Source : AFP – December 14, 2011
By Angela Dewan
A coalition of environmental groups headed by WWF accused Indonesia’s biggest paper producer Asia Pulp & Paper Wednesday of clearing forest in a tiger sanctuary set up by the company.
The report, “The truth behind APP’s greenwashing” by the coalition Eyes on the Forest, published satellite maps showing cleared land within the Senepis tiger sanctuary that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) established on Sumatra island.
“APP has repeatedly used this tiger sanctuary as part of their sustainability campaign. They have lied to the public and their buyers by saying the area is being conserved for tigers,” WWF-Indonesia spokesman Aditya Bayunanda told AFP.
The report also showed maps that indicated 86 percent of the sanctuary was already classified by the government as partly protected, meaning that sustainable selective logging can be carried out.
“We looked at the satellite images and matched that with what was happening on the ground. We always use satellite imagery because companies can’t hide from that,” Bayunanda said.
Environmental group Greenpeace has in recent years waged highly successful campaigns against APP, the fourth-largest paper company in the world, saying it has destroyed millions of hectares (acres) of tropical forest.
More than a dozen major international companies, such as Barbie maker Mattel, KFC and Walmart, have dropped paper packaging contracts with APP since Greenpeace exposed what it says is the company’s unsustainable practices.
APP said the allegations in the latest report were “totally false” and published online a government map indicating that the area it was carrying out logging was outside the sanctuary.
“We have also published pictures of the real Senepis tiger sanctuary which show that it has been preserved as dense, natural forest,” APP managing director Aida Greenbury said in a statement.
The tiger reserve sits in Riau province on carbon-rich and biodiverse peatland and is surrounded by vast tracts of destroyed forest, cleared mostly for paper and palm oil plantations.
The sanctuary is home to some of the world’s rarest wildcats, including the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, of which fewer than 400 remain.
WWF said the sanctuary area was not connected by corridors to other forests, so land clearing there put the tigers closer to extinction.
“Riau has lost so much of its lowland forest now that each one left is like a sanctuary for animals,” Bayunanda said.
“If this land is cleared, they will have nowhere to go.”
Indonesia is home to around 10 percent of the world’s tropical forest, and has struggled for decades to control rampant destruction on its lushest islands, Sumatra and Kalimantan, as well as in Papua, the western half of New Guinea island.
The government in May implemented a two-year ban on issuing new permits to clear primary forests and peatland in a carbon-cutting deal backed with $1 billion from Norway.
UN data show that deforestation and forest degradation accounts for 70 percent of carbon emissions in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter.
The country has pledged to cut emissions by 26 percent from 2009 levels — or 41 percent with international help — by 2020.