Greenpeace protects Indonesian forests against Asia Pulp and Paper, 2009-2013


"APP needs to leave the deforestation-dependent economic growth model. It could - and should - lead low-carbon growth by setting the bar for industry best practice. We are calling on APP to follow the lead of its Sinar Mas sister company, GAR, and end its dependence on clearance of forest and peatland areas for pulpwood." -Greenpeace About the Campaign 2011

Time period

25 November, 2009 to 5 February, 2013



Location City/State/Province

Sumatra, Indonesia

Location Description

Though the campaign targeted Asia Pulp and Paper's main mills and extraction sites in Indonesia, online consumer campaigns reached a global audience and local campaigns were known in the United States, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Germany, and the Netherlands
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 2nd segment

  • Consolidation of campaign news and resources under the "Asia Pulp & Paper under Investigation" heading on Greenpeace website

Methods in 3rd segment

Segment Length

6 and 2/3 months

Notes on Methods

Because most petition signatures and messages were gathered online, timing is somewhat difficult to specifically place.


Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Indonesia


All Greenpeace offices, Greenpeace Forests

External allies

World Wildlife Fund

Involvement of social elites

Not known


Asia Pulp & Paper

Nonviolent responses of opponent

None known

Campaigner violence

None known

Repressive Violence

None known





Group characterization

Greenpeace activists
concerned environmentalists
consumers worldwide

Groups in 1st Segment

concerned local activists and NGOs

Groups in 2nd Segment

concerned consumers worldwide

Groups in 4th Segment

World Wildlife Fund
Green Party of New Zealand
Green Party of New Zealand (Exit)

Additional notes on joining/exiting order

Local NGOs in 1st segment not consistently named in media

Segment Length

6 and 2/3 months

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

5 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

8 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

Success in achieving specific demands must still be monitored and measured, though APP did publicly commit to ending their severe deforestation and illegal logging practices on February 5, 2013. Survival is due to Greenpeace's stability as an established organization. Growth of this specific campaign is difficult to articulate when one considers the already immense size of Greenpeace's global mobilization network.

Database Narrative

Immediately before
the 2009 UN Copenhagen Climate Summit, Greenpeace International took major
direct action against Asia Pulp and Paper in the heart of the Indonesian forest,
launching their “Asia Pulp & Paper under Investigation” campaign.  Thirteen Greenpeace activists locked down
cranes at Asia Pulp and Paper’s main port, attaching themselves to dangling crane
cables.  All thirteen activists were ultimately
arrested, and the last four activists occupied one of the cranes for twenty-seven hours.  Though Greenpeace activists
had been mapping deforestation and mobilizing against destruction of Indonesian
forests with existing local groups for some years prior to this act, the
25 November 2009 action seems to mark the first clearly targeted and
advertised action against Asia Pulp and Paper. 

Greenpeace messaging of the 25 November 2009 action stated: “Deforestation is one of the roots of the
climate crisis. We are shutting down this plant at the frontline of forest
destruction to tell Heads of State that they can - and must - pull us back from
the brink of catastrophic climate change. The paper mill is owned by Asia Pulp
& Paper (APP). The parent company, Sinar Mas, is a leading driver of global
climate change due to its widespread role in forest destruction. This plant is
fed by wood from one of the world's largest peatland forests, on the Kampar
Peninsula in Sumatra, which stores up to 2 giga tonnes of carbon." This statement revealed that though Greenpeace was planning a
targeted campaign against APP, it saw the importance of the campaign within the
broader context of the practices of the Sinar Mas parent company, as well as
the heads of state tasked with legislating against climate change and

Following the initial November 2009 nonviolent direct
action, Greenpeace’s Forest Campaign in Indonesia, led by activist Bustar
Maitar, published a report showing how major brands like Tesco, Walmat, Auchan,
Hewlett Packard, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, through their use of APP paper
products, contributed to the deforestation of the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest
Landscape, one of the last habitat spaces for endangered Sumatran tigers and
orangutans.  In addition, the report
detailed how APP deforestation along the Kerumutan peatland, illegal under
Indonesian law, was further compounding global warming.  Greenpeace consolidated
all campaign news and resources under the “Asia Pulp & Paper under
Investigation” heading on their international website.

Though immediate action was not taken against these
complicit companies, this Greenpeace report withstood scientific review and
spread widely online and via traditional print media.  Throughout most of 2010 it Greenpeace seemed
to focus on online initiatives to educate consumers about the deforestation practices
of APP.  Though unclear, it is very
likely that Greenpeace continued grassroots outreach, via petitioning and flyering
at this time, as Greenpeace traditionally uses grassroots outreach tactics
in the early stages of their anti-corporate campaigns.  Regardless, mobilization and outreach
throughout 2010 set the stage for a series of actions through 2011.

Greenpeace kicked off 2011 by crashing Paperworld, an
international paper fair in Frankfurt, Germany, on 20 January 2011.  Greenpeace activists ambushed APP
representatives and publicly “awarded” APP with a golden chainsaw and banner
calling out APP’s destructive deforestation policies.  The action coincided with the UN announcement
of 2011 as the “International Year of Forests.” 
Increased visibility and publication of the event partially contributed
to an investigation of deforestation by the government of Indonesia in June 2011.  The investigation concluded that the pulp and
palm oil sectors were by far the largest drivers of deforestation. 

Through the rest of 2011 Greenpeace waged incredibly visible consumer
education and action campaigns targeting companies using APP paper products.  Greenpeace advertised these campaigns broadly
online and in national and international media.

In June, 2011, Greenpeace released online videos targeting Mattel’s use
of APP products, humorously lamenting “Barbie’s deforestation habit.”  The videos went viral, and Greenpeace used
the videos to launch a mobilization named “Toying with Extinction.”  In only 6 months over 200,000 consumers
signed petitions asking Mattel to cease their use of APP products. 

In August 2011 Greenpeace partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and the
Green Party of New Zealand to publish “The Rainforest Friendly Toilet Roll
Guide.”  Several New Zealand tissue companies
refused to let their products be tested, so Greenpeace requested fiber testing
from an outside global firm.  The results
revealed the APP products included endangered hardwoods from Indonesia, and
created a public relations storm that culminated in Greenpeace bird-dogging of Steve
Nicholson, the corporate affairs director for APP Australia and New Zealand.

Greenpeace launched another consumer action and petition campaign against
KFC’s use of APP products in late 2011. 
This campaign went global.  Some
of the most publicized consumer actions (timing unclear) included the delivery
of over 30,000 consumer messages demanding the U.S. KFC board of directors cease
the use of APP paper products in the U.S. (this letter-writing push was
punctuated by a Greenpeace live-streamed video “dunk” of a life-sized Colonel
Sanders mascot in dipping sauce when the 30,000 goal was met) and the local
picketing and partial boycott of six KFC stores in the Netherlands.  Humor and online videos proved incredibly
useful in attracting international attention.

During this consumer escalation time from 2011-2012 APP employed a smear
campaign against Greenpeace: challenging the legal status of the Indonesian
office, publicly questioning Greenpeace’s sources of funding, and even leveraging
pressure on the Indonesian government to refuse the head of Greenpeace UK entrance
to Jakarta when he attempted to attend a 2011 forestry conference.

APP’s oppressive reactions to Greenpeace, combined with increasing
consumer pressure via online petitions and local letter writing campaigns, forced several companies to cease their
usage of APP paper products, and by the end of November 2011 Hasbro, Mont
Blanc, Tchibo (the world’s fifth largest coffee roaster), Cartamundi (the world’s
leading maker of playing cards), and several smaller companies announced their
refusal to do business with APP.  The
banking group ING also ceased providing financial services for one of APP’s
companies at this time.  Media and
consumer pressure threatened the public license of APP to continue business as

Greenpeace activists further escalated tactics, and in April 2012
hundreds of volunteers dressed as “homeless” Sumatran Tigers stopped rush hour
in downtown Jakarta. 

By 4 May 2012 a widely circulated and respected Greenpeace
investigative report on APP’s illegal logging inspired Canadian investment
giant Mackenzie Investments to announce its intent to cease investing in APP
operations.  In May 2012 APP attempted to
soothe investors by releasing a new forest protection policy.  Greenpeace attacked the policy, and messaged
their entire presence at the Summer 2012 Rio +20 Earth Summit around the lies
of company green washing.

By the end of 2012 increased efforts against KFC’s use of APP products
motivated KFC Indonesia, United Kingdom, and Ireland to announce their refusal
to use APP products. They joined over 100 companies in taking action against APP, including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestle, Carrefour, Staples, and Unilever.

Finally, on 5 February 2013 APP announced publicly that they would
commit to end deforestation and more sustainably source their paper
products.  A hesitantly optimistic Bustar
Maitar announced that Greenpeace would cease their campaign against APP but continue
to track the company’s progress and commitment to more sustainable paper
sourcing.  Maitar also lamented the
thousands of hectares of Indonesian forest already destroyed.


Greenpeace modeled this campaign in part after their successful 2004-2009 campaign against Kimberly-Clark's deforestation of Canadian boreal forests (1).
Lessons from this campaign likely influence Greenpeace's current campaign against APRIL, another large paper company criticized for unsustainable timber sourcing (2).


"Asia Pulp & Paper Commits to Stop Clearing Indonesian Rainforest." Greenpeace USA. Greenpeace, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.

"Asia Pulp & Paper Under Investigation: Exposing the Lead Driver of Deforestation in Indonesia." Greenpeace. Greenpeace, 2013. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.

"Campaign Updates, Indonesian Forests." Greenpeace International. Greenpeace, 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <>. Campaign update headlines and links pages 1-6.

Leader, Jessica. "Asia Pulp & Paper Company Pledges To Stop Deforestation In Indonesia Through Work With Greenpeace." The Huffington Post. Associated Press, 05 Feb. 2013. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.

Maitar, Bustar. "Asia Pulp and Paper Commits to End Deforestation!" Greenpeace. Greenpeace, 5 Feb. 2013. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.

Additional Notes

Specific allies of this campaign are somewhat difficult to discern due to Greenpeace's international/regional office relationships.

Pictures of clearcutting, endangered animals from Greenpeace "Tiger Eye Tour":

Video of Greenpeacers scaling Mattel building headquarters and preceeding arrests:

Ramin Paper Trail Video:

Toying with Extinction Video:

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Pauline Blount and Rachel Dunsmore, 04/22/2013