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Planet Ark World Environment News Indonesia APP Says Audit Shows Deforestation Claim Untrue

Date: 12-Aug-10
Country: INDONESIA
Author: REUTERS

Indonesian paper firm Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) on Wednesday released an audit it said showed allegations it destroyed rainforest were baseless and invalid.

The audit marks the latest chapter in an increasingly bitter dispute between environmentalists and the plantation industry over Indonesian forests, which trap huge amounts of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

French retailer Carrefour said last month it would stop buying certain APP products, a day after Greenpeace released a report accusing the paper firm of planning to destroy vast areas of Indonesian rainforest. APP described the allegations as 'ridiculous'.

Following other allegations of forest destruction by another conservationist group, WWF, APP produced a report that it said refuted the claims and had been checked by audit company Mazars.

"The audit conducted by Mazars found that the facts contained in the APP report were accurate and, therefore, the allegations made by the environmental NGOs were indeed baseless, inaccurate and without validity," the report said.

"APP is making efforts to reduce its environmental impact" by undertaking carbon footprint calculations in its mills and preserving tracts of valuable forest," their report said.

Greenpeace forest campaigner, Bustar Maitar, said the audit was "just greenwashing."

APP is part of the Sinar Mas empire founded by the Widjaja family, which also runs Golden Agri-Resources, the parent company of palm oil firm PT SMART Tbk.

SMART, which has been the target of a series of Greenpeace reports accusing it of clearing high conservation forest in Kalimantan, released an audit on Tuesday that partially cleared it of the allegations.

Big palm oil buyers Nestle and Unilever, which stopped buying SMART products after the Greenpeace reports came out, are yet to say if they will renew contracts following the audit's release.

(Editing by Alison Birrane)

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