Pages tagged "rainforest"


Toba Pulp Lestari: In depth on one of the worst actors in pulp and paper

 

TobaPulp.pngIndonesian pulp and paper giant Toba Pulp Lestari has been operating recklessly in North Sumatra for years. The company's mill has been poisoning communities and disrupting life and livelihoods for the local people who call this area home. The mill, and it’s operators, are responsible for horrific land conflicts between the company and villagers who hold traditional land rights to the company’s concessions.

These communities, whose land is protected by customary rights under Indonesian law, rely on these forests for their life and livelihoods. As reported by RAN’s on-the-ground partner, Kelompok Studi dan Pengembangan Prakarsa Masyarakat, well over 17,000 hectares of natural forest have been destroyed, impacting or displacing over 13,000 Indigenous people.

These communities are fighting back, and at least 59 activists have been arrested for resisting Toba Pulp Lestari’s continued expansion and destruction. In the past few years, land conflict has only escalated between villagers and Toba Pulp Lestari employees over the forest area. Meetings with government representatives and Toba Pulp Lestari management have brought no results, and local villagers have resorted to protests and blockades of company operations in order to protect the forests.

The behavior of Toba Pulp Lestari employees shows clear disregard for the livelihoods of local people. In February 2013, local farmers from Pandumaan and Sipituhuta Villages caught Toba Pulp Lestari employees entering their forest areas and cutting down frankincense trees. Instead of apprehending those causing the destruction, resulting clashes between farmers and the employees led to the arrests of 31 farmers.

The harvest of frankincense is essential to the local economy. These communities, who have farmed this land for generations, extract the frankincense without destroying the trees in order to maintain the health of the forest and keep this vital source of income intact for future generations. When the forests are wiped out for pulp plantations, Toba Pulp Lestari destroys not only the livelihoods of the community, their childrens’ livelihoods, and the ecosystem, but it destroys their culture as well.

Local communities have opposed the mill since it began operations in North Sumatra in 1989 due to the rainforest destruction, land grabbing and toxics pollution central to the company’s business model. In 1990, 10 elderly women from Sugapa Village were arrested for pulling up and destroying eucalyptus plantings on their traditional land. Protests by the local community escalated in 1998 and temporarily shut down the mill. But in recent years, the company has changed its name from PT Inti Indorayon Utama to PT Toba Pulp Lestari and reopened the mill; it is now in the process of expanding its destructive operations further into pristine rainforest. Along with name changes, the company has changed affiliations multiple times in order to hide its destruction. The company was formerly affiliated with pulp and paper giant, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) and its parent Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), and is still controlled by notorious Indonesian business tycoon Sukanto Tanoto through holding companies.  

This may seem like a conflict far away from those of us in the Americas, Europe, or Australia, but it’s closer than one would think. A wide variety of consumer products contain pulp from rainforests like those in North Sumatra, including paper, food, cosmetics, household goods—even clothing. This pulp, and the conflict that produced it, is sold on store shelves in your neighborhood - unmarked and unidentifiable.

Unless Toba Pulp Lestari respects the rights of the Indigenous people, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), conflicts will only continue. And while Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has acknowledged the customary forest rights of the communities, Toba Pulp Lestari’s concessions and operations continue to undermine the ability of local people to access and manage their own forests.

We plan to keep you up to date on this conflict and bring more information continue to explore and expose the pulp supply chains threatening global rainforests.... stay tuned.


"Without clean water, we cannot survive."

RAN is proud to be an original supporter of ClearWater, which has launched an incredible new website today. Here are a few words from our friends at Amazon Watch about the important work ClearWater is doing and how you can get involved. "Without clean water, we cannot survive," Emergildo Criollo told me recently. You may have heard of Emergildo. An indigenous leader of the Cofan Nation in Ecuador's northern Amazon, he has been a relentless advocate for his people, speaking out about oil giant Chevron's toxic legacy in his territory. But today, even as he continues the fight to hold Chevron accountable, Emergildo isn't waiting for a cleanup that seems always on the horizon. Emergildo is taking matters into his own hands, helping to bring clean water to thousands of Indigenous people who have suffered without for decades. Rainforest Action Network is proud to stand with Emergildo, and the other Indigenous leaders who are part of an effort to address that dire need. It's called The ClearWater Project.

