It’s been a year since Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL) released its latest ‘Sustainable Forest Management Plan’. The pulp & paper company asked critics to believe it was serious about the conservation of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands.
We were deeply sceptical. It isn’t the first time APRIL has made grand promises. In 2004, the company pledged to stop pulping the rainforest by 2009. Needless to say, it reneged on that promise – and every similar promise it has made since.
APRIL claims to have an ‘ongoing commitment to conservation and a sustainable approach to landscape development.’ But it plans to continue clearing forests until 2020. It also refuses to stop draining peatlands - even though doing so wrecks the climate, and leads to forest fires and floods.
Over the past year, our researchers have been monitoring APRIL’s operations on Padang island, off the coast of Sumatra. The photos they took show what APRIL really means when it talks about ‘sustainable forest management’.
March 2014: two months after APRIL announced its new policy, we caught the company clearing the rainforest and digging drainage canals into deep peatland.
Bulldozers clearing forest on Padang island.
A canal has been cut into the peat to drain the land.
May 2014: APRIL’s clearance continues.
Hundreds of hectares of rainforest has been destroyed and the landscape is dissected by drainage canals.
Diggers opening up new areas of rainforest.
Drainage canals have now been dug across the deep peatland.
These canals drain the landscape and are used to transport timber to APRIL's pulp mill.
Neat rows of log piles dissect the landscape.
November 2014: APRIL has almost completely cleared the rainforest.
Thousands of hectares of natural forest has been destroyed, replaced by a devastating sea of tree stumps and piled logs destined for pulping.
Piles of rainforest logs next to a drainage canal.
Another log pile ready to be transported to APRIL's pulp mill.
A burnt tree stump in the midst of the recently-cleared rainforest.
A Greenpeace researcher bears witness.
These photos - and the destruction they depict - give the lie to APRIL's claims of progress.
They're a stark reminder of the company's real objective: to clear as much of Indonesia's rainforest as it can get away with before it is forced to stop.
In fact, with the company’s larger competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper, having stopped clearing forests two years ago, APRIL is now the greatest single threat facing Indonesia's forests.
Companies that persist in buying from APRIL, and banks like Santander and ABN Amro that are financing APRIL’s operations, are helping to make destruction like this possible. They should take their business elsewhere until the company has changed its ways and agreed to protect what's left of Indonesia's forests and peatlands.