By Mark Wachtler
May 19, 2013. Indonesia. (ONN) Greenpeace and other environmental groups scored two victories last week in their effort to save the world’s rainforests and the endangered animals that call them home. First, the largest paper producer in Indonesia gave in to activist pressure and has announced an end to its deforestation in the country. And then the President of Indonesia extended a moratorium protecting a portion of the nation’s forestlands.
Deforestation in Indonesia. Image courtesy of Greenpeace.
Environmentalists across the globe are praising the two minor victories from Indonesia. But activists stress the word ‘minor’ and insist that in both instances, their job is only half done. For starters, Asia Pulp & Paper – Indonesia’s largest paper producer – is ending its practice of clearing the country’s rainforests for paper pulp. But there is a second paper producer that has thus far refused to stop destroying the nation’s forests.
And while environmental activists are celebrating the Indonesian President’s extension of the moratorium on logging in certain parts of the country, Greenpeace insists that the area protected is too small. Still, the group is celebrating the announcement, but reminding supporters that the protected area needs to be enlarged.
One down, one to go
In an email to supporters last week, Greenpeace Senior Forest Campaigner Amy Moas announced the news. ‘Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) – the largest pulp and paper company in the country – has already committed to end its part in deforestation. Which is huge,’ she happily confirmed, ‘But one company alone is not enough to stop deforestation in Indonesia.’
Moas went on to explain that Indonesia has two major corporate paper companies devastating the country’s rainforests, ‘Momentum is on our side. Together we’ve already convinced one major pulp and paper company in Indonesia to stop its destructive ways. Now it’s time for APRIL to do the same.’
APRIL stands for Asia Pacific Resources International Limited and it controls a section of Indonesia’s forests the size of Yellowstone National Park in the US. Greenpeace takes a critical stance against the corporation, calling it a ‘forest destroyer’. The organization also reemphasizes what’s at stake, including the habitat of endangered animals like the Sumatran Tiger. Indonesian orangutans call the forests home as well.
Amy Moas of Greenpeace warned APRIL executives that if they don’t join APP in ending Indonesia’s deforestation, the grassroots organization will enlist some of the same tactics against them that they used to get Asia Pulp & Paper to capitulate, ‘If the company refuses to make its products rainforest-free, we’re ready to pressure the businesses that sell APRIL products the same way we did with APP.’
Greenpeace is asking supporters to send a message to APRIL asking them to stop their devastating deforestation of Indonesia. Visit the organization’s automated online form to send the paper corporation your personalized message.
Rainforest protection extended
In a separate announcement from Greenpeace, the group acknowledged their victory of securing an extension of Indonesia’s moratorium on tree cutting in a large section of the country’s valuable rainforest. ‘The President of Indonesia has extended the forest moratorium, protecting roughly 20 million acres of forest from the threat of deforestation,’ the announcement read, ‘This was great news, but it does not solve the entire problem because plenty of Indonesia’s forests were left unprotected and deforestation continues to wreak havoc there.’
The report by Greenpeace also explains why the fight to save Indonesia’s rainforest is so important, ‘A shocking 85% of Indonesia’s emissions are from deforestation and peatland clearance, making Indonesia one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet, behind countries such as China and the United States.’
The organization also gives a pat on the back to one country in particular that has stepped up and assisted Indonesia in the effort to save the country’s forests. Showing just how important the issue is, Norway – located on the other side of the planet – has contributed $1 billion to Indonesia’s effort to end its massive deforestation campaign.
Again, while celebrating the news, environmental activists insist they are a long way from their goal. They appreciate the country’s sincere efforts, but warn that there are a number of faults with the current moratorium. Among the problems, they explain, protected forests have been encroached on and seen logging happen within them in violation of the moratorium.
They also claim that maps of the areas vary in accuracy and leave room for loggers to take advantage by cutting protected lands. And that brings them to their most critical complaint, that there is very little law enforcement of the rainforest protections. More action by government authorities is drastically needed to stop those responsible for illegally clearing protected forests.
Still, activists for the world’s rainforests acknowledge that the extension of the moratorium is a victory. But groups like Greenpeace insist they’re not done yet. ‘We’ll continue investigating and publicizing cases of deforestation, the companies responsible and the laws that need strengthening,’ they announced, ‘We’ll remind the President that the path to zero deforestation means more than signing a decree.’
For more information, visit Greenpeace.org.
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