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ClearWater began with a big goal: provide safe, sustainable access to clean water for every Indigenous family in the region, whose ancestral waterways have been poisoned by oil production and ensuing industrialization. In just two years, ClearWater has installed more than 500 family-sized rainwater harvesting and filtration systems that serve thousands of people in communities that have long suffered an epidemic of cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses that numerous health studies in the region blame on a lack of access to safe sources of water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. Our efforts have been able to make this impact because, from the beginning, ClearWater has been a collaborative partnership between the five indigenous nationalities here—the Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa, and Waorani—and international supporters, such as water engineers, humanitarians, activists, and philanthropists. ClearWater believes in collaborative, integrative, community-led solutions, where someone like Emergildo is coordinating amongst the different Indigenous nationalities to install new water systems, local youth are using GPS to map their biological and cultural resources, and frontline leaders are learning new media techniques to broadcast their concerns to the world. Clean water, health, and dignity. From this foundation, Emergildo and the Indigenous people of Ecuador's northern Amazon are building a movement for rainforest protection and cultural survival. I’m proud that Rainforest Action Network is a founding partner in this project, and I hope you’ll join us, too. Explore ClearWater's impact by navigating around this cutting-edge interactive map designed by another Amazon Watch family member, Gregor MacLennan, now Digital Democracy's Program Director. Learn more about ClearWater on our website or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
han-headshot   Han Shan is an Amazon Watch Advisory Board Member.

#RANFastFacts: Orangutan Umbrellas

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Pulp and Paper Giant APRIL Rebuked, Put On Notice

 interiorThe World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a group of 200 international corporations who claim commitments to sustainability, has put APRIL, Indonesia’s second largest and now most destructive pulp and paper company, on notice. APRIL has been placed on probation and the WBCSD will revoke its membership unless it can prove that it has ended its long-standing practices of rainforest destruction. The WBCSD, which counts PepsiCo and Monsanto as members, isn’t your usual advocacy group. It’s essentially a club of large multi-national corporations. To have them find that one of their own is so bad they are expelled sends the unequivocal message that APRIL is a rouge company. It’s also a clear signal to businesses that buy pulp and paper or finance the company that they should sever ties with APRIL as well as the web of companies controlled by Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL’s notorious owner. However, it is unclear whether this condemnation will be sufficient to push an end to the egregious practices of APRIL and its sister companies. RAN worked with WWF and Greenpeace last year to convince the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to disassociate itself from APRIL due to its destructive social and environmental practices. Unfortunately, the FSC action failed to achieve any major changes from APRIL, which is still logging and converting to monoculture plantations an estimated 12,000 acres of rainforest a month, often on land stolen from local communities. APRIL has 12 months to comply with the WBCSD Roadmap, which outlines proposed steps to end forest conversion and to conserve natural forests. If APRIL and its sister companies follow the principles of the Roadmap that the WBCSD has laid out – which include an immediate cessation of logging of rainforests – it will be a good start. But the WBCSD provisions do not go nearly far enough to ensure responsible forestry practices by APRIL. The scope must apply to APRIL and its sister companies and their supply chain partners. Suppliers and their performance must be independently verified. These companies must address the myriad of social issues, land conflicts, and human rights violations that they and their suppliers are responsible for. They must end any further incursions on carbon-rich peatlands. And they must address the legacy of negative environmental and social impacts, properly resolve land and social conflicts, and restore key ecological and hydrological areas that have been destroyed. APRIL has a long history of broken promises, forest destruction, and human rights abuses. Clearing intact rainforests to feed its pulp mills appears to be its key business model, with 60% of its fiber supply coming directly from the rainforest. This is a clear signal from the business community that APRIL’s current practices cannot continue. This must stop now. Twelve months is too long. For years, APRIL has offered only broken promises. Until APRIL can come into compliance with responsible forest practices, even beyond what is outlined in the WBCSD’s Roadmap, companies must cancel their contracts with this notorious forest destroyer. To read the full text of the WBCSD complaint, click here.

Shut It, You Long-Haired Hippie

An "anti-public service" message from Donny Rico (originally published by Amazon Watch) Donny Rico here to deliver a message to all you long-haired hippie activist types complaining about the environment and human rights. Be warned: things have changed in America and you need to keep your mouths shut. Corporations are the top of the food chain and you need to keep your place or you'll be what's for dinner. Got it? See, me and Chevron are paving the way for corporate freedom in America. Freedom from accountability, freedom from watchdog punks and freedom from caring about how our actions affect the rest of yous. When those pesky Ecuadorians spouted off about the fact that Chevron did a piece of work and chose to dump billions of gallons of toxic waste in their rainforest, we decided to turn the tables and it worked like a real charm. Chevron's tired of being the victim just because over a thousand people died of cancer in Ecuador and we wrecked the Amazon rainforest.

