Pulp and Paper

  • What are industrial tree plantations?

    Industrial tree plantations (ITP) are typically large-scale monoculture plantations of trees grown and harvested for production of pulp and paper. Trees such as eucalyptus and acacia are planted far beyond their natural reach due to their productivity, fast rate of growth and tolerance of degraded soils. Timber harvested from these plantations is widely used as fuel and construction material as well as in production of paper and fabrics such as rayon.

    The development of ITPs is being eagerly promoted in countries of global South, with China, Indonesia and Brazil now being amongst the world leaders in production of pulp and paper.

    Problem with ITP

    There are relatively few instances where ITPs have been planted on degraded lands. In fact, ITPs are one of the major causes of deforestation, where monocultures of eucalyptus or acacia replace old-growth rainforests. Such major changes in land use have significant environmental and social impacts. Developments of large-scale plantations lead, amongst other things, to increase in greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity as well as negative consequences to local economies, livelihoods and cultures of forest dependent peoples.

    Native forests play a crucial role in sustaining indigenous populations, whole livelihoods depend on them. Forests are a source of food, building material, medicine and plants of religious significance, and as such are at the core of indigenous economy and culture. Replacing rainforests with plantations threatens survival of forest dependent people.
    This is particularly true for pulp and paper industry, where net income communities gain from the plantation is often lower than in other industries (for instance oil palm or rubber).

    More and more frequently, as communities resist ITP expansion, conflicts over land access erupt in indigenous areas, with many human rights violations being reported.

    Focus on Indonesia

    Indonesia continues to be one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases from land use change in the world. Many analysts believe that the Government of Indonesia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land use and land use change may rely in part ‘on large-scale reforestation primarily through a reforestation rather than a deforestation reduction approach’ (CIFOR). Much of this reforestation would take place through industrial tree-crop plantations. The government’s targets over the next 5-10 years include 10 million hectares of new ITP plantations. Much of this expansion is centred on carbon rich landscapes (natural forests and/or peatlands) in Riau, Jambi, East, West, South and Central Kalimantan and Papua.
    These policies are likely to lead to further forest conversion and huge greenhouse gas emissions. According to CIFOR, ‘attempts to achieve significant emissions reductions through a plantation expansion programme alone would not be feasible’. The economic case for the country is also far from proven. In an interview with LifeMosaic, Dr. Rizaldi Boer stated: “We are faced with choices. Is it profitable to clear the peatlands? If we look at emissions, 50% of Indonesia's emissions come from peatlands. But the contribution of clearing peatlands to Indonesia's economy is less than 1%. That is not worth it. In my opinion, it is not profitable.”

    Our project

    In 2012 LifeMosaic produced a film for indigenous and local communities about the expansion of ITPs. Behind the Page presents an analysis of the impacts of pulp and paper plantations on communities, helping the audience to analyse whether acceptance of these developments in their area would be in their best interests. The film informs communities about the international demand which sustains the industry; the impacts of large-scale pulp and paper plantations on land rights, water pollution and local economies as well as the global impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from the industry on climate change.

    The film is currently being distributed to communities in areas where plantation developments are expanding as well as to environmental and indigenous NGOs, campaigners, university students and policy makers. It is also available to watch and download (part 1 and part 2) on our website.


    At the start of 2013, together with North Sumatran NGO KSPPM and communities of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta, we produced a two-part case study film focusing on the struggle of the indigenous communities of Pandumaan and Sipituhuta villages to defend their ancestral forest from industrial tree plantation expansion plans. Don't Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: A David and Goliath Tale and Don't Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: An Update tell a story of communities who have lived and worked on their lands for 13 generations and who are now facing the prospect of losing their forest.

    The advocacy films have been a part of an international campaign by Rainforest Action Network, Intercontinental Cry, Forest Peoples Programme and many others in defence of the communities’ rights to their land.

  • Behind the Page - Part 1

    Behind the Page - Part 1

    Behind the Page (Di Balik Kertas) is a 2 part film about industrial timber plantations (HTI) in Indonesia. The film is designed to be used by local facilitators and communities whose lands are in or near existing HTI permit areas, or in areas where new permits for mills or HTI plantations will be allocated. The film is based on the voices of people from 8 communities in Papua, North Sumatra, Riau and Jambi, which have lost part or all of their ancestral land to HTI. How has this change impacted their community economies, their water, culture, food security and land rights? And how are they organising themselves to face these challenges? (LifeMosaic, 2012)

