Tropical forest destruction for children books

Posted on 14 October 2009
Illegal logging for paper industry and forest clearing for Palm oil plantation, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF / Alain COMPOSTEnlarge
Frankfurt - Tropical forests are dying for German children books. This was the result of the WWF investigation “Tropical forest destruction for Children´s books - an analysis of the book market in Germany” which is presented today at the Frankfurt bookfair.

In 19 out of the 51 children’s books tested there were significant traces of tropical wood present. Among these also well known books such as „Benjamin Blümchen - Komm mit mir durch den Tag!“, „Felix bei den Kindern dieser Welt“ and „Bodobär auf der Ritterburg“.
WWF has tested books titles from 13 publishers positive for tropical wood content, among them Bertelsmann, Esslinger from the Klett-group and Pattloch from the publishing house Droember Knaur ( a daughter of the publishers Holtzbrink and Weltbild).

“Books from tropical forest destruction contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change as for their production forests are destroyed which are important habitats and gigantic carbon sinks”, said Nina Griesshammer, WWF forest expert. “The types of tropical wood found in the books such as Shorea or Rhizophora do not typically occur in plantations but rather almost exclusively in natural and virgin tropical forests. The logical conclusion is that for those books which tested positive for tropical wood, natural tropical forest was destroyed.”

More and more books sold in Germany are produced outside of Germany, primarily in China. 34,4% of books imported to Germany come from China, amounting to approximately 41 thousand tons of paper. The risk is high that for these products wood from forest destruction was used.

The Chinese paper industry today plays the dominant role in the global pulp trade. Almost 17 % of pulp on the world market is exported to China. Nearly 50 % of pulp exports from Indonesia, for which it is well known for years that large areas of tropical forests are destroyed, go to China.

One of the most important players in Chinese paper production is the Indonesian company Sinar Mas Group (SMG). Via a range of daughter companies such as Asia Pulp and paper (APP) they export large amounts of pulp and paper to China and also produce books themselves.
APP is the third largest producer of pulp and paper in the world and responsible for the destruction of enormous areas of tropical rainforest in Indonesia. Alone in the province Riau which is located on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, APP and their suppliers are responsible for 40 % of the entire forest destruction. Currently APP is also strongly criticized for trying to get harvesting rights within of an Orang-Utan protection project in Sumatra, in the Bukit Tigapuluh Nationalpark.

“Because more and more books bought in Germany are produced in other countries, particularly China, there is an increased probability that the purchase of books in Germany contributes to tropical forest destruction such as in Indonesia. Childrens books of all things are related to the habitat destruction for future generations“, said Johannes Zahnen, paper expert of WWF Germany.

As a consequence of the analysis WWF asks publishing houses to make a self-commitment towards the use of recycled paper or credibly certified virgin fibre from responsible forest management. According to WWF and other environmental organizations the only credible international forest certification system is currently the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

„We call upon publishers to make a contribution towards ending forest destruction“, said Johannes Zahnen. “ The publishers should use their market position to motivate the paper industry for environmentally friendly book and paper production.“

Global paper consumption has been growing continually for years. It has quadrupled since 1960. Around half of the world´s commercial timber cut is currently used for paper. 10% of the world´s population, Western Europe and North America, are using more than half of the world´s paper.

More information: Christian Plaep, Pressestelle, WWF Germany, 004969-79144-214; Mobil 0049162 29144 50

Illegal logging for paper industry and forest clearing for Palm oil plantation, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF / Alain COMPOST Enlarge

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