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Rainforest Action Network: International Paper Threatens to Violate Own Policy by Expanding Into Indonesian Rainforest

May 12, 2008
5:40 PM

CONTACT: Rainforest Action Network
Sam Haswell, Communications Director
(415) 659-0519
Cameron Scott, Communications Manager
(415) 659-0541
Nell Greenberg, Communications Manager
(415) 659-0557

International Paper Threatens to Violate Own Policy by Expanding Into Indonesian Rainforest
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - May 12 - Rainforest Action Network and ForestEthics today condemned a proposal by U.S.-based International Paper to build a pulp mill and establish 1.2 million acres of plantation forest in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest. The groups urged International Paper, which is holding its Annual General Meeting today, to not violate its own paper policy and to abandon its plans to expand into Indonesia, a global warming and biodiversity hot spot.

The policy,[1] announced in 2003, states: “International Paper will not procure or use wood that originates in biological hotspots or endangered, native forests in Indonesia or other parts of the world designated by Conservation International, as biodiversity hotspots or major tropical wilderness areas. We will assure that any wood procured from within the boundaries of these special areas comes solely from plantations and that our procurement practices do not jeopardize the ecological integrity of these hotspots.”

“Most Indonesian wood is either harvested illegally or taken without consent from the country’s Indigenous peoples,” said Brant Olson, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Old Growth Campaign. “A move by International Paper to break its own commitment by sourcing from Indonesia would be a major setback for the climate, biodiversity, and Indonesia’s forest communities.”

International Paper is among the world’s biggest pulp and paper producers. In 2003, it joined home builder Centex Homes and home improvement retailer Lanoga in announcing it would stop buying Indonesian wood products until the Indonesian government sufficiently addressed illegal logging within its borders and respected the property rights of its Indigenous populations. Since then, logging practices have further deteriorated, Indonesia’s small farmers and Indigenous groups continue to be pushed off their traditional lands, and the country’s carbon-rich forests and peatlands are disappearing at the alarming rate of more than 2.8 million hectares a year.

Major environment groups in Indonesia are calling for a moratorium on any expansion of the pulp and paper industry or further forest conversion, due to its enormous social and environmental impacts. Recent research indicates that deforestation in Indonesia is happening at a faster rate than anywhere else on earth, a trend that has catapulted the nation into its current position as the world’s 3rd largest carbon dioxide emitter.

“Each year, deforestation in Indonesia accounts for more emissions than all the cars, planes, buses and trucks in the U.S. combined – and much of this can be tied back to forest conversion and the pulp and paper industry,” said Lafcadio Cortesi of ForestEthics. “It’s imperative that IP publicly reject any proposals for expansion into Indonesia given the current problems with the industry, illegal logging, and the impacts of deforestation on the climate and unique ecosystems of Indonesia.”

[1] International Paper Policy on Indonesian Wood, September 2002


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