    Behind the Page - Part 2

    Behind the Page - Part 2

    This is part 2 of a 2 part film about industrial timber plantations (HTI) in Indonesia. The film is designed to be used by local facilitators and communities whose lands are in or near existing HTI permit areas, or in areas where new permits for mills or HTI plantations will be allocated. This film looks at strategies and tactics that communities are using to defend their rights when facing Industrial Tree Plantations. There are many examples where communities have been successful in getting what they want for the future of their land. Some communities may want to negotiate with the company specifying which areas of community land the company can use, and which areas it must leave alone. Other communties may chose to refuse mills or plantations on their lands altogether, and others may wish to regain their lands from a HTI concession that is already established. For any of these situations it is essential that a community is well organised, well informed and united in order to make wise decisions and effective strategies for their futures. (LifeMosaic, 2012)

    Don’t Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: A David and Goliath Tale

    Don’t Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: A David and Goliath Tale

    The pulp and paper industry is growing all over Indonesia. The Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) company, is expanding its eucalyptus plantations on the lands of the indigenous communities of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta in North Sumatra. The communities have lived and worked on their lands for 13 generations. They are peacefully resisting to defend their forests and their livelihoods. But their defence of their lands comes at a heavy cost as they are criminalised. Please stand together with this community at the front-line of the global land grab that is putting profit ahead of rights. (Pandumaan-Sipituhuta / KSPPM / LifeMosaic, 2013)

    Don’t Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: An Update

    Don’t Pulp Pandumaan-Sipituhuta: An Update

    The pulp and paper industry is growing all over Indonesia. The Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) company, is expanding its eucalyptus plantations on the lands of the indigenous communities of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta in North Sumatra. The communities have lived and worked on their lands for 13 generations. They are peacefully resisting to defend their forests and their livelihoods. But their defence of their lands comes at a heavy cost as they are criminalised. Please stand together with this community at the front-line of the global land grab that is putting profit ahead of rights. (Pandumaan-Sipituhuta / KSPPM / LifeMosaic, 2013)

    Eyes on the Kampar Peninsula

    Eyes on the Kampar Peninsula

    The Kampar Peninsula is 700,000 hectares of peatland up to 15 metres deep, on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. The peat contains more than 2 billion tonnes of carbon. 400,000 hectares of forest remain standing, 300,000 hectares have been converted to oil palm and pulp and paper plantations. All eyes are on the Kampar: loggers, carbon traders, and plantation companies including the giant RAPP pulpwood planter. But where does this leave the Akit and Melayu indigenous peoples who inhabit the peninsula? This film tells the human story behind one of the biggest carbon stores in the world. (LifeMosaic, 2009)

  • Pulp and Paper News

    Rainforest Action Network launches a tool uncovering bank financing of forest destruction

    Our friends at RAN have launched an excellent tool see what the biggest banks are really funding in palm oil, pulp and paper, timber and rubber companies.

    Upcoming Asia Pulp & Paper pulp mill ‘will guzzle timber’

    Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper is building one of the world's largest pulp mills in South Sumatra province, which it says will boost Indonesia's economy and also showcase its commitment to environmentally friendly policies. But NGOs fear the mill will lead to more deforestation and cause more fires (David Fogarty / The Straits Times).

    Police investigate villager’s murder in pulp and paper concession

    Indonesian police are investigating the brutal killing of a villager in Jambi at the hands of security guards contracted by Wira Karya Sakti (WKS), a plantation company owned by forestry giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). APP quickly condemned the murder and said it is cooperating with the investigation. (Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay.com)

    Indonesian Hearings Reveal Forest Ravages

    As Indonesia’s national inquiry into land conflicts affecting indigenous peoples draws to a close, it has become clear that police brutality has become a serial feature, that legions of companies are operating without permits and that the government hasn’t even catalogued the myriad indigenous peoples who live in the forest. (Unnamed / Asiasenintel.com)

    Conflict in Indonesia’s Papua Region

    The clearing of forests inhabited by indigenous people in Indonesia's Papua* Region by agribusinesses is fuelling conflict in the southern Merauke Regency, say campaigners. (IRIN)

    Starvation and poverty in Indonesia

    Civil society organisations appeal for suspension of MIFEE project in Papua pending redress for local communities (FPP)

    Indonesia’s tropical forests set to benefit from further clearing ban

    Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expected to sign extended deal to help restore habitat of tigers and orangutans. (The Guardian)

    Where are the trees?

