Process of peatland subsidence leading to flooding, fire, and carbon emissions. Graphic: Wetlands International, 2016

By Jonathan Vit
22 April 2016

(mongabay.com) – Asia Pulp & Paper’s (APP) plans to operate a giant mill in South Sumatra later this year have raised some uncomfortable questions about the veracity of the conglomerate’s lauded no-deforestation commitment and the potential environmental impact on one of Indonesia’s most-fire prone provinces.

The new mill, which is being built by PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills, would increase APP’s fiber demand by 73% when it begins to operate at full capacity — and require nearly quadruple the fiber its plantations in South Sumatra have produced in the past, according to an exhaustive report into APP’s expansion plans released this week by a dozen environmental organizations.

The report, titled Will Asia Pulp & Paper default on its ‘zero deforestation’ commitment?, offers compelling evidence that APP does not have access to enough plantation wood to supply its pulp mills in Sumatra with the fiber needed to operate at full capacity without either resuming deforestation — and reneging on its landmark Forest Conservation Policy — or importing additional supply from abroad at great cost, explained Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and one of the report’s co-authors.

“We’re concerned that the new mill will create added pressure to maintain and expand the system of industrial agriculture on drained peatlands that caused Indonesia’s devastating fires last year,” Cortesi told Mongabay. “The economics and imperative to feed the pulp mill may also force APP to choose whether it will go back to using rainforest fiber or fail to pay back its debt.” [more]

Grim forecast for paper giant’s wood supply raises deforestation fears

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