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Joint letter on UPM-Kymenne’s cooperation with APRIL

December 20th, 2006

To:
Jussi Pesonen
President & CEO
UPM-Kymmene Oyj                                               

Dear Jussi Pesonen,

UPM-KymmeneWe, the undersigned citizens’ organisations, are deeply concerned about UPM-Kymmene’s on-going supplying of pulp from Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL). APRIL’s operations in Riau Province, Indonesia, are causing irreplaceable destruction of nature and social problems.

UPM has been involved with APRIL nearly ten years. During this time main problems of APRIL’s operations — supplying fibre from natural forests, large-scale conversion of rainforests for pulp plantations, and land disputes — have remained despite both companies’ assertions for improvement.

A prime example of continuous destruction of high conservation value forests by APRIL is the case of Kampar Peninsula. Kampar Peninsula is one of the few remaining, hydrologically intact peat swamp forest landscapes in the world. It still contains over 400 000 ha of rainforest and is important habitat for numerous endangered species, including Sumatran tiger. Local communities in the fringes of the area, including indigenous Akit people, depend on it for their livelihood. WWF and local NGOs have recently proposed the area to be designated as a National Park, founded on community-based conservation. Yet APRIL and its partners have converted 100 000 ha of the area, and plan further conversion of over 200 000 ha. This would almost certainly cause a collapse of hydrology of the whole remaining peat swamp area. As a result, the carbon now stored in the peat would be released to the atmosphere. This would contribute significantly to global warming, since Kampar’s carbon amounts to 70% of current annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuels (1).

While acquiring land for its plantations, APRIL has taken hold tens of thousands of hectares of land claimed by local communities. Recent, unresolved land dispute cases include villages Gading Permai (District Kampar), Lubuk Jering (Siak), and Talang Tujuh Buah Tangga (Indragiri Hulu). Related to the land conflicts, communities have faced violence from the side of APRIL and its subcontractors. Expanding conversion by the company is bound to cause more such cases.

Over the years, APRIL has been supplying wood from legally controversial and outright illegal sources. The most recent example is APRIL’s partner company PT Madukoro, which cleared and converted 4800 ha of peat swamp forests into pulp-wood plantations during 2006. Madukoro’s clearing, situated in Kampar Peninsula, lies within an area designated as protected in the provincial land use plan, and lacks the permit of the Forestry Department.

UPM’s pulp use from APRIL should only continue if certain preconditions are  met. These include free, prior informed consent of local communities facing plantations development, fair resolution mechanism for existing land conflicts, stop to sourcing from legally controversial sources, and halt to conversion of natural forests such as Kampar Peninsula.

Purchasing of pulp from irresponsible producers, such as APRIL, is in conflict with UPM’s own policy statements (“UPM requires that its external suppliers operate according to the principles of sustainable development”, (2)). We urge you to make sure that in future UPM will not source its pulp from operators converting natural forests or causing wide-spread social problems, as outlined in the European Paper Vision (3).

Sincerely,

ARA – Working Group on Rainforests and Biodiversity, Germany
BirdLife International Forest Task Force
Borneo Orangutan Survival International
British Columbia Environmental Network, Canada
Canadian EarthCare Society
Dogwood Alliance, USA
Down to Earth, Indonesia
EnviroJustice, USA
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation / Suomen
Luonnonsuojeluliitto
Finnish Nature League / Luonto-Liitto
Finnish Society for Nature and Environment / Natur och Miljö
Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth Austria / GLOBAL 2000
Friends of the Earth Colombia / Censat Agua Viva
Friends of the Earth Costa Rica / COECOCeiba
Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Friends of the Earth Finland
Friends of the Earth Indonesia / WALHI
Friends of the Earth International Forest Program
Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie
Friends of the Earth Norway
Friends of the Earth Paraguay / SOBREVIVENCIA
Global Forest Coalition
Green Press Initiative, USA
Greenpeace International
ICTI – Tanimbar, Indonesia
Jikalahari, Indonesia
Pro REGENWALD, Germany
Robin Wood, Germany
SKEPHI, Indonesia
Urgewald, Germany
Virginia Forest Watch, USA
WALHI Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia
WALHI Riau, Indonesia
Watch Indonesia!, Germany
Worldforests, Scotland
World Rainforest Movement

 

(1) Amount of carbon stored in peat deposits of Kampar Peninsula are estimated to be about 4.5 Gt. – Hooijer, A. 2005: Hydrological assessment
of forest plantation impacts on tropical forested peatlands; Kampar Peninsula, Sumatra, Indonesia – Technical Report Q3975, WL | Delft Hydraulics.

(2) Quote under “Sustainable Forestry Minisite”, http://www.upm-kymmene.com

(3) European Paper Vision, http://www.taigarescue.org/paper

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