we’re guessing you never knew that some of the items hanging in your closet were made from trees. Or that the process used to turn those trees into textiles is responsible for the loss of 70 million trees every year and spews noxious chemicals like sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. You might start to think differently about your favorite top!"



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