What Publishers Need to Know About Foreign-Sourced Papers: A Q&A with Green Press Initiative’s Todd Pollak
Extra: How is this threatening the wildlife populations there?
Pollak: This is having devastating effects on the wildlife that depend on these forests. It is estimated that the Sumatran tiger population has declined by about 70 percent since 1982 with some estimates as low as fewer than 200 individuals existing in the wild. The province of Riau, which once had one of Indonesia’s largest elephant populations and has had the highest rate of deforestation, has seen it’s elephant populations drop from nearly 1,500 in 1982 to just over 200 today. Orangutan populations have also dropped sharply, declining by more than 40 percent in the past decade.
Extra: What else should publishers know about the paper they are sourcing abroad, specifically in Indonesia?
Pollak: Publishers should know that in Indonesia and many [other] countries … that are major suppliers of pulp and paper, it is not just forests and wildlife that are being harmed as a result of unsustainable logging practices, but millions of people are affected as well. In Indonesia alone, an estimated 30 million people rely directly on the forest for their sustenance. In many cases, entire communities are forced off the land they rely on.
The other thing publishers should know is that deforestation in Indonesia is playing a significant role in climate change. This is because many of the country’s forests are on peat bogs, which store immense amounts of carbon, which is released [into] the atmosphere when the forests are cleared, drained or burned. In fact, a recent study by Wetlands International concluded that if releases from Indonesia’s peat bogs are accounted for, Indonesia is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. A major paper- producing region, the Riau province, which is losing forests at rates as high as 11 percent per year, stores an estimated 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon—equivalent to one year’s worth of global greenhouse-gas emissions.