Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Forest Criminal" Asia Pulp & Paper Pledges To Leave Rainforests Alone.

It's no secret that we homo sapiens need oxygen to survive.  I've been alive for 23 years tomorrow (happy birthday to me!), and not once have I thought that life might be more fun if I breathed xenon or krypton.  Noble my ass.

What seems to be a secret to a lot of people - corporations in particular - is that, while we inhale oxygen, we exhale carbon dioxide.  So where is the oxygen coming from?  Wouldn't that make it finite?  Not so!  That's what trees and other plants are here for.  Contrary to popular belief, plants are not here just for us to eat or look at.  They serve a crucial function to all life on earth.

Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen - the opposite of what we do.  It makes sense, then, that we'd want to live in complete, symbiotic harmony with each other, right?  Particularly in a time when poisoning our atmosphere seems to be the cool thing to do.

Unfortunately, the destruction of earth's greatest forests isn't new.  It's been going on for decades, with environmentalists trying desperately to get paper corporations to slow down or stop completely.  By pumping toxins and harmful emissions into the air and cutting down trees by the square mile, we're dealing a double whammy to the planet.

Thankfully, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the third largest paper supplier in the world, has had a change of heart.  Mother Jones has the story:

"...Tuesday, APP and environmental activists came together to announce a new conservation policy that they say will stop the company's destruction of virgin forests forever.

"APP has pledged to develop plantations only on land that is not rainforest or land that has already been cleared—and on February 1, it halted its bulldozers in the pristine forests that are home to species like the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan. The company has also committed to consult with indigenous and local communities on any proposed new plantations. The Forest Trust, a non-profit that works with corporations to instate sustainable forest practices, will monitor the implementation of the new policy.

"The agreement on third-party evaluation is significant, according to Scott Poynton, the executive director of the Forest Trust, which worked with APP to design the new policy. While the company has drawn criticism in the past for not living up to promised environmental changes, Poynton said that this new policy is much stronger than any previous pledges."

This is an enormous victory not just for environmentalists, but for the planet and all of the wondrous life that inhabits it.  Many organizations campaigned against APP, but perhaps the most successful was Greenpeace.  Again from Mother Jones:

"Greenpeace has been campaigning against APP for years, exposing the company's use of illegally logged trees and highlighting the ways in which its deforestation contributes to skyrocketing carbon emissions. Greenpeace and convinced more than 100 companies—including giants like Adidas, Kraft, Staples, and Nestl√©—to stop doing business with APP. One of Greenpeace's campaigns asked Barbie—a Mattel product—to 'break up' with APP, which prompted the toy giant to stop sourcing paper from 'controversial sources.'" 

So, for once, I find myself writing about something positive.  It may not be the biggest of victories, and it may not directly affect us here in America, but it's definitely a start.  Perhaps other companies will follow and set up their own conservation procedures.  Who knows?

What's important is that APP has made a change for the better.  Well done! 

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