    The globally announced new forest policy of controversial paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) will save almost no forests in its main base of operations in Sumatra, a new report by the NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest has concluded. (Rainforest News)

    Indonesian pulp giant APRIL is bulldozing Indigenous community forests

    Once again, an Indonesian pulp and paper company is clearing the forests of indigenous communities to replace them with industrial tree plantations. Once again, villagers are protesting. Once again, the police and authorities are siding with the company. (REDD Monitor)

    After Indonesian paper giant commits to no deforestation, pressure mounts on its biggest competitor

    After Indonesian paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper's announcement last week that it will no longer source fiber produced from destruction of tropical rainforests, environmental groups are now urging Indonesia's other major paper company to make a similar commitment. (Butler / Mongabay)

  • Documents and Downloads

    Indigenous Peoples & Sustainable Development

    The guide addresses the question of how can we make sure that development initiatives are really sustainable and bring positive results for the well-being of indigenous communities. One of the best strategies we can use is to demand that all development initiatives respect our human rights. This guide is designed to help indigenous peoples understand what our rights are and what obligations the governments, agencies, and businesses that finance development projects have when they impact indigenous lands and communities. (The Indian Law Resource Center 2013)

    Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Food Security

    Rerpot by DFID looking into the questions of the impacts of large-scale land acquisitions (LSA) on local food insecurity and malnutrition levels; and differences in impacts between the international and local investments (Tanner / DFIF and CEIL PEAKS, 2013)

    Reducing forestry emissions in Indonesia

    This report published by Center for International Forestry Research outlines the current status and trends for Indonesia's forests and stresses that forest conversion must cease for Indonesia to achieve emissions reductions through forestry, since expanding plantations alone will not suffice. (CIFOR, 2010)

    Resource Kit on Indigenous Peoples Issues

    Prepared by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, this Kit focuses on development and indigenous peoples, with emphasis on their full and effective participation in all development processes and the need for a genuine partnership in - and ownership with them - of these processes. (UN, 2008)

    Where are the trees?

    APP and and its mother company Sinar Mas announced the policy in February as "an end to the clearing of natural forest across its entire supply chain in Indonesia, with immediate effect." However, a new Eyes on the Forest (EoF) analysis that looks at all APP concessions – including those not covered by the moratorium - show a different picture. (Eyes on the Forest, 2013)

    Other videos

    Our Land Is Gone

    The Malind Anim tribe in Zanegi Village, Merauke, Papua, Indonesia are hunter gatherers who rely on the forest for they livelihoods. They are born, raised and get food from the forest. But in the village of Zanegi, time have changed. The Medco corporation is clearing thousands of hectares of forest. Medco plans to convert 169,000 hectares of land to industrial tree plantations. This plantation is part of the milion hectare Meruake Integrated Food and Energy Estate, known as MIFEE. (Gekko Studio / Pusaka / SKP KAME, 2012)

    Pulp Friction

    This is a clip from a documentary which looks at the devastating effects of the mass consumption of cheap white paper is creating environmental despair for communities in Indonesia. (Journeyman TV, 2002)

    Corporate Branding: Asia Pulp & Paper - Reforestation Television Ad

    This is an advertisement BY Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)

    Paper Tiger

    ABC examines the impact of the world's largest paper plant on Indonesia's delicate ecosystems. Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, is home to the world's biggest paper plant. Owned and run by Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL), the company has embarked on a massive land clearing project. It is removing natural stands of timber and replanting fast-growing acacia trees - which it says will feed the plant. APRIL describes the programme as sustainable and preferable to the ad hoc land clearing and burning which blights much of Indonesia's archipelago. But the project faces claims of corruption while the rapidly diminishing Sumatran jungle is adding dramatically to Indonesia's greenhouse gas outputs and threatening biodiversity. (ABC 2011)

    Related links

  • Use our films

    Information and education are powerful tools for community empowerment and social change. Watch our films to find out more about the issues of climate change. Then share this knowledge with you community, family and friends.

    Our films have a primary audience of indigenous and forest dependent communities and their supporting organisations. If you are connected with any such groups and would like to discuss how these films might complement your activities please get in touch. The films are available free of charge.

    A LifeMosaic film screening in Pandumaan-Sipituhuta villages.

    Our films have also been as educational and advocacy tools in many different settings including conferences, film festivals, schools and universities, and in NGO, company and government meetings. Please contact us if you would like to discuss organising such a screening.

    More on how to organise a screening

    Sign the petition

    Brazil: Solidarity with communities in Maranhão threatened by tree plantations for biomass and paper

    In the Brazilian state of Maranhão, the livelihoods and land rights of traditional communities are under threat from the pulp and paper company Suzano Papel e Celulose, which is establishing new eucalyptus plantations, some of them for producing paper, others for producing wood pellets for UK or other European power stations.

    Communities in Baixo Parnaíba have been living in harmony with the region’s highly biodiverse Cerrado ecosystem and they heavily rely on harvesting fruits from native trees for their livelihoods.  Suzano, on the other hand, is bulldozing trees and all other vegetation to clear the way for eucalyptus monocultures. Ironically, they are seeking to market their wood pellets from these plantations as ‘renewable energy’.

    Communities have asked for international solidarity with their struggle to have their rights to the land recognised.  Recognition of their land tenure would protect both their livelihoods and the savannah forests and biodiversity of the region.  Please support them by signing BiofuelWatch's petition.

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