Greenpeace calls for investigation into Sinarmas dealings

In this Oct. 1, 2017, photo, vendors wait for customers at their stalls outside Sinarmas Land Plaza during a car-free day at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. Despite its denials, Sinarmas, one of the world's biggest paper producers, has extensive behind-the-scenes ties and significant influence over wood suppliers linked to fires and deforestation that have degraded Indonesia's stunning natural environment. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The environmental group Greenpeace has called for an investigation into the relationship between paper giant Sinarmas and its wood suppliers after The Associated Press found substantial ties between them despite the Indonesian conglomerate's assertions the suppliers are independent.

Among the suppliers described as independent are plantation companies accused of responsibility for devastating fires in Indonesia in 2015 that the World Bank estimated caused losses of $16 billion and which a Harvard and Columbia study said hastened 100,000 deaths.

AP's investigation also found that a plantation company owned by two Sinarmas Forestry employees has been cutting down tropical forest in Borneo since 2014 and that Sinarmas is recruiting a new wood supplier that is in conflict with dozens of villages.

Sinarmas, in a 2013 agreement with Greenpeace, said it would stop cutting down tropical forests and end land conflicts with communities.

"We call for an immediate investigation, involving NGOs and independent experts," the head of Greenpeace's Indonesian forests campaign, Kiki Taufik, said in a statement Wednesday.

Greenpeace said the investigation should include a review of a previous audit of the relationship between Sinarmas and its suppliers.

It said if companies linked to Sinarmas have continued forest destruction since 2013, "then there really is no way back and its sustainability commitments will have been shown to be a facade."

AP outlined its findings to Sinarmas five days ago but the company has not responded despite twice specifying a time by which it would comment.

Indonesia is cutting down its rainforests faster than any other country, swelling the profits of a handful of paper and palm oil conglomerates while causing massive social and environmental problems. The rapid forest loss combined with its greenhouse gas emissions has made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the U.S. and India.

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