Mongabay.com is considered a leading source of information on tropical forests by some of the world's top ecologists and conservationists. TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: Imperiled Riches - Threatened Rainforests
Acacia plantation in Borneo
Acacia plantation in Borneo. The impact of paper production on forests can be substantial. (Photo by R. Butler)

PAPER and RAINFORESTS

By Rhett Butler   |  Last updated July 27, 2012

Vast swatches of rainforest have been chopped down to supply the pulp and paper industry. Typically valuable trees are harvested first. The forest is then leveled with remaining trees sent to a mill where they are chipped into pulp, which is either exported or turned into paper. The cleared land is then planted with eucalyptus or acacia, which is harvested on a 6-8 year cycle. When timber prices are high, a pulp and paper company may sell the tree trunks for timber and only use the branches and other fiber for pulp.

Since the mid-1990s the majority of deforestation for pulp and paper production in the tropics has occurred in Indonesia, primarily on the island of Sumatra. In fact, the pulp and paper industry is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in Indonesia, accounting for roughly 20 percent of deforestation in the 2000s and 50 percent of peatlands conversion. Due to the high rates of peat conversion for plantations, the pulp and paper sector was estimated in 2009 to generate more than 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, more than 70 percent of which result from peat. Among major commodities, pulp and paper has the highest emissions per dollar of of commodity produced — higher than conversion of peatlands for oil palm or rainforest conversion for soy or cattle ranching.

Two major companies account for 80 percent of Indonesia's pulp and paper production: Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) [owned by the multinational Sinar Mas conglomerate] and Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) [owned by the Singapore-based Royal Golden Eagle Group]. Both have been heavily criticized by environmentalists and conservation scientists for their forest management practices. Both have also been accused of greenwashing their image, claiming their operations do little harm to the environment. APP has even backed astroturf groups — fake organizations set up to support a corporation's messaging strategy — in Canada and the United States to go after environmental groups that have criticized it and companies that have stopped buying its products.

Eyes of the Forest, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs, estimates that APP and APRIL cleared 2 million hectares of natural forests in Riau, accounting for nearly half the Sumatran province's recent forest loss.

Paper products sold by APP and APRIL are available in markets around the world. However since 2009, Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and WWF have waged a campaign against companies that source paper, cardboard and other products from these companies, especially in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Dozens of corporations have since stopped buying from APP and APRIL.


+ More information on rainforest logging


    Display articles >>







Review questions:

  • Why can selective logging be destructive in the rainforest?
  • What is the hunting of wild animals for food called?
  • What is greenwash?



Continued / Next:

Mining in the Rainforest





Other pages in this section:

A World Imperilled
Threats from Humankind
Economic Restructuring
Logging
Fires
Commercial Agriculture
Hydro, Pollution, Hunting
Debt
Consumption, Conclusion
- - - - -
References
References
References
References
References
Natural forces
Subsistence Activities
Oil Extraction
Mining
War
Cattle Pasture
Fuelwood, Roads, Climate
Population & Poverty

- - - - -
Kids version of this section
- Why are rainforests disappearing?
- Logging
- Agriculture
- Cattle
- Roads
- Poverty


Selection of information sources






For kids

Tour: the Amazon

Rainforest news

Tour: Indonesia's rainforests

 Home
 What's New
 About
 Rainforests
   Mission
   Introduction
   Characteristics
   Biodiversity
   The Canopy
   Forest Floor
   Forest Waters
   Indigenous People
   Deforestation
   Consequences
   Saving Rainforests
   Amazon
   Borneo
   Congo
   New Guinea
   Sulawesi
   REDD
   Country Profiles
   Statistics
   Works Cited
   For Kids
   For Teachers
   Photos/Images
   Expert Interviews
   Rainforest News
  Forest data
   Global deforestation
   Tropical deforestation
   By country
   Deforestation charts
   Regional forest data
   Deforestation drivers
 XML Feeds
 Pictures
 Books
 Education
 Newsletter
 Contact

Nature Blog Network



 CONTENTS
Rainforests
Tropical Fish
News
Madagascar
Pictures
Kids' Site
Languages
TCS Journal
About
Archives
Topics | RSS
Newsletter




 Other languages
Arabic
Bengali
Chinese (CN) (expanded)
Chinese (TW)
Croatian
Danish
Dutch
Farsi
French (expanded)
German (expanded)
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Indonesian
Italian
Japanese (expanded)
Javanese
Korean
Malagasy
Malay
Marathi
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese (expanded)
Russian
Slovak
Spanish (expanded)
Swahili
Swedish
Ukrainian



 WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
 Email:


 INTERACT
Facebook
Twitter
Contact
Help
Photo store
Mongabay gear




Recent news




More rainforest news



what's new | rainforests home | for kids | help | madagascar | search | about | languages | contact

Copyright Rhett Butler 1994-2013

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from mongabay.com operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect,
an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region.
Anthrotect is protecting the habitat of mongabay's mascot: the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.

"Rainforest" is used interchangeably with "rain forest" on this site. "Jungle" is generally not used.