Greenpeace to cut ties with APP after allegations of deforestation

Satellite imagery, company deeds show Asia Pulp and Paper still linked to clearing of forests, peatland

International environmental group Greenpeace is cutting ties with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) over allegations that it is still linked to the destruction of forests for pulpwood.

The announcement puts an end to about five years of collaboration between them. Greenpeace had advised APP on the implementation of the latter's forest conservation policies.

"Greenpeace International has put these allegations to APP/Sinar Mas. The group failed to provide a credible response or take meaningful action.

"As a result, Greenpeace has ended all further engagement with APP/Sinar Mas," Greenpeace said yesterday.

Sinar Mas Group is the parent company of APP, Indonesia's largest pulp and paper company, which was linked to the severe haze in South-east Asia in 2015.

Following the crisis, APP beefed up its fire-suppression strategies and reaffirmed its commitment to the zero-deforestation pledge it made in 2013.

But an analysis of satellite imagery and company deeds showed that almost 8,000ha of forest and peatland had been cleared in two concessions owned by pulpwood company Muara Sungai Landak and a Sinar Mas mining company, Golden Energy and Resources, said Greenpeace.

Both concessions were linked to APP and the Sinar Mas Group, a claim which APP has disputed.

The latest allegations follow an Associated Press report last December that implied APP had covered up links to suppliers that practise deforestation or illegal slash-and-burn methods. APP rubbished the report when it was published.

Yesterday, an APP spokesman said an unnamed independent auditor had in 2014 concluded that Muara Sungai Landak had no relationship with APP.

"However, as a result of the allegation made in the Associated Press report, we conducted an investigation and found that three of (the company's) shareholders, and not two as stated in... Greenpeace's statement, had relationships with APP."

Two were former employees, and one was an employee who had not declared his shareholdings and position within Muara Sungai Landak.

"The employee was terminated with immediate effect," said the APP spokesman.

He said he was unable to speak on behalf of Golden Energy and Resources, as it "operates independently from us and does not supply wood to APP".