A group of some of the largest and most respected environmental groups in North America will distribute a letter to the printing industry and other paper buyers today, in a united effort to bring greater environmental scrutiny to the climate and deforestation crisis in Indonesia's carbon-rich peatlands and rainforests. The letter draws attention to the fact that a new paper merchant, craftily named Eagle Ridge Paper, that has recently appeared in North America drumming up business for its discount paper rolls, is actually a thinly disguised division of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), an ambitious multinational forest and paper company with a long track record to date of environmental devastation.
The letter begins,
"We are writing to you today to provide important information about environmentally responsible paper. A new paper distribution company, named Eagle Ridge Paper, is obtaining pulp and paper products from operations having adverse climate, human rights and biodiversity impacts in Indonesia. Indonesia's rainforests are scientifically documented to have outstanding and rare ecological value. We believe that this paper's true costs are more than our planet can afford."The letter is signed by NRDC, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Green America, Green Press Initiative, Canopy, Environmental Investigation Agency, Dogwood Alliance and ForestEthics. It goes on to say,
"In October 2009, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) set up a new marketing & distribution arm - named Eagle Ridge Paper - in North America. This move came after APP lost hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with large customers such as Unisource, Office Depot, Staples, Corporate Express and others because of its poor environmental and social record and its reported links to illegally obtained wood.Recently, a string of companies in the fashion industry including, Tiffany's, Gucci, and H&M, have chosen to take their business elsewhere as well in an effort to align their paper purchasing supply chain with their stated corporate responsibility values. The letter goes on to say,
Indonesia's rainforests comprise some of the most biologically diverse forests on the planet and provide habitat for endangered orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, and many other endangered species. Indonesia's rainforests are also home to millions of Indigenous people whose cultures and livelihoods are directly dependent on natural forests. They also store and capture billions of tons of CO2, and in so doing help maintain our atmosphere's biochemical equilibrium."
"Unfortunately, Indonesia suffers from among the fastest rates of deforestation in the tropics. According to reports from the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association, World Wide Fund for Nature and others, APP and its fiber suppliers are the leaders in clearing and converting vast areas of rainforests in Sumatra and Borneo for pulp and paper."Scientists say the extinction bomb is ticking for some iconic species, including one of our closest relatives. Orangutans, whose name means "man of the forest" - share about 97 per cent of our DNA. Researchers predict that if current conditions continue, they will be extinct in the wild in ten to twenty years.
The Sumatran tiger faces its own race against time, as its habitat shrinks to make way for paper and palm oil production. There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia and they are under relentless pressure from poaching and clearing of their habitat. After five years of studying tigers using wildlife-activated still camera traps, these are the first images of a tiger with offspring and were recorded after WWF-Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger research team set up new video camera traps along a wildlife “corridor” known to be used by tigers.
“We are very concerned because the territory of this tiger and its cubs is being rapidly cleared by two global paper companies, palm oil plantations, encroachers and illegal loggers. Will the cubs survive to adulthood in this environment?” said Karmila Parakkasi, the leader of WWF-Indonesia’s tiger team.For its part, APP has been out there painting itself green, with commercials on CNN International, claiming, "APP Cares." And doing interviews for the North American market in trade publications, skillfully talking in circles, and playing the victim but rarely talking about the direct issues at hand.
The Paper Planet encourages you to look into these issues yourself, to make your own conclusions. When using paper, please reduce unnecessary paper use, and consider your paper purchases carefully. We all use paper. But low carbon, environmentally responsible options are now available, so there's no excuses. The letter sent today suggests to printers that they learn more and find recommendations of responsible paper choices to meet their business needs and offer their customers at http://www.whatsinyourpaper.com.