Monitoring the paper industry | WWF
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Monitoring the pulp and paper industry

In the 1980s, Sumatra Island in Indonesia was covered with one of the richest and most diverse tropical natural forests in the world. However, a lot of the forests providing home to rich biodiversity and livelihoods to millions of people have disappeared over recent decades to make place for the production of commodities like pulp & paper. Since the early 2000s, WWF-Indonesia, together with many other non-governmental organisations (NGO´s), has been closely monitoring the negative impacts of deforestation caused by the pulp and paper sector in Indonesia.

In 2004, WWF-Indonesia and a local NGO alliance in Riau Province established Eyes on the Forest (EoF), a coalition of environmental NGO´s to start investigating those who clear forests and grab land they do not own. In 2012, the Anti Forest-Mafia Coalition which includes WWF-Indonesia released its first report about paper giants APP and APRIL highlighting their involvement in corruption to grab lands for expansion.

In 2011, EoF estimated that the paper groups Sinar Mas Group and Asia Pulp & Paper (SMG/APP) had cleared more than 2 million hectares of natural forest to produce pulp and paper since its operations started more than 30 years ago. 

Combined with more than half a million hectares of estimated deforestation caused by APRIL of the Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE/APRIL, see Riau HTI concession deforestation: history on the Eyes on the Forest’s interactive map), these pulp and paper giants have been substantially affecting people’s livelihoods, biodiversity as well as the global climate.

SMG/APP and RGE/APRIL have a long history of broken promises to stop deforestation and are both disassociated from the most credible forest certification scheme, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Engaging APP and APRIL

WWF has been engaging with SMG/APP, RGE/APRIL and their stakeholders, including their buyers and investors, since the early 2000s. The goal of this engagement is to make their large-scale clearance of natural forests in Indonesia become something of the past, and get them properly address their deforestation legacies by reversing the negative impacts of their actions on people, biodiversity and the global climate.  Restoring and conserving important forest and peat landscapes, and compensating affected people are some of the measures WWF is pushing forward to reverse those impacts. 

After a long history of deforestation, APP and APRIL finally published “zero deforestation policies” in 2013 (Forest Conservation Policy) and  in 2015 (Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2.0). APP additionally committed to conserve or restore 1 million hectares of forest in Indonesia. However, with both companies having a common history of broken commitments to halt deforestation, these new policies turned out to be another failure. 

Progress with the implementation of these commitments has not been audited by credible independent bodies. NGOs have continued to report on SMG/APP and RGE/APRIL’s continued policy violations as well as the increasing likelihood of more deforestation activities committed by the companies.

WWF believes that FSC certification is the best way to get independent and objective verification of a company’s performance on environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests. However, unfortunately the FSC standard cannot be used to verify the performance of SMG/APP and RGE/APRIL companies, affiliates and their wood suppliers because they remain among a very small number of the most controversial companies in the world FSC disassociated from according to its Policy for Association.

Monitoring on the ground

The lack of robust and independent standards and processes to evaluate the two groups means that independent civil society monitoring by EoF and other NGOs has been crucial. WWF and the local NGOs - Eyes on the Forest coalition, with its Sumatra and Kalimantan networks, and the Anti Forest Mafia Coalition of NGOs have been closely monitoring SMG/APP and RGE/APRIL’s field operations to evaluate the implementation performance of their own public commitments.

The NGOs have also been making additional demands to both companies to fill critical gaps for improving their policies. The findings of the policy investigations and gaps on implementation are published on the Eyes on the Forest website where you can also find a collection of past reports and news on APP and APRIL) as well as an interactive map. Also see WWF publications and advisories. 


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Performance Criteria and Indicators to evaluate APP and APRIL

In the absence of a tool to independently measure and prove their performance, WWF-Indonesia, together with other NGOs which have been monitoring the companies and in consultation with the world’s key private sector actors, developed a new framework of Criteria and Indicators in 2017.

The framework is a tool for corporate buyers of pulp and paper products as well as investors in the sector, NGOs, community groups and others.

It sets specific measurable performance requirements for independently verifying on-the-ground environmental, social and corporate governance performance of both SMG and RGE. 

Orang Rimba di Areal PT. TMA_Heri Doni

© WWF Indonesia

What are WWF´s recommendations to APP and APRIL?

WWF recommends both SMG/APP and RGE/APRIL to meet the Criteria and Indicators which include a re-association with FSC so they, their affiliates and global wood supply partners can have any progress verified and reported by regular, truly independent third-party checks.

For disassociated companies to be eligible to pursue FSC certification and use the FSC logo, they need to implement a roadmap for meeting certain requirements to convince FSC to end their disassociation. WWF-Indonesia is part of a Stakeholder Working Group established by FSC in 2017 to develop a roadmap for APP. The group used WWF´s Criteria & Indicators as a key reference to determine roadmap requirements. However, the roadmap development process was suspended in 2018 following a series of revelations about the lack of commitment by APP to disclose all their associated companies. This to hide their continuing involvement in deforestation and their environmental and social footprint.

The roadmap process will be reinitiated only once APP fully meets all FSC requests from May 2018 to convince FSC and SWG that they are fully committed to the process that aims for FSC to end its disassociation [see Box below]. For APRIL, no road map development is planned yet by FSC as of June 2019. 


The FSC concept of disassociation - extracted from FSC documents

Disassociation is the termination of all existing contractual relationships between FSC and an organization, such as FSC membership or an FSC trademark licensing agreement. Disassociation decisions are taken by the FSC Board of Directors and usually imply that an organization has been found involved in one of the unacceptable activities specified in the FSC Policy for Association. Disassociation leads to the suspension of any FSC certificates and organization may hold, as a valid FSC licensing agreement is a prerequisite for certification. Ending the effectiveness of a disassociation does not mean that any of the previous contractual relationships is resumed or any certificates are reinstated, but that there is no longer an embargo in principle if the organization wishes to do so.

11 May 2020

WWF strongly recommends that companies and financial investors end their business relationships ...

15 Mar 2019

In 2013, Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp & Paper (SMG/APP) committed to halt deforestation under its ...

07 Sep 2018

WWF recommends that companies and financial investors avoid doing business with SMG/APP and its ...

17 Aug 2018

New report: APP and APRIL violate zero-deforestation policies with wood purchases from Djarum Group ...

07 Feb 2018

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), ten NGOs, among ...

19 Jan 2017

NGOs urge APP to stop using drained peatlands for pulpwood plantations.

12 Dec 2016

WWF and local NGOs in the Eyes on the Forest coalition are continuing to monitor RGE's operations.

20 Apr 2016

New report: APP is putting forest and carbon-rich peatlands at risk with new pulp mill.

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