UPDATE: On October 11, 2012, Disney announced a comprehensive paper policy that maximizes its use of environmentally superior papers like recycled and eliminates controversial sources like those connected to Indonesian rainforest destruction. For more info, visit www.ran.org/disney.
Here at RAN, attacks on our organization are often a sign that our tactics are working. Just such an affirmation arrived last week, when logging giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) went to great lengths in an attempt to challenge the validity of a case study report recently released by RAN that profiles the devastating social and ecological consequences of APP’s reckless logging practices.
The report, titled Corruption, Land Conflict and Forest Destruction was released with the launch of RAN’s campaign to get the Walt Disney Company to stop using paper connected to rainforest destruction.
APP has a long history of corruption, political manipulation and aggressive expansion into new forests and new markets. The UK Guardian’s George Monbiot said the corporation may be “one of the most destructive companies on the planet.”
True to form, APP responded aggressively to the release of RAN’s case study detailing impacts on local communities and forests caused by APP’s deforestation. According to the Vancouver Sun on June 6, 2011, “APP responded to the RAN report by sending speedboats and helicopters to the remote community in Sumatra to question villagers.”
RAN’s main concern is for the communities and community members who have raised their voices to bring attention to the egregious actions of APP. Any intimidation and harassment of community members is unacceptable. RAN will continue to monitor the safety and security of our allies as we pursue our campaign goals of challenging the destructive practices of APP.
APP paid to promote its claims on an international business wire, alleging the community leaders featured in RAN’s report had disavowed their previous statements. RAN stands by the evidence and conclusions presented in the case study and challenges APP to address the substantive claims the case presents. In fact, National Public Radio’s program Living on Earth did a feature episode on deforestation and climate change in late 2009 in which they visited the same area featured in RAN’s report. Their coverage echo’s the content and conclusions put forward in RAN’s case study.
RAN has long recognized APP as one of the world’s most dangerous rainforest destroyers and has campaigned successfully to get leading companies including the Gucci Group, Simon & Schuster, International Paper, Tiffany & Co., Levi’s, Penguin/Pearson, and over 20 others to sever ties to APP and controversial Indonesian fiber. Perhaps APP’s distortion of facts and focus on RAN is evidence that the global campaign to may be getting under the company’s skin.
By its intimidating response, APP is avoiding the important questions about its operations raised by the report that it doesn’t want to answer. Is APP still clearing tiger habitat and other valuable natural forests and peatlands? Is APP respecting the free, prior and informed consent of communities to choose if their traditional lands become company controlled plantations? Are the people and environment better off than before the company came in? What are APP’s expansion plans and where is the fiber and money coming from to fuel its expansion?
APP’s response to RAN illustrates the company’s newfound sophistication in corporate double speak and over-the-top greenwashing. The company has hired slick pr firm Cohn and Wolfe and launched a vigorous drive to clean up its image through flowery words and visionary statements that would be comical if they did not conceal such a dark truth beneath.
For a preview of what we can expect to see more of as the global campaign to unmask APP continues to grow in scope and strength, visit the company’s new website, Rainforest Realities, perhaps the pinnacle of the companies Orwellian tactics to date. With categories like ‘biodiversity’ ‘carbon storage’ and my favorite, ‘people, planet, profit,’ we can see that APP is learning the language of sustainability. We can only hope they will soon be motivated enough to actually practice it.