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Rainforest Action Network targets HarperCollins for tropical woodfiber found in children’s books after forensic tests

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Rainforest Action Network targets HarperCollins for tropical woodfiber found in children’s books after forensic tests

December 14, 2012 - 08:16
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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12, 2012 (Press Release) -Charismatic children's character Fancy Nancy may be well known for espousing that ‘every day is earth day,' but her books have now been linked to one of the world's most severe deforestation crises. Independent forensic fiber tests, commissioned by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and released today, reveal significant quantities of Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH) and acacia fiber in the paper of one of HarperCollins' best selling children's books, Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas. MTH pulp is produced using timber logged from the rainforests of Indonesia, home to Critically Endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger.

RAN is calling on its members to contact HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray to tell him they don't want books linked to rainforest destruction.

"No child or parent should become an unwitting participant in rainforest destruction this holiday season," said Robin Averbeck, a Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. "It is past time for HarperCollins to sever ties with Indonesian rainforest destroyers APP and APRIL and join its peers like Scholastic, Hachette, and Disney by adopting a comprehensive global paper policy to keep deforestation, tiger extinction and human rights abuses out of its books."

HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, now remains the sole laggard among major US publishers that has refused to make a firm commitment to disallow the use of fiber from controversial sources. HarperCollins has a brief paper statement on its website, but the commitment is vague and as today's test results demonstrate, insufficient to keep rainforest destruction out of the company's supply chains. HarperCollins' UK division has a more robust policy, stating that it will not use paper coming from endangered forest habitats and that it seeks to maximize use of recycled and FSC-certified papers. Yet, this policy does not seem to apply to authors or consumers outside the UK.

High risk acacia fiber was found in HarperCollins titles including Splat the Cat: The Perfect Present for Mom and Dad and Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past. Experts estimate that 90% of global acacia pulp comes from Indonesia. This acacia fiber is often linked to social conflict related to the conversion of natural rainforests and peatlands into mono-culture plantations.

Controversial paper giants Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) together produce upwards of eighty per cent of Indonesia's pulp and paper and are the main source of both MTH and acacia pulp found in the global marketplace. Both companies are responsible for widespread deforestation and displacement of forest communities from their land. Habitat destruction by these companies is a leading threat to the survival of the Sumatran tiger, of which scientists estimate only a few hundred remain.

RAN first alerted the US publishing industry to problems in its paper supply chains in May of 2010 with a report titled Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction: Children's books and the future of Indonesia's rainforests. Over the following year, eight of the top ten publishers adopted commitments to stop buying paper connected to egregious practices leading to loss of Indonesian rainforest, but Disney and HarperCollins did not follow suit. After extensive negotiations with RAN, this past October Disney announced a robust and comprehensive global policy covering the company's vast array of businesses and licensees.

Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world but it also has one of the world's highest rates of deforestation. The Indonesian government estimates that more than a million hectares of rainforests are being cleared every year. Logging for pulp, along with the expansion of palm oil plantations, is a leading driver of this destruction. Indonesia is now listed as the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, after the US and China. An estimated eighty per cent of its emissions come from the conversion of peatlands and other natural forests.

Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America's fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: