Rhett Butler, the one-man rainforest crusader behind the site mongabay.com has written an essay that takes to task the idea that forest-depleting paper companies in Indonesia--specifically Asia Pulp & Paper--are "carbon neutral" and help to alleviate poverty. The truth, writes Butler, is that APP has "cleared more than one million hectares of natural forests in Riau and Jambi provinces alone, making it responsible for more forest loss than any other company operating in Sumatra." Both APP and the company Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings engage in widespread deforestation, but rather than move to more sustainable practices, they've tried to use marketing to save their public image.
APP, the third largest pulp and paper producer in the world, once named the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Rainforest Alliance as partners, environmental groups that hoped to gain access to APP's activities, including illegal logging, building roads through the Kampar peninsula (an extremely important peat swamp forest in terms of carbon storage) and threatening the lives and habitat of the endangered Sumatran tiger and Sumatran orangutans.
But when APP allowed little access or oversight to these groups, the nonprofits cut ties. The company responded with a PR campaign to identify itself as a "green" company, claiming that "APP is absolutely committed to the...