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Now, I hear some of you babbos got it in your heads to call on the U.S. Senate to investigate or some such garbage and try to put a stop to this. That ain't gonna work. But go ahead and try and see what Chevron has to say about you and your 36 environmental, human rights and corporate accountability groups getting involved. You're just asking for us to label you as "co-conspirators" and sue your asses under RICO, too! See, RICO ain't just some law to go after the mob, it's the wave of the future. Thanks to RICO, anyone, and I DO MEAN ANYONE who speaks up about Chevron's... ahhh... problems in Ecuador is a "co-conspirator" in the RICO world. That means we can drag yous all to court, subpoena all your emails and documents, and force you to shell out boatloads of cash to lawyers just to defend yourselves. And your reputation? Fuggetaboutit! See we got enough cash to crush your reputations. We'll just call all your friends and tell ‘em you're extortionists. You guys already gotta ask people for money just to stay afloat, so who's gonna give it to ya if we make you look like crooks? So be smart. Keep quiet and let Chevron do its thing. Oh, and that goes for all of yous activist types and do-good lawyers. If you think big energy companies are gonna let you organize people who got a beef with fracking and new pipelines – think again. We got enough legal muscle and friendly judges out there to go after anyone who does anything to threaten our bottom line. So if you go tellin' people not to buy our products and instead get some organic-vegan-cotton throw pillow or some such tree-hugging junk, well then you're conspiring to cost us money. And THAT is a RICO crime, got it? If you still don't get the message, watch my little video and you'll learn real fast. See, this ain't gonna end with Chevron. Once we get away with charging our own victims in Ecuador as crooks, there's no limit to who we can go after. Freedom of speech don't mean you can say things we don't like – you've been warned. Donny Rico, out!

An Urgent Request from Indonesian Conservationists

The following post is a guest blog from Indonesian conservationist and RAN ally Tezar Pahlevie. Please watch the brief following video of Tezar speaking to RAN staff from his home province of Aceh in Sumatra, Indonesia from November 2013.

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Please take action now to protect the extraordinary Leuser Ecosystem forever! You can read more from Tezar below: Hello, RAG_Tezar_Cropped_500My name is Tezar Pahlevie. This year I was honored by winning the 2013 GRASP Conservation award for my team’s work restoring rainforests damaged by illegal palm oil plantations, but now, a dangerous push from palm oil companies could see all our hard work undone. I write from my home in Aceh, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, because the people and the place I love most are in danger and I urgently need support from people around the world to save them. Please join me in asking the governor of Aceh to protect the world class Leuser Ecosystem by nominating it as a new UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a really scary time for me, because the governor of Aceh has on his desk a disastrous plan that would remove crucial protections from the Leuser Ecosystem, opening up huge areas of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests to major industrial development. This new plan could be signed by the governor at any time. The six million acre Leuser Ecosystem is home to the densest population of orangutans remaining anywhere and it is the only place where orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and sun bears live in the same forest together.Nearly four million people depend on the rainforests of the Leuser Ecosytem to provide them with clean water for drinking, irrigation and food production. I am really sad and frustrated because every day and every month I see the destruction of the forests around my home. We in Aceh have experienced the dangerous floods that come after the logging and destroy people’s homes, livelihoods and in some cases, takes the lives of our friends or family. Witnessing all this destruction breaks my heart. We have a different vision for Aceh. We must protect the Leuser Ecosystem and the people who rely on it. The Aceh people have long fought to protect these forests because they provide us with clean water, food and are important for the next generation. It is urgent that the governor of Aceh hears from you now. Just recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) identified the Leuser Ecosystem as one of the world’s foremost “irreplaceable areas” that must be protected to preserve biodiversity. I stand with scientists from across the world who are right now calling on the governor of Aceh to protect our forests by nominating the region to become a new UNESCO World Heritage site. It gives me hope that by people across the world calling on the governor, he will listen to the people instead of the companies that want to destroy our forests, and work to find a balance that will protect the forests and the livelihoods of Aceh’s people. Please take action today to automatically send a fax to Governor Dr. Zaini Abdullah asking him to listen to the traditional wisdom of Aceh’s people by supporting the nomination of the Leuser Ecosystem as a new UNESCO World Heritage site. Semangat - keep the spirit, Tezar Pahlevie Conservationist and 2013 GRASP Conservation Award Winner RAG_Leuser_PH_500x500

Our Big Finale! (Or is it?)

