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Greenpeace says logging illegal
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-17 14:44

Greenpeace China says an Indonesian company is illegally logging parts of Yunnan Province.

The group said a large paper and pulp project by Asia Pulp & Paper Co Ltd (APP) in the Southwest China province could devastate natural forests.

The allegations were denied by APP sources yesterday, while Yunnan officials said the project is considered a "good one."

The international non-governmental organization called for a halt and reassessment of the project.

It urged APP, one of the largest pulp and paper group in Asia, to stop transforming natural forests into artificial ones and halt illegal logging.

Greenpeace China said it had forwarded its report to the department for forest management under the State Forestry Administration and other related Chinese authorities. It is expecting a response in 60 days.

But sources with the administration said yesterday no such report from Greenpeace had reached the department so far.

However, the department plans to pay close attention to the issue.

If illegal logging of natural forests does exist in Yunnan, local forestry authorities will be ordered to look into the case and punish those who break law, the sources said.

The project, agreed to in 2002 by APP and the Yunnan provincial government, involves 1.8 million hectares in the regions of Wenshan, Lincang and Simao.

According to the Greenpeace report, APP has been cutting trees in natural forests in the regions and planting non-native eucalyptus trees, which are used by the company to produce paper and pulp.

Xie Yan, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said eucalyptus trees consume a large quantity of water and are harmful to local biodiversity.

Liu Bing, Greenpeace China's forestry project deputy director, said more than 733,000 hectares of the planted areas were forests rather than deserted regions, as APP said.

But Nie Yuanfei, from the Policy Research Office of the provincial government, said most of the regions used in the project were deserted.

The provincial government strictly abides by national rules and bans cutting of natural forests, he said.

He said the project was carefully examined by experts.

A source with APP China denied Greenpeace's allegations, saying that the company is willing to discuss the issue with the organization.

He said that the total land area APP can use depends on agreements with local farmers and natural condition.

The source did say there may be some sporadic logging of natural forests by local farmers, who want to sell their contracted land to the company.

In late October, APP announced a moratorium on tree cutting in two strategic areas of Indonesia until conservation assessments were completed.

The company had been accused of illegal logging in Indonesia.

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