Three Indonesian forest activists are traveling across Europe to explain the impacts of paper production in Indonesia. The delegation is touring nine European cities in November, meeting customers of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and other Indonesian paper companies, potential investors, paper industry companies, government officials, journalists, environmental campaigners and the general public. Member organisations from across the European Environmental Paper Network are collaborating to organise the tour.

 

The three Indonesians are Hariansyah Usman from WALHI in Riau, Aidil Fitri from Yayasan Wahana Bumi Hijau in South Sumatra, and Muslim, co-ordinator of Jikalahari, from Riau. All three will be educating the people they meet about what Indonesian paper production is like on the ground, and what impacts it has on the forests and local communities of Sumatra.

 

 

A Sumatran indigenous leader stands beside his community’s forest land, lost to pulp production

In order to supply their pulp mills, Indonesian paper companies have resorted to landgrabbing, by obtaining the use of land without the free, prior and informed consent of all affected communities. Despite paper company assurances that they respect local people’s rights, in fact thousands of Indonesian communities are now living beside pulp plantations without having had the opportunity to have their say in how the land should be utilised. Too often they have been deprived of a vital source of food, fibre, medicine, timber, firewood or cash crops.

 

Loss of natural forest also has devastating impacts on wildlife and biodiversity, including endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros and orang-utan. In addition, timber extraction on Sumatra’s deep peat soils causes alarming levels of carbon emissions.

 

The visiting delegation hopes to raise concerns about plans by the Indonesian pulp industry to increase its pulp mill capacity, thus putting even more pressure on communities and forests. Each new pulp mill would mean decades of destruction. European investors and paper companies must avoid being responsible for such a future.

 

The Indonesians’ schedule will be as follows:

 

10 November, Berlin

11-13 November, London

13-15 November, Brussels

15-17 November, Barcelona

17-20 November, Rome

20-22 November, Vienna

22-25 November, Dusseldorf

25-28 November, Helsinki

28 November, Zurich

29 November, Geneva

 

The EEPN is delighted to be hosting this tour, thanks to financial support from the Grassroots Foundation, Siemenpuu Foundation, JMG Foundation and our member organisations.  It is part of our Indonesian Forests campaign.