RAG_CampbellsVisitRawThis is it! We’ve reached the final stop on our “The Power Is In Your Palm” Tour! This morning, I accompanied Strawberry, the orphaned orangutan from Indonesia, on her final two Snack Food 20 visits, to the headquarters of Grupo Bimbo (makers of Sara Lee Bread) in Horsham, PA and Campbell Soup Company in Camden, NJ. Campbell’s is a major U.S based global food company that uses palm oil. Over the past 6 months we have met with Campbell's but the company has not made any commitments to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. Can you help us close the tour with a bang and make sure Campbell’s feel the pressure today? Grupo Bimbo is a major global food company that controls popular brands, including Sara Lee Breads and Bimbo cookies and baked goods, and uses palm oil. Over the past 6 months Grupo Bimbo has failed to respond to our requests for meetings. Last week the company finally agreed to meet with us to discuss the urgent need to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. Will you echo our demands to Campbell’s and Grupo Bimbo right now? Let’s make a call for change so loud the companies can't ignore it! 1. Post this message on Campbell’s Facebook wall: Hey Campbell’s, I won't feed my family products that contain Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm. 2. Post this message on Sara Lee's Facebook wall: Hey Grupo Bimbo, I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands like Sara Lee that use Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm. 3. Tweet at Campbell’s: Hey @CampbellSoupCo, I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm. At the Campbell’s and Grupo Bimbo's headquarters, Strawberry and her friends from the New Jersey Palm Oil Action Team gave representatives of both companies a copy of the RAN report Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations and outlined RAN's demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Thank you for all of your amazing support to pressure the Snack Food 20 to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from our food these past two months. It’s been an incredible, busy campaign push that we never could have accomplished without all of you! But this is just the beginning. We will be in touch soon as the next Palm Oil Action Team adventure unfolds... Jess Serrante

The Power is in Your Palm Tour Visits Heinz with Power Shift 2013!

rag_Heinzvisit_500px The “Power Is In Your Palm” Road Show has brought us to Power Shift in Pittsburgh, PA, where I’ve spent the last several days surrounded by thousands of inspiring youth leaders building a movement to stop the climate crisis. We’re here to talk about the connection between our food choices and climate change, so it couldn’t be more perfect that we’re in the hometown of the H.J. Heinz Company, a key player in the Snack Food 20. We expect better from the Snack Food 20—so today we went directly to Heinz’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. Now it’s your turn to make sure it knows that you’re watching and demanding an end to the use of Conflict Palm Oil in its snack food products. Heinz is a major U.S based global food company that uses palm oil. Over the past 6 months it has failed to reply to our letters and meet with us to sort out its Conflict Palm Oil problem. Here’s the 3 things you can do to show Heinz that we mean business when we call on it to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their products. 1. Call Heinz at (412) 456-5700. Here's a call script you can use: “Hi, my name is [your name] from [your city]. I’m a [student, mom, dad...] and one of your valued customers! It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Heinz must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. I encourage you to secure a new global responsible palm oil procurement policy and implementation plan that ensures that the palm oil in your company’s supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations. Thank You!” 2. Post this message on Heinz's Facebook wall: Hey Heinz, I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm. 3. Tweet at Heinz: Hey @HJHeinzCompany, I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm. At the Heinz HQ, Strawberry, her friends from the Pittsburgh Palm Oil Action Team and a dozen Power Shift youth leaders attempted to give representatives of Heinz a copy of the RAN report Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations and to outline RAN's demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil. However, Heinz representatives did the corporate equivalent of closing their eyes and plugging their ears—refusing to accept the report, hanging up the phone, and calling security. Heinz is one of only 3 Snack Food 20 companies who have refused to meet with us to discuss removing Conflict Palm Oil from their products. Heinz can not ignore the growing movement of people calling for change. We need to raise our voices so they have no choice but to change the way they do business. Can you call Heinz now to add your voice to our demands? Today's visit to Heinz is the latest company stop on The Power Is In Your Palm Tour. In the past month, Strawberry and our team have visited the headquarters of Mondelēz, Kraft Foods, Kellogg's, Smucker’s, Mars, Dunkin Donuts, and Pepsi to deliver the report and a similar set of demands. This has been an incredible month for our campaign to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from our food! The Snack Food 20 are feeling the pressure. Let's keep it up!

