APRIL, pulp and paper giant ends its deforestation

Indonesian paper giant APRIL just agreed to stop pulping the rainforest. With so many companies trying to put deforestation behind them, will Indonesia’s President Jokowi follow their lead?

We’ve achieved so much together.

Across Indonesia, years of campaigning to end forest destruction are starting to pay off. Indonesia’s biggest pulp & paper company, and some of its biggest palm oil companies and traders, have promised to turn their backs on deforestation. This came about because hundreds of thousands of us took action to force major brands including Nestlé, Unilever, P&G and Mattel to agree to stop buying the products linked to deforestation.

Then today, another breakthrough.

Instead of turning amazing forests into throwaway paper and pulp, Indonesia’s remaining pulp and paper giant APRIL has finally stopped its destruction and says it will protect Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands.

This move is hugely important for Indonesia’s forests and peatlands, and is only possible because people like you joined forces to pressure big bankers and customers. Indonesia is one of the only places in the world where rainforests have been pulped for paper and packaging. Now both of the main players in Indonesia’s pulp and paper sector – APRIL and APP, responsible for producing over 80 percent of Indonesia’s pulp – have turned their backs on deforestation. That is thanks to you, me and thousands just like us standing up for what we believe in.

Of course APRIL has made promises like this before. Greenpeace and other NGOs will be watching its progress very closely. If the company is breaking its promises, we will act.

But this isn’t the end of the story.

APRIL’s pledge is just the latest example of Indonesia’s biggest plantation companies distancing themselves from deforestation. We have to ensure this fresh start by another of Indonesia’s biggest forest leaseholders translates into real and measurable forest protection.

Even though companies are turning off their bulldozers, the devastation continues. Deforestation is not just bad for forests, wildlife and local communities, it’s also terrible for our climate. Indonesia is one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases. The majority of its emissions are from deforestation and peatland destruction, including forest fires.

Key business leaders, representing some of the country’s biggest plantation companies, are now pushing for lasting solutions to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. They want political reform of the plantation sector and a new economic model based on forest protection.

So what is the government doing about it?

Late last year, Indonesia’s new President Jokowi, together with Greenpeace and other NGOs, made a trademark impromptu investigation to Riau, Sumatra. Jokowi was moved by the forest and peatland destruction he witnessed there. He promised to act.

However, Jokowi lost an important opportunity last month when his government’s Forest Moratorium was due to expire. The existing moratorium left uncovered at least 48.5 million hectares of forest – an area over three times the size of Java. But Jokowi dropped the ball and failed to protect forests and support progressive industry by closing the moratorium loopholes.

It’s not too late.

As we head toward the Paris climate summit at the end of the year, Jokowi still has a chance to show global leadership. The first step must be to revisit the moratorium that he just renewed. It needs to be toughened to keep the bulldozers out of all remaining forest. This would buy the time we urgently need to reform the laws and regulations governing Indonesia’s forests and peatlands.

President Jokowi has a mandate to protect Indonesia’s forests. The only question is whether he has the will.

Bustar Maitar is the Global Head of Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace South East Asia.

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