Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry: Helping the poor or helping itself?
Giant Dipterocarp tree in Gunung Leuser National Park, North Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler in 2009
Over the past several years, Asia Pulp & Paper has engaged in a marketing campaign to represent its operations in Sumatra as socially and environmentally sustainable. APP and its agents maintain that industrial pulp and paper production — as practiced in Sumatra — does not result in deforestation, is carbon neutral, helps protect wildlife, and alleviates poverty [see APP documents]. While a series of analyses and reports have shown most of these assertions to be false, the final claim has largely not been contested. But does conversion of lowland rainforests for pulp and paper really alleviate poverty in Indonesia?