Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How global forest-destroyers are turning over a new leaf

Bill Laurance in Terra Daily via the Conversation: Indonesia is the world's biggest destroyer of forests and four multinational corporations - APP, APRIL, Wilmar and Golden Agri Resources - have been responsible for much of it. Until recently these mega-corporations were considered environmental pariahs, but suddenly things seem to be changing, with all four proclaiming "no deforestation" policies. What gives?

APP and APRIL are giant paper-pulp corporations. Collectively, they've cleared several million hectares of native Indonesian rainforest and other lands to grow fast-growing pulpwoods, turning the original rainforest into pulp in the process. Wilmar and Golden Agri Resources are the world's two biggest producers of palm oil - a key driver of forest destruction across the tropics, especially in southeast Asia.

Golden Agri Resources led the way, announcing a no-deforestation policy in 2011. Under growing pressure, its sister company APP (Asia Pulp and Paper) followed suit early last year.

APP's metamorphosis was especially stunning. For years, APP had thumbed its nose at critics while bulldozing ever more forest. This was easy for it to do because APP is largely a privately held corporation and because countries such as China and India - which generally don't fuss too much about the environment - snapped up much of its pulp and paper products.

But gradually, the tide turned against APP. Its critics mounted, its reputation turned increasingly toxic, and it began to lose more and more market share. By this point, it had cleared vast expanses of native forest for plantations, and so had less need for more forest clearing....

The last batch of sawnwood from the peat forest in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province, Indonesia. Deforestation for oil palm plantation. Shot by Aidenvironment, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: