Pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) has refuted recent claims by non-profit Greenpeace International that it is misleading its customers, calling the accusations “off-base” in a statement released to media on Friday.
The Singapore-based firm which has manufacturing operations in Indonesia’s Riau Province said that it is “in full compliance with its sustainable forest management policies and that attacks on its credibility by Greenpeace are off-base”.
Michael Zampa, APRIL director of corporate communications, said that the firm was “sticking to all the policies” it announced under its Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP) earlier in January.
These policies, which the firm says is also adopted by its suppliers, include a moratorium on any activities in APRIL or supplier concessions where high conservation value (HCV) assessments have yet to be completed.
Some others are the restoration of 40,000 hectares of forest, and a commitment for all its fibre to come from planation sources by end 2019.
Zampa said these policies are “being vigorously implemented and overseen by an independent, multi-party Stakeholder Advisory Committee”.
APRIL’s statement follows claims by Greenpeace International last week that APRIL was still engaging in deforestation and was misleading its customers about its sustainability policies.
The NGO provided a leaked customer presentation document by APRIL that stated it has “strong support” from non-profit WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and that the Norwegian Government has endorsed its Sustainable Forest Management Policy launched earlier this year.
Greenpeace said both parties confirmed that these statements are incorrect and that they do not endorse the policy.
APRIL said in its statement: “We do not comment on dealings with specific customers or on what others may have said to Greenpeace about us. We are however completely transparent with our customers about our sustainability policies. We regularly communicate with bankers and customers about our progress and compliance.”
Greenpeace last week also released photographic evidence collected from a flyover in late May documenting this and the drainage of peatlands at the site of an APRIL supplier on Padang Island off the coast of Riau.
We are completely transparent with our customers about our sustainability policies.
Michael Zampa, APRIL director of corporate communications
It’s time for APRIL to stop its greenwash and to strengthen its commitments, through a policy that applies to all pulp companies in the RGE group and which includes an immediate moratorium on rainforest clearance
Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner, Zulfahmi
But APRIL said in its statement that “plantation establishment work there only started after thorough third party assessment of the concession area”.
“High conservation value (HCV) forest was identified and is being conserved in that concession. The photos circulated by Greenpeace are all of APRIL’s non-HCV operational areas designated for plantation development,” it added.
APRIL added that land management plans its Pulau Padang concession have also been the subject of extensive review by the Indonesian authorities and other third parties over the past two years.
When contacted, however, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner Zulfahmi told Eco-Business: “Greenpeace notes that APRIL has not addressed it’s false claims regarding endorsements from WWF or the Norwegian Government, nor the false claim that all its conservation assessments have been independently peer reviewed by the High Conservation Value Resource Network.’
“It’s time for APRIL to stop its greenwash and to strengthen its commitments, through a policy that applies to all pulp companies in the RGE group and which includes an immediate moratorium on rainforest clearance,” he said.
The war of words between Greenpeace and APRIL come amid ‘burning season’ in Indonesia when farmers illegally set fire to plantations as a quick and easy way to clear land for growing crops.
Many of the other fires detected in Riau late last month were within concession areas of pulp and palm oil companies or their suppliers.
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