Where were you on February 5, 2013, when one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies committed to end deforestation? It is a time that we at Greenpeace will never forget.
We had spent nearly 3 years campaigning against Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), and with the help of Greenpeace supporters, we had already gotten major companies like Mattel and KFC to stop buying the rainforest destroyer’s paper.
Finally, one year ago, APP pledged to turn over a new leaf. A lot has happened since then, and we’ve learned so much.
Nine months after APP’s zero Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), we announced the company was making good progress in implementation, and we were satisfied with the strength of the commitment shown by its senior staff. Predictably it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, and there are still further actions APP can pursue to strengthen its delivery.
Now one year later, we can reflect back on the historic year for Indonesia’s rainforests. Here are the top 9 conclusions of the year.
- Protecting forests, peatlands, and the rights of local and indigenous communities does not have an end date. Zero deforestation must be a permanent part of a company’s business model.
- Even for companies whose entire model of business is predicated on the use of natural resources, it is possible to protect this planet’s natural resources for future generations. We could protect so much rainforest today, if only there were the willpower and motivation to do it.
- Other companies need to join APP and set a zero deforestation goal. There are so many opportunities and obstacles, most of which will not be realized or resolved by the commitments of just one company, no matter how commendable they are.
- APP’s largest rival in Indonesia, Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) illustrates points #2 and #3 perfectly. APRIL refuses to follow APP’s lead in putting an immediate moratorium on further rainforest clearance. APRIL is now the largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry. Between 2009-2011, the company was responsible for a sixth of all forested tiger habitat loss, including the destruction of areas of primary forest and deep peatland.
- Overlapping licenses, where more than one natural resource company is permitted to exploit the same plot of land, makes preservation very difficult. Why would any one company choose to protect an area if another company could legally come in and destroy it for its own gain? The Indonesian government needs to work to eliminate this conflict. Greenpeace will continue to work toward a policy solution on this issue in Indonesia.
- It is not just pulp and paper companies that will determine the future of our planet. Other industries must embrace zero deforestation. On December 5, 2013, exactly 10 months after APP’s announcement, Wilmar International, the world’s largest player in the palm oil industry, established a zero deforestation, zero peatland, zero human exploitation policy. If it is properly implemented, it could transform the historically destructive palm oil industry.
- The Orangutan and Sumatran tiger need a lot more than for companies to do the right thing. Only about 400 Sumatran tigers exist in the wild. Their rainforest home is being steadily destroyed by APRIL, palm oil companies, and other extractive industries. Time is running out.
- Saving the rainforest is not just about orangutans and tigers. Indigenous people and local communities rely on the Indonesian rainforest for their livelihood. APP has a number of social conflicts to resolve, but it has put policies and procedures in place to tackle them. Conflict resolution will take time, patience and collaboration.
- Consumers have power. If you care about what is happening in our planet’s rainforests, then it is up to you to tell companies to listen. We have seen how consumer demand for zero deforestation paper helped drive APP to change one year ago. We are seeing how demand for zero deforestation palm oil is driving companies like Ferrero, Unilever, Nestle, Mondelez (formerly Kraft), L’Oreal, and Hershey to change their ways.
The first year of APP’s new way of doing business is a cause for optimism. But we can never stop learning and fighting for a day when the world’s rainforests are free from chainsaws and bulldozers. APP’s journey toward zero deforestation will help point the way there.