10 Photos That Will Make You Never Want To Buy Palm Oil Ever Again

Every day the rainforests that endangered Borneo Orangutans depend on for their survival are destroyed to make way for palm plantations.

Palm oil companies like PT Bumitama Gunajaya Agro (PT BGA), a subsidiary of Bumitama Agri Ltd, send in bulldozers to clear the forest so they can plant palm trees. Sometimes individual orangutans are hurt, captured and sold, or shot and killed. Thankfully, some are found and saved by trained orangutan rescue teams.

This is a photo essay of an orangutan rescue in an area being cleared by PT BGA in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

"We were asked by the local forestry department to assist in the rescue of some orangutans found in a palm plantation area in Ketapang while the land clearing was taking place," says Karmele Llano Sánchez, BVSc, MSc, Executive Director, Yayasan IAR Indonesia. "We deployed our team and found a number of orangutans were stranded, starving and in need of immediate medical attention. This orangutan rescue is an example of the rescues that our teams are frequently doing in areas where palm oil companies are clearing forests to make way for new palm oil plantations "

WARNING: Some of these pictures are fairly graphic and might be hard to look at. The orangutan is stunned though, not dead. Still, these photos tell a story that is at once tragic and uplifting. Rescue IAR_BGA_06Rescue IAR_BGA_05Rescue IAR_BGA_04

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We are witnessing the last stand for the orangutan. Their fate is in the palm of our hands.

Make a stand for the orangutan by joining RAN's Palm Oil Action Team.

August 19th is World Orangutan Day. Show your support for the orangutan rescue teams by attending the World Orangutan Event on Facebook.


The Inside Scoop on Stickering, As Told By A Snacktivist

popcorn stickeredThis post was written for RAN by Megan in Florida, who has been taking action with our Palm Oil Action Team to call out snack food companies using palm oil tied to rainforest destruction in their products. “Caution! This Snack Food May Cause Orangutan Extinction!” flashes boldly from the snack food products being sold at a San Diego grocery store. Our team of six stuck stickers on snack food products this week to raise awareness about the link between palm oil found in snack food products and rainforest destruction and human rights violations. Along with many palm oil activists across the country, we’re sending a message to US snack food companies to break the link between their snack food products and rainforest destruction and human rights violations. We split into teams of two and “stuck it” to snack food products at a number of big box grocery stores. None of us had been stickering before, but within no time each team developed their own technique so we looked just like regular shoppers. Everyone moved through the aisles with subtlety except for Josh, who chose to put  stickers on all 10 fingers and slap the stickers on the front of packages as he walked up and down the aisles. I decided that I wanted to put my stickers over the ingredients list to drill home the message that these products contain palm oil and palm oil is destroying the forests that are the last remaining habitat for orangutans. palmoilinfo4I’ve signed up to be a palm oil activist because when I visited the Amazon Rainforest in 2011 I experienced firsthand the beauty and diversity of life that is in tropical rainforests. Rainforests are clearly worth more standing than being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. I don’t believe that companies should destroy rainforests so they can provide me with my favorite snack food. The orangutan and other life forms should be able to thrive on this planet just like us. This is why I am a snacktivist and joined the campaign to share information on their behalf. Before I took this action I didn’t realize how many different products contain palm oil, or the many ingredients that are derived from the palm oil fruit. It was a fun and creative thing to do and it felt good to know that when we finished, the snack foods that contained this controversial oil were saturated with yellow stickers. I feel like we were giving customers a choice to educate themselves about how palm oil was touching their lives. Megan is a guest blogger from St. Petersburg, Florida. She is an avid snacktivist and Indonesian Rainforest protector. She enjoys guerrilla gardening in cities and mushroom hunting in the wilderness. She is interested in healing inner and outer landscapes through environmental education and ecological restoration. Her recent experiences include a mycoremediation project in oil-contaminated rainforest while living in a shack in the Amazon as well as designing and planting a food forest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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