An official report has concluded that Indonesian paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) did damage protected forests in the southern island province of Hainan, but only inadvertently, according to the Beijing News yesterday.
The report by the forestry administration in the provincial capital Haikou said APP had unintentionally destroyed parts of natural forests and had submitted a written promise to abide by the law and provide regular reports on its operations.
The document said APP projects do not necessarily damage protected forests and that cases of their destruction were not common.
A local forestry administration report in February on illegal logging in the southwestern province of Yunnan that blamed local farmers was discredited by the State Forestry Administration on March 30, which said APP and local governments had been behind it.
An APP subsidiary started operations at its Jinhai plant on Hainan in January, boosting production capacity from 600,000 to 1 million tons of pulp per year on March 28. At that time Wang Rusong, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' ecological research center, said it had not undergone a legally-required environmental impact assessment. The provincial government denied that APP had caused any pollution or deterioration of resources.
On March 17, Beijing News had reported that native trees along over 19,400 km of Hainan's roads had already been felled by APP to be replaced with eucalyptus, degrading soil quality and adversely affecting biodiversity. It noted that 80 percent of the provincial government's inward investment had come from APP the previous year.
After investigations in March and April, Greenpeace accused APP on May 26 of threatening local Hainan forests by replacing native trees with eucalyptus to supply the pulp plant, a charge APP denied.
Greenpeace China yesterday released a statement welcoming APP's promise, but campaigner Zhong Yu said, "It is yet to be seen whether APP can keep its word."
Boycotts of APP products have been called for by hotels, students and consumers since last November in response to allegations that the company has been destroying China's natural forests.
(China Daily August 5, 2005)