More Forest Greenwashing: Asia Pulp & Paper and Fake Certifications

In the firmament of environmental organizations, the World Wildlife Fund is about as centrist and mainstream as you are going to get.  For many years, it was associated with the sorts of Republicans that Dan highlights in his post below: those who took the “conserve” part of conservative seriously.

That’s why the report it issued yesterday, slamming forest despoiler Asia Pulp & Paper, carries such a wallop.  (One is tempted to say that it is learning from that other WWF). AP&P has entered the US market in a big way, particularly here in southern California.  And it is needs to be stopped.

For a long time, those who follow forest issues have known that AP&P is one of the biggest villains around, not only pursuing unsustainable environmental practices and destroying hundreds of square miles of irreplaceable habitat, but relying on shocking labor practices and human rights violations in order to do it.  When WWF looked into AP&P’s practices, it found:

  • APP has pulped an estimate of almost 5 million acres of Indonesia’s tropical forests since it started paper production there in 1984
  • APP has continued clear cutting forests including elephant, tiger and orangutan habitat despite displaying an environmentally responsible image in the media
  • 86% of the tiger area that APP claims responsibility for conserving is already under protection through Forest Stewardship Council-certified partners
  • APP’s required reporting of greenhouse gas emissions—both from deforestation and the draining of swampy peatlands for agriculture—could be more than 500 times what the company claims
  • An APP wood supplier is clear cutting within the Senepsis Tiger Sanctuary—an area APP claims it protects.

But here’s the kicker: AP&P proudly boasts that much of its forestry is “certified” sustainable.  And it sure is — by the “Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification,” the international body that greenwashers rely on to give them a clean environmental bill of health.  Greenpeace complained to PEFC that AP&P was breaking the rules; PEFC did its job and blandly responded in best Sergeant Shultz fashion.  Now, the dowdy Republicans at WWF have uncovered the scam.  (PEFC is the group that certifies North American greenwasher Sustainable Forestry Initiative).

"I see nothink!"

All of this shows once again why simply saying “certification” is not good enough for wood and wood products.  The only certifier you should trust is the Forest Stewardship Council.  And the read the WWF report.  It might not be good for your stomach, but it is good for the planet.

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Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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