Greenpeace China said on Thursday that it has new evidence of illegal logging and widespread forest destruction in southwest China's Yunnan Province by Indonesian multinational Asia Pulp & Paper Co. (APP).
The environmental rights group is appealing for Chinese consumers to refrain from using APP paper products for the sake of the dwindling forests in the country.
On November 16, Greenpeace published its "Investigative Report on APP's Forest Destruction in Yunnan" and presented a list of six demands to the company, including calls for an immediate moratorium on logging, a public apology and respect for the rights of the local communities.
Eight days later, APP responded to the report, denying the allegations and calling Greenpeace's claims irresponsible. Greenpeace quotes APP Vice President Ke Xiang-sen as saying to reporters, "the APP operation in China had never logged any natural forest." The company did not reply to the demands.
In response, Greenpeace reopened its investigation and obtained videotapes, photographs, statements from local residents and other documents that it believes are proof of APP's extensive logging of old-growth natural forest areas.
Greenpeace China invited APP to sue the organization if the company believes it has been defamed.
APP has filed a lawsuit against the Zhejiang Hotels Association for calling on its members to boycott APP products. Du Juexiang, deputy secretary general of the Zhejiang Hotels Association, said on Thursday that it had done so to protect the environment.
Local farmers shown in the Greenpeace video say that APP cut down large forest areas and planted non-native, fast-growing eucalyptus trees, which the company uses to produce paper and pulp.
The farmers, living in rural areas of Simao, say their land has been requisitioned at a price as low as 0.8 yuan (10 US cents) per mu (0.06 hectare) per year. This is lower than that for desert land in Inner Mongolia, which fetches 1.0 yuan per mu, according to Liu Bing, Greenpeace China's forestry project deputy director.
The farmers also state that they have not yet received their money, although contracts were signed last December.
APP began its operations in August 2002 after having signed a deal with the Yunnan provincial government to plant forests on barren land. The project involves 1.8 million hectares in the Wenshan, Lincang and Simao areas. According to Greenpeace's November report, 42 percent of the area is natural forest.
Greenpeace filed an official report with the State Administration of Forestry on what it believes are the illegalities involved in this project in mid-November. Chinese law requires related agencies to reply within 60 days.
The organization is also contacting other international environmental organizations to push for an international campaign against the Indonesian company, said Greenpeace China Campaign Director Lu Sicheng.
APP China sources could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
APP products, which range from office paper to toilet paper, occupy a large share of the Chinese market. The company and its China branch are members of the Sinar Mas Group.
(China.org.cn, China Daily December 17, 2004)