Greenpeace, WWF cut ties with Indonesia pulp and paper giant

AP News
Posted: Dec 16, 2016 7:47 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Greenpeace and WWF have suspended their relationship with one of Indonesia's leading pulp and paper companies, saying it didn't live up to promises to improve its environmental record.

The two organizations were members of an advisory committee for Asia Pacific Resources International, better known as April, that the company set up to help it meet conservation commitments.

Both conservation groups said they withdrew from the committee because April dug an extensive canal to drain peatland on an island off Sumatra, in violation of government policy and its own commitments, and provided misleading information about that, among other reasons.

Draining of peat swamps to convert them to palm oil and pulp wood plantations is a big contributor to destruction of tropical forests in Indonesia and to the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Draining the swamps worsens annual dry season fires that take a toll on human health and also release huge amounts of carbon stored in the peat.

Greenpeace campaigner Andy Tait said Friday that Greenpeace and WWF's withdrawal would likely have "adverse consequences" for April's business globally and cause it regulatory problems in Indonesia.

A Greenpeace statement released Dec. 8 said the advisory committee was "repeatedly and consistently misled" by April and there was no point in continuing the relationship with the company.

WWF said it suspended its relationship with April in November. In a Dec. 9 advisory aimed at investors and pulp and paper buyers, it said they should continue to "wait and see" before buying from April or investing in the company.

A summary of the last meeting of April's advisory committee in early December, released by the company, said the canal was an "unfortunate incident" and April had misinterpreted fire management and prevention regulations.

In practice, the company constructed a new drainage canal when the government's fire prevention efforts called for drainage canals in peatlands to be blocked.