Children's Books About Rainforest Deforestation Traced Back to Rainforest Deforestation

Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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No need to read a pop-up book to see the devastation of deforestation. (Photo: Indonesia Stringer/Reuters)

An increasing number of children's books—including some detailing the hazards of rainforest deforestation—were found to have been constructed from paper that originated in Indonesia’s rainforests, according to a report commissioned by Rainforest Action Network.

The report, entitled Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction, discovered that 18 of 30 kids' books chosen at random contained controversial wood fibers.

How is this possible?

Well, the Indonesian logging industry is like the American Wild West.

Every tree for him or herself.

There are virtually no government or self-imposed industry checks and balances. As such, pulp and paper companies are clear-cutting rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra and replacing them with acadia pulp wood plantations.

The biggest benefactor of this lawless pastiche?

China.

Over an eight year period, 2000 to 2008, Chinese sales of children’s picture books to the U.S. ballooned by more than 290 percent, averaging an increase of more than 35 percent per year.

According to the report, China is the top importer of Indonesian pulp and paper. Furthermore, a large portion of the Chinese paper industry is associated with one controversial supplier in particular—Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL).

Last month, The Forest Stewardship Council, a defacto global regulator that encourages sustainably managed forests, suspended the certification of APRIL due to “evidence of conversion of rainforests for acacia plantations, the destruction of 'High Conservation Value Forest,' draining peatlands, as well as continuing conflicts with local communities,” according to Mongabay.

Rainforest Action Network’s report, which was conducted by independent laboratories, also found that:

  • Nine of the 10 leading publishers of children’s books are selling books manufactured on paper that threatens Indonesia’s rainforests.

  • Publishers with paper policies and climate commitments had a similar percentage of books containing controversial fiber compared to publishers without policies.

  • Industry paper policies and best practices are currently lacking the capacity or are failing to screen out fiber that is sourced from endangered forests or from controversial sources and suppliers.

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