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APP to Suspend Natural Forest Clearance

Asia Pulp & Paper is suspending natural forest clearance on its own pulpwood plantations in Indonesia, effective June 1, as part of a new commitment to international standards on High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF).

APP, which is the world’s third largest paper supplier, will ask its independent suppliers to abide by the new principles – or face a review of their business relationship.

APP will stop natural forest clearance at its own concessions in Indonesia while HCVF assessments are conducted. APP’s suppliers will have until December 2014 to comply with the HCVF guidelines.

According to The Wall Street Journal, APP has concessions to harvest 1 million hectares of forest land, and its suppliers control 1.5 million hectares of forest land.

The commitment has been welcomed by the Indonesian government and the Indonesian chapter of the United Nations Global Compact Network, according to the paper company.

Greenpeace has said that, while it backs the announcement, if APP is serious it should stop all natural forest clearance permanently, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s hard to believe this will become a breakthrough,” Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s forest campaign in Indonesia, told the Journal.

Last week, The Guardian reported that Lord Mandelson, a prominent figure in the UK’s Labour governments of recent years, had started advising APP on how to meet new EU regulations on paper imported from Indonesia.

Global Counsel – the political consultancy that Mandelson chairs – confirmed to the paper that it had a contract with APP. This is the first time the consultancy has revealed any of its clients’ names.

In April, a host of companies including Danone and Xerox pledged to suspend purchases from APP following a Greenpeace exposé on the paper company’s practices. The report, the result of a year-long investigation into APP, alleged that that the company is systematically violating Indonesia’s laws protecting ramin, an internationally protected tree species. Ramin was found on numerous occasions in the logyards of APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill, waiting to be pulped, according to Greenpeace.

In February, Kmart, Kroger, Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter, Supervalu, Weis Markets, Brookshire Grocery Company and Delhaize Group, the owner of Food Lion, all decided to stop carrying tissue products made with fiber from the company, after the World Wildlife Fund alleged that APP’s practices were destroying Indonesian rain forests and tiger habitats.

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