Pulp maker accused of mass tree logging

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China Daily 17 March 2005

By Qin Yan

Current logging practices could result in the loss of trees along thousands of kilometres of road in South China's Hainan Province.

Fears were raised after the Beijing News reported that a subsidiary of paper and pulp giant Asia Pulp & Paper Co Ltd (APP) was involved in a mass logging of roadside trees in the province.

If the current continues and is supported and promoted by local governments, nearly 20,000 kilometres of road there will be cut down, said the newspaper.

In place of the original trees, more economic varieties such as eucalyptus, are being planted.

Eucalyptus provide the raw material for the Jinhai Pulp Factory, an APP subsidiary that started operating in January and can produce 600,000 tons of pulp a year.

The Beijing News said the Hainan government has great investment expectations from APP.

Investment into the Jinhai plant accounted for 80 per cent of the input figures of established industrial projects in the province last year.

An APP source Thursday refused to make any comment on the issue.

According to the Beijing News, all the original trees along the Chengmai County section of an expressway in the province have been chopped down, leaving only the stubs behind.

A blue bulletin board by the side of the road says: "Demonstration section for changing roadside trees into pulp and paper-oriented trees."

By the end of last year, the Chengmai County government had signed contracts affecting 80 kilometres of road, the newspaper reported.

The "Chengmai practice" is being promoted across the province.

Head of the Yunnan Forestry Bureau Zhu Xuancheng in Southwest China reportedly said eucalyptus trees will be planted alongside expressways, highways and township roads.

The total length of such roads in Hainan is more than 19,400 kilometres, the Beijing News reported, quoting statistics from the Yunnan transport authority.

The huge demand for timber from the Jinhai plant appears to be behind the massive logging efforts.

A forestry official told the newspaper that Yunnan has stopped exporting timber and is, instead, supplying all the timber for Jinhai. At the same time, the plant buys timber from South China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Before that, Yunnan's timber export stood at 200,000 tons a year.

An APP source told the Beijing News that the Jinhai plant is heavily dependent on importing raw material.

The report put APP again under spotlight after the company was accused by environmental groups of destroying forests in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

In mid-November, Greenpeace China claimed APP's large-scale paper and pulp project in Yunnan could devastate the province's forests.

The reports prompted a hotel association to ask its members to boycott APP products.