Pages tagged "rainforest"

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.




Activists Take to Grocery Stores Across US To Expose Controversial Ingredient in Quaker Products

Two year anniversary of campaign launches Week of Action against snack food giant for putting customers at risk of eating Conflict Palm Oil


CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989,


San Francisco, CA -- Today, hundreds of activists are taking part in a Week of Action in grocery stores and public spaces across the United States, engaging shoppers and rebranding grocery store shelves to warn customers that products from PepsiCo’s sub-brand Quaker may contain Conflict Palm Oil.

Activists are affixing stickers and placards to store food aisles to warn grocery store customers that they may be feeding their family Conflict Palm Oil. In addition, over a dozen activists have taken the lead to organize larger group actions, from street theatre to hanging banners, in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stevens Point, WI, and Orange County and Arcata, CA.

The activists say that PepsiCo’s palm oil commitment, and that of its sub-brands like Quaker, does not go far enough to prevent Conflict Palm Oil from appearing in its products. Conflict Palm Oil is linked with deforestation, habitat loss, climate change and human and labor rights abuses. The activists organized themselves to send a clear message to PepsiCo: “The time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from products is now.”

The Week of Action marks the two year anniversary of a campaign to pressure PepsiCo, the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world, to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain.

The campaign is part of a growing national movement to expose the threat of Conflict Palm Oil. Lindsay Vanderhoogt, a 24-year-old activist leading an action in Boston, said, “Whether we like it or not, palm oil is a part of our everyday lives. Palm oil is in everything from the food we eat to the shampoo we use. It's practically inescapable and irresponsibly produced Conflict Palm Oil is affecting our world in a very negative way.

“I'm excited to tackle this issue with my community in Boston not only because Conflict Palm Oil is something that affects everybody, but also because ever since the American Revolution, Boston has been a national leader. It's time for America to step up and take a stand against Conflict Palm Oil, and what better place to do this than in the ‘cradle of liberty’?” She said.

Rebecca Chung, a 16-year-old activist organizing a day-long event on Conflict Palm Oil in Orange County, CA, said, “I'm taking action in Orange County, because there's strength in numbers and education. I've always believed that if given an outlet to take action and given the information, the community would stand in solidarity against the injustices caused by Conflict Palm Oil.”

PepsiCo is one of the “Snack Food 20” group of companies targeted by Rainforest Action Network’s Conflict Palm Oil campaign. PepsiCo consumes more than 450,000 metric tons of palm oil annually for its snack food brands like Quaker, Doritos and others in the U.S., Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Europe, and its consumption of palm oil is on the rise.

Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network said, “PepsiCo is starting to take these issues seriously, but it is lagging behind its peers as it lacks a truly responsible palm oil policy. The requirements it currently has in place have critical gaps that must be addressed before PepsiCo can meet the new global benchmark for responsible palm oil procurement.

“For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt a binding, time bound policy with an action plan that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and verifiable safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands,” said Tillack.

Growing pressure from activists continue to demand that PepsiCo prove that it has broken the link between its products and rainforest destruction, climate pollution and human and workers’ rights violations.

Forests and Finance: New Cash for Conflict Palm Oil

RAN briefing finds pending $900 million deal threatens forests, peatlands and communities across Indonesia.

Indonesian palm oil firm BW Plantation (BWPT) approved last week a USD $900 million share rights offering in a bid to finance its merger with Green Eagle Holdings (GEH). New stock not purchased by existing shareholders will be traded on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (IDX) from Monday December 8. 

RAN released a briefing note, available here, on the controversial deal today, alerting investors to poorly disclosed Conflict Palm Oil risks.

The deal expands BWPT's holdings from just under 100,000 ha to over 400,000 ha, propelling it into the rank of Indonesia’s third largest palm oil company listed on the IDX. However, 75% of the new land bank - with holdings in Papua, Sulewesi, West, East and South Kalimantan and Sumatra - is unplanted and includes large tracts of rainforests, Indigenous and local community lands, and areas of carbon-rich peatlands.

Tom Picken, Senior Advisor for Forests and Finance campaign work at RAN, notes, “The last thing Indonesia needs is a near-billion dollar injection of cash that will simply fuel further Conflict Palm Oil production. We encourage potential investors to steer clear of this controversial deal until BWPT discloses the true extent of risks, and publicly commits to no deforestation, no exploitation, and no peatland expansion across its entire operations.”

The briefing finds evidence of aggressive clearance of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since 2010, orangutans needing to be rescued from a Kalimantan concession two weeks ago, at least one case of serious labour rights violations this year in Papua, as well as a number of community conflicts in the expanded holdings of the BWPT plantations group.

BWPT is already failing to comply with its obligations under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) relating to new plantations, much less meet the additional “no deforestation, no peatland expansion and no exploitation” criteria of its major customers.

Actions on the ground will tell the tale.  For now, BWPT looks like the new bad boy on the block, making it an important target for intensified public scrutiny and accountability.

"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.


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.


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.


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!

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