Published in the Ecologist, December 2010. To view the article in its original format, click here.

Controversial Indonesian company Asia Pulp & Paper has come under fire from environmentalists because of  ‘false claims’ over Sumatran rainforest carbon reserve

A report released by Indonesian activist group Greenomics has accused Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), part of the Sinar Mas group, of making false claims of ‘going green’.

According to the report, logging giant APP were obliged to set aside 15,640 ha of Sumatran rainforest in accordance with Indonesian law following the assessment of the area by subsidiary company PT. Putra Riau Perkasa (PRP), which found the site was unsuitable for plantation and fulfilled requirements for legal protection.

But, the campaign group claims, APP is ‘deliberately misleading the public’ by claiming to be voluntarily setting the area aside in ‘an attempt to dupe the public into believing that the company is “going green.”’

Carbon conservation

In a press release APP heralded the Kampar Carbon Reserve project, under which the area has been set aside as a carbon reserve, as the ‘world’s first pulpwood plantation concession to carbon reserve REDD+ initiative’. They were able to claim this because of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s (MOF) originally assessment which deemed the land suitable for plantation development.

However Greenomics have questioned the reliability of the MOF’s assessment, claiming it was hurriedly carried out ‘on a quick visit from Jakarta’. Later a ‘more reliable’ assessment by PRP found the area was unsuitable and fulfilled requirements for legal protection.

‘None of the pulpwood concession area of PRP can be developed for pulpwood plantation because all of the concession area is categorized as a protected zone that must be conserved by Indonesian laws and regulations, not by APP’s policy,’ said Elfian Effendi, executive director of Greenomics.

‘APP must convey their deep apology to the public … [and] withdraw their misleading press release because that press release has manipulated the legal facts,’ he added.

APP are part of the Sinar Mas conglomerate, Indonesia’s largest palm oil and pulp company, whose environmental record has been fiercely criticized by environmentalists who accuse the company of repeated greenwashing alongside flagrant environmental destruction.

Greenomics say APP is doing the same again, ‘attempting to ‘establish its “green credentials” in the face of mounting international criticism of the Sinar Mas Group’s notorious forestry practises which continue to destroy Indonesia’s forests at an alarming rate.’

APP has consistently denied the accusations against their environmental policies, claiming to support conservation and employ sustainable practises. The company did not respond to The Ecologist‘s request for comment.