Paper Cuts : the bloody tale of deforestation
By Chen Shu Xuan
On the edges of the large white canvasses you can see clearly the bloodstains. As if someone has cut their finger on them. Only a closer look reveals these bloodstains as wounded animals. The “Paper Cut Life” art exhibition is designed to spread an important message: paper production leads to deforestation, and thus destroys the habitats of many different species of animals.
Greenpeace has a firm commitment to protecting the remaining native forest as well the natural habitats of all the different species on this planet. Paper is the prime culprit of deforestation and thus is an important aspect of forest protection work.
In 2004, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) was linked to deforestation in Yunnan. Since then Greenpeace has been engaged in a long struggle against APP in China. Over the last nine years, we have investigated and exposed evidence of APP’s deforestation, including in Yunnan and Hainan. Over the course of these past nine years we have put pressure on APP by actively discouraging many international companies, brands and banking institutions from doing business with the paper giant.
In this, the ninth year of our struggle, Greenpeace has finally succeeded in forcing APP to admit its wrongdoing and make positive changes. At the beginning of this year, APP announced its new “Forest Conservation Policy.” It has promised that from February 1, the company will stop any work in Indonesia that affects natural forests. To ensure they make good on their promise, Greenpeace along with other international organizations, and one Indonesian NGO, have continued to work with and supervise APP in order to help consolidate and implement their policies.
Over the past 10 years, 4.2 million hectares of rainforest in Indonesia have been flattened. Only 4% of the felled forests were artificially grown for the purpose of paper production. APP along with another paper making giant called APRIL (Royal Golden Eagle Group’s Asia Pacific Resources International) have both contributed to the destruction of the natural habitats of many species.
When APP made its ‘Forest Conservation’ promise in February, it stood as a beacon of hope for all endangered wildlife living in the Indonesian tropical rainforest. But there is still a long way to go before the rainforests are completely in the clear.
APRIL is Indonesia’s second largest paper making company. APRIL and APP together make up 80% of Indonesia’s paper industry. When APP finally drafted their ‘Forest Conservation Policy’, APRIL refused to alter their practice of destroying tropical forests. Every year, APRIL and their suppliers destroy on average 600,000 hectares of forest.
Recently, a large forest fire broke out in Sumatra affecting both Singapore and Malaysia, covering the two neighboring countries in a haze. APRIL, along with other enterprises, publicly criticized illegal forest burning and denied their involvement. The company also named villagers and small-scale farms as the instigators of the fires, an example of them passing the blame onto powerless groups.
Merely relying on enterprises to secure forest conservation is not enough. The entire model of industrial production needs to be changed. Only once we implement a policy of “zero deforestation”, can we truly protect the now endangered Indonesian rainforest. Greenpeace has been calling on APRIL to adopt a sustainable forestation management policy as soon as possible. This includes eliminating deforestation throughout the entire supply chain. At the same time, there have been appeals for consumers to boycott all APRIL products.
Consumers are important participants in the struggle for forest conservation. In the past few years Greenpeace have attempted a number of methods to encourage green lifestyles and green thinking among consumers. The “Paper Cuts Life” art exhibition was made in cooperation with Saatchi and was recently awarded the “Bronze Lion” at Cannes. We hope this campaign will help the public understand the link between paper and deforestation. And encourage everyone to commit to this important cause.