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New Report: Asia Pulp & Paper Misleads Customers, Continues to Destroy Indonesia's Rainforests

WASHINGTON - A new report released today details how one of the world's largest pulp and paper companies has broken numerous promises to protect forests in Indonesia, and is clearing forests in violation of Indonesian regulations. Many of the paper products used in homes and offices in the U.S. are supplied or manufactured by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

Since it began operations in the 1980s, APP has been responsible for the loss of an area of natural forests in Sumatra's Riau Province the size of Delaware. According to the WWF report, Asia Pulp & Paper continues to destroy Indonesian rainforests on the island of Sumatra, home to endangered tiger and elephant populations, including vast peat swamp forests which WWF and others have proposed as national parks.

Additional clearing and burning of these forest will only further fuel the growing problem of climate change from a country that already ranks in the top five in the world of greenhouse gas emitters. The smoke and haze resulting from the uncontrolled burning of Indonesian rainforests this year has again sparked international tensions, halted air travel, created a public health crisis, and slowed tourism across the region.

WWF is calling on pulp and paper producers and buyers to avoid APP and other suppliers who use wood fiber from illegal sources and clear forests with a high conservation value. Some companies, like the Ricoh Group and Fuji Xerox Group, both headquartered in Japan, have stopped purchasing APP products.

"WWF has bent over backwards to work with APP and they have repeatedly broken their promises to be responsible stewards of Indonesia's dwindling forest resources," said Adam Tomasek, WWF-US Director of Borneo and Sumatra Program. "What's worse, APP is now touting a hollow commitment to conservation in an elaborate public relations and advertising campaign at the same time they are accelerating the clearing of rainforests. The time has come for all companies in the US and elsewhere to avoid using APP supplies."

Four years ago, APP made a public pledge to protect some of the high conservation value forests within its holdings, however, according to SmartWood, which was hired by APP to audit its performance, APP failed to protect them. Subsequently, in a meeting with WWF last June, the company refused to guarantee that these precious forests would be saved from the saw.

"Anyone buying products from a company that sources illegally or from the clearing of high conservation value forests is contributing to the devastating loss of rainforests in Indonesia and pushing tigers, elephants and other wildlife closer to extinction" said Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia's Director of Policy & Corporate Engagement. "The livelihoods of communities who depend on these forest resources are also at risk."

WWF is working closely with Indonesian government agencies to ensure that land-use planning and forest licensing does not wipe out Indonesia's rainforests which are some of the most biologically rich on Earth. Such collaboration has already led the Indonesian Forestry Ministry to issue decrees establishing an elephant conservation center in Riau, and putting a halt on further conversion of rainforests to other land uses.

1. WWF's new report "Hiding Destruction behind False Advertisements: APP continues to ignore calls for conservation beyond 'legal compliance', and even fails on the latter" can downloaded using links at the top

2. High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) are forests of outstanding and critical importance due to their environmental, socioeconomic, biodiversity or landscape values.

3. For guidance on responsible purchasing, see WWF's "The Responsible Purchasing of Forest Products" (second edition) at panda.org.

4. Other documents related to this press release are available on WWF Indonesia's web site at: www.wwf.or.id.