Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Report: Banks, Pulp, and People

"The aim of our report is to inform financial institutions about the impacts and risks of upcoming pulp investments before decisions are made and contracts are signed", says Heffa Schücking, director of the German environment and human-rights organization Urgewald.

Over the next five years, the global pulp industry is planning to increase its production capacity by more than 25 million tonnes. This capacity increase is unprecedented and would mean a five-fold increase, when compared to the growth rates of the last decade. More importantly, it would mean a dramatic increase in the problems that the pulp sector is already causing for people and the environment in producer countries.

"Pulp mills and the industrial tree plantations that feed them have become increasingly controversial", says Chris Lang, the author of the report Banks, Pulp and People – A Primer on Upcoming International Pulp Projects. "The vast areas of monocultures required to feed modern mills have severe impacts on biodiversity, forests, water, land rights and livelihoods. And pulp mills themselves are among the most polluting industrial facilities, with grave consequences for the health of local communities and riverine ecosystems. Its no wonder, that in country after country, local people and environmental organizations have taken to the streets to protest against these developments", he adds.

The bulk of new expansions are slated to take place in only a few countries: Uruguay, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, China and Russia. The report gives a detailed description of the impacts of the industry in these countries as well as analyzing the track records of the involved companies.

In order to hold the financiers of the pulp industry accountable, Urgewald has also set up a new website, www.pulpmillwatch.org. It documents the problems caused by the pulp industry's operations and informs the public, financiers and decision makers regularly about upcoming problematic projects.

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