News in brief - issue 205

10 June 2015

As Fern pointed out in last month’s ForestWatch, four important EU consultations are now open. For a brief explanation of each consultation, please refer to FW204.

An NGO that helps companies devise and implement responsible supply chains, the Forest Trust (TFT), has suspended work with the Indonesian palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources (GAR). TFT said it had been working with a GAR subsidiary but was “aware of several breaches” of GAR’s policies on zero deforestation and community engagement. TFT’s move came after the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) upheld a complaint by the Forest Peoples Programme about GAR’s planting practices in West Kalimantan, which had involved taking land without community consent. As TFT is funded by the companies it works with, its decision to forego the income brought by GAR shows it takes its promises seriously. GAR recognised there had been “implementation challenges”but said it remained committed to its forest conservation and community engagement policies.

Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) tested the paper of 24 children’s books sold in Norway, and found tropical hardwood fibres in 11 of them. Guilty titles include Little Red Riding Hood and Postman Pat. RFN has launched a consumer petition demanding that Norwegian publishers take action to clean up their supply chains and stop printing books on paper that contains mixed tropical hardwood.  Recent research from Fern revealed that Norway’s funding for forest-related projects has dramatically increased in recent years; one fund alone contributed EUR 256 million in 2012, making Norway Europe’s biggest donor for forest-related projects. It is ironic therefore that almost half of children’s picture books imported into Norway come from China, which in turn is the largest importer of timber and pulp from Indonesia. Indonesia is currently struggling to meet the conditions for a VPA with the EU and illegal logging of tropical hardwoods there remains a major problem (see article above).

Communities in Cameroon were relieved to hear that the New York based palm oil company Herakles Farms and its subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) have decided to stop its all operations in Mundemba and Toko concession areas, which are located near a national park and a forest reserve. Communities have long protested against the establishment of palm oil plantations in protected forested areas and have been supported by local and international NGOs to advocate for their rights to be respected.

Fern has released the latest twice-yearly FLEGT VPA update, which provides an overarching view of the Action Plan as a whole as well as a country-by-country update on VPA-related processes since November 2014. After a decade of VPA processes, some countries are beginning to show real improvements, while the process is essentially stalled in others. This edition also highlights Fern’s film Stories from the Ground, containing interviews with some of the people who are using VPAs to address bad forest governance in their own countries. All of the previous Forest Watch VPA specials are also available at

FERN works to achieve environmental and social justice with a focus on forests and forest peoples' rights in the policies and practices of the European Union.

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