Stop APRIL, Indonesia’s ruthless paper and pulp giant!

Orangutan mother and infant APRIL and its affiliates are destroying orangutan habitat (© Istockphoto) Aerial view of TPL eucalyptus plantations encroaching on rainforest Turning rainforest into disposable cardboard: Toba Pulp Lestari in Sumatra (© Hengky Manalu) Photographer and protesters with a green banner No to white paper from dirty, polluting factories (© KSPPM) Left: clearing for paper industry; right: rainforest Orangutans facing extinction: deforestation by PT Mayawana Persada in Borneo (© Auriga Nusantara) Aerial view of pulp mill construction site Building site in a mangrove forest: PT Phoenix Resources International pulp mill (© Green of Borneo) A man walking through cleared land Raw material for the paper mills will soon be coming from Papua's forests (© Pusaka)

The paper giant APRIL/Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) and other companies owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto have been destroying the Indonesia's rainforests and the livelihoods of local communities for half a century. We call on banks, investors and business partners to end their business ties with APRIL and RGE.

Call to action

To: banks, investors, customers of APRIL / RGE

“Indonesian paper giant APRIL/RGE must stop destroying rainforests and the livelihoods of local communities. Divest and stop doing business with APRIL/RGE!”

Read letter

Demand for paper, packaging and pulp is exploding – with devastating consequences for the world’s forests. The paper and pulp industry is cutting down rainforests and stealing land from Indigenous communities. Our use of paper has become the most powerful driver of rainforest deforestation and a cause of land grabs, displacement and violence.

One of the world’s largest and most notorious corporations is back in the headlines: APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources Limited).

In Sumatra, an Indigenous elder was abducted for resisting a company linked to APRIL/RGE.

In Borneo, in the province of West Kalimantan, a company affiliated with RGE is logging the rainforest that is home to a large population of orangutans.

Also in Borneo, in the province of North Kalimantan, a mega pulp mill is being built in the mangrove forest that is home to the iconic proboscis monkeys. The sheer size of the mill represents an aggressive assault on Borneo’s last forests.

APRIL, a producer of pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and viscose, is part of the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) holding company.

Since 2015, RGE claims to be committed to a zero-deforestation supply chain. But the reality on the ground is different!

Environmental organizations in Indonesia are demanding that the authorities finally stop the destruction and violence. International groups are calling on banks to cut all ties to deforestation.

Please sign our petition and tell corporations and investors to divest from APRIL/RGE and deforestation!

Start of petition: 23/05/2024

Back­ground

Unnoticed by the general public, producers of packaging, paper, pulp and viscose are expanding worldwide. Indonesian companies, which are among the largest global players, are largely responsible for the destruction of the lowland forests of Sumatra and thus for the alarming decimation of Sumatran tiger and orangutan populations. In recent years, the Indonesian paper industry has increased its production by almost half. And it continues to expand.

The huge increase in demand for wood as a raw material for the new paper mills is leading to a new wave of deforestation and poses an acute threat to the rainforests!

The Wijaya family's Sinar Mas with its pulp producer APP (Asia Pulp and Paper) and Sukanto Tanoto's Royal Golden Eagle with its pulp arm APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited) are the first and second largest pulp producers in Indonesia and top the list of destroyers of the Indonesian rainforest, ahead of Korindo (timber and palm oil) and Sumitomo (mining).

 

Ongoing deforestation by PT Mayawana Persada

Rainforest Rescue has previously reported on the swift and brutal deforestation of orangutan habitat in the province of West Kalimantan, Borneo by PT Mayawana Persada. Borneo's orangutans can only survive if the destruction is stopped immediately.

On paper, PT Mayawana Persada is controlled by a chain of holding companies. However, overlaps in corporate governance, operational management and supply chain connections show that PT Mayawana Persada is linked to RGE and APRIL.

The study Deforestation Anonymous. Rainforest destruction and social conflict driven by PT Mayawana Persada in Indonesian Borneo provides a detailed account of the massive deforestation in PT Mayawana Persada's concession, the destruction of the habitats of protected species (orangutans, gibbons, sun bears and others) and social conflict with Indigenous communities. The report is based on satellite imagery, supply chain tracking, interviews with Mayawana employees and analysis of company documents. The study concludes that Mayawana has already cleared 35,000 hectares of rainforest and peat swamp, an area roughly half the size of Singapore.

The conflict of the Indigenous Batak with PT Toba Pulp Lestari

 

The decades-long conflict between the APRIL-affiliated pulp company Toba Pulp Lestari and the Batak people of North Sumatra province has culminated in the criminalization of the indigenous elder Sorbatua Siallagan. See also EPN: Another Indigenous Leader Jailed for Protecting Ancestral Land In Indonesia.

Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) began producing pulp for paper and viscose fiber (rayon) for textiles in 1989 under the name Indorayon, using tropical wood from the rainforest. New eucalyptus plantations will encroach on the forest of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan.

Pollution of Lake Toba, environmental degradation, land grabs and violence led to strong resistance from the beginning. But half a century of land conflicts remain unresolved, and the local people have been repeatedly criminalized.

 

According to the 2019 report mapping social conflicts in APRIL conflict plantations, civil society groups have documented at least 101 acute conflicts in APRIL and its suppliers' concessions. The study calls on buyers and investors to avoid doing business with APRIL and RGE until the conflicts are resolved in a transparent and participatory manner.

The PT Phoenix Resources International Pulp Mill

 

PT Phoenix Resources International, another company controlled by APRIL/RGE, is building another huge pulp mill in the province of North Kalimantan amid mangrove forests and the habitat of the endangered proboscis monkey.

The report Pulping Borneo highlights the risks of expanding pulp production to Borneo. Borneo is already the source of wood for Sumatra's large pulp mills. The expected explosion in demand from the new mills will put Borneo's remaining rainforest under massive threat.

Pulping Borneo also contains valuable information about Sukanto Tanoto's business empire, Royal Golden Eagle, including the links between each company and its suppliers, shareholders and investors.

Systematic environmental destruction, conflict and lack of transparency

These cases are not unique. Civil society groups have regularly investigated and published information on serious social, environmental and governance issues related to RGE.

Campaigns by environmental groups, negotiations and promises by APRIL/RGE have not resulted in improvements, despite RGE’s public commitment to a “zero deforestation” policy in 2015.

The reports include:

An investigation in 2017 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showing how APRIL used shell companies to obtain at least $3 billion in bank loans and shuffled the money between its subsidiaries while minimizing its tax bills,

A briefing in 2018 showing how APRIL violates its own zero-deforestation policy, 

Conflict Plantations (2019) exposing APRIL’s trail of social conflict across Indonesia,

Research in 2020 showing how APRIL misclassified exports to reduce its tax bill in Indonesia,

A briefing in 2020 showing that APRIL continued to destroy peatlands and natural rainforests during the pandemic,

Another briefing in 2020 on deforestation by PT Adindo Hutani Lestari, a company linked to APRIL.

For a more comprehensive list, see the BankTrack Dodgy Deal profiles on APRIL, the Phoenix Pulp Mill and RGE. Under “Resources”, “News” and “Updates” you will find detailed information on the group’s social, environmental and governance issues. 

The above list shows a clear pattern of APRIL/RGE and affiliated companies causing severe environmental and community impacts while benefiting from complex and opaque corporate structures that allow the group to avoid accountability. 

Years of negotiations between major environmental organizations and APRIL have failed to change the company’s practices. Investors and purchasers should therefore avoid doing business with APRIL/RGE.

 

The business empire of Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL and RGE

APRIL is part of the RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) conglomerate, the business empire of Sukanto Tanoto, one Indonesia's richest men. RGE is active in the following sectors: pulp and paper, palm oil, viscose, construction and energy, real estate and asset management.

RGE's palm oil and energy sectors are of global significance. The palm oil sector is covered by the Asian Agri and Apical groups: Asian Agri is one of the largest palm oil producers with numerous plantations and oil mills. Apical operates refineries, processing plants, a biodiesel plant and the export of palm oil. In Canada, RGE has entered the gas exploration and production business with the acquisition of Pacific Energy.

RGE’s pulp, paper and viscose sectors are the mainstays of the Sukanto Tanoto empire. In response to growing global consumption, APRIL/RGE is expanding or already established in Indonesia, China, Europe and Latin America. Companies directly linked to APRIL can be found in Brazil, Macau, China and Singapore, among others.

APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited): one of the world's largest pulp companies, producing paper, pulp and viscose in several large plants. The RAPP paper mill in the province of Riau on Sumatra is one of the largest in the world

Asia Symbol: the world's largest pulp, paper and packaging manufacturer in Shandong, China

Bracell: one of the largest pulp producers, Brazil

Sateri: the largest viscose producer in China

Asia Pacific Rayon: viscose production in Riau, Indonesia

Letter

To: banks, investors, customers of APRIL / RGE

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am appalled by the destruction of the rainforest and the massive conflicts caused by the Indonesian pulp and paper company APRIL.

Your companies have business relationships with APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited) and/or its parent company RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) as investors or customers.

APRIL/RGE, notorious for decades of rainforest destruction and conflict, is currently in the news again:

An APRIL-affiliated company is logging virgin forest in Borneo, West Kalimantan province, home to a large population of orangutans.

In Sumatra, an Indigenous leader was kidnapped and arrested for opposing another APRIL-linked company.

Also in Borneo, North Kalimantan province, a mega pulp mill is being built in the mangrove forest that is home to the iconic proboscis monkeys. The sheer size of the mill amounts to an aggressive assault on Borneo’s last forests.

Environmental organizations in Indonesia are calling on the authorities to stop the destruction and violence!

International organizations are calling on banks, investors and customers not to do business with APRIL/RGE, its subsidiaries and suppliers until radical improvements are made throughout the production chain. I support these demands:

- Immediately freeze financial payments to APRIL/RGE and companies associated with APRIL/RGE.

- Pressure APRIL/RGE and associated companies to stop deforestation immediately.

- Actively participate in the repair of social and environmental damage.

- Stop doing business with APRIL/RGE!

Accept your responsibility to preserve the rainforests, which are irreplaceable for biodiversity, climate and life on Earth. Do not support violence against Indigenous communities who have proven to be the best stewards of the rainforest.

Yours faithfully,

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