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Conservationists press Jakarta to follow industry lead on forests

8 June 2015 03:04 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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AFP - Conservationists are urging the Indonesian government to listen to business and start taking deforestation seriously after a major paper giant joined the growing ranks of companies pledging to stop clearing forests. Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL), the second largest pulp and paper company in Indonesia, announced this week it had stopped harvesting natural forest in a move hailed by its former critic Greenpeace as a “major breakthrough”.

Indonesia has some of the world’s most extensive and biodiverse rainforests, but huge swathes have been chopped down by palm oil, mining and timber companies.

As a result, Southeast Asia’s top economy has become the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter.

APRIL and its major rival Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which together produce 80 percent of Indonesia’s pulp products, have been accused of destroying vast tranches of the forests that are home endangered species such as Sumatran orangutans and tigers.

APRIL had only last year committed to phasing out deforestation in its supply chain by 2020, following APP’s promise in 2013 to stop using any logs from Indonesia’s natural forests in its mills.

But in what APRIL’s group president Praveen Singhavi called a major step in their “sustainability journey”, the company ceased forest clearing in May and promised no new developments on Indonesian forest or peat land.

Conservation groups, which stood side by side with APRIL executives in Jakarta as they made the announcement this week, said they would be keeping a close eye on the company’s operations to ensure their promises were kept.

“I think that’s where the challenge is,” WWF’s Aditya Bayunanda told AFP on Friday.
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