Saturday, 14 December 2019

NGOs: APRIL Dodging Inquiry into Forest Operations

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  • ANTARA/Fanny Octavianus

    ANTARA/Fanny Octavianus

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Three environmental organizations accused Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) of evading an inquiry into its deforestation practices following the pulp and paper giant's withdrawal from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme last month.

    The FSC lets companies use its trademark on their products through chain-of-custody (CoC) certificates, granted to firms whose operations meet certain standards. On June 14, APRIL requested the FSC withdraw its CoC certificates.

    In May, the three environmental groups, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), lodged a complaint with the FSC, accusing APRIL of continued large-scale conversions of natural forests, including high conservation value forests (HCVF), a violation of FSC standards.

    Companies with CoC certificates are not allowed to convert more than 10,000 hectares of forest in the past five years. But the NGOs said that from 2007-2012, APRIL turned nearly 200,000 hectare of Sumatran forest into plantations.

    "By walking away from the FSC, APRIL is sending a clear signal to the market that it has no intention of stopping its destructive operations," said Lafcadio Cortesi from RAN, according to WWF's website. "Contrary claims by APRIL are no more than greenwash."

    In 2012 alone, APRIL suppliers planned to clear around 60,000 hectares of rainforest, said Zulfahmi from Greenpeace Southeast Asia, according to WWF's website. "Greenpeace is calling on any company buying from APRIL to cancel these contracts until APRIL finally cleans up its act and stops trashing rainforests," ­Zulfahmi said, adding that APRIL was now "the largest driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia."

    APRIL still holds CoC certificates from the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). "By quitting the FSC, APRIL is avoiding independent scrutiny of its operations as presented in the NGO's formal complaint to the FSC," said Aditya Bayunanda from WWF Indonesia. It is effectively admitting its deforestation practices are incompatible with the FSC."The three NGOs have called on APRIL to implement a zero-deforestation policy.

    APRIL is part of Royal Golden Eagle, a massive holding company whose owner, Sukanto Tanoto, is one of the richest Indonesians and lives in Singapore. (*)