Just over 30 percent of German children's books tested by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) contained wood fibres from threatened rainforests in Asia. For some publishers that figure was more than 50 percent.
Ironically, the books printed on paper which contained rainforest wood included such titles as “Animas in the wood” and “The Wonderful World of Knowledge: Rainforests”, Der Spiegel said.
The study comes three years after a similar investigation by the environmentalists prompted several German publishers to pledge they would only use sustainably sourced paper in their books, a promise which WWF said has not been kept.
“The publishing houses obviously know about it,” the authors of the study told the magazine, but suggested they continued the practice to keep costs low.
European and American publishing houses, which consume a large share of the world's commercially harvested wood, increasingly outsource book production to Asia, particularly China, where costs are very low.
WWF said this significantly raises the risk that paper is made from wood from illegal or unsustainable logging. Chinese printing houses often get paper from Indonesian suppliers, which the NGO said were notorious for large-scale destruction of their country's tropical forests.
“As a result the publishing industry has unknowingly contributed to the destruction of natural habitats of animal and plant species, to climate change and to human rights violations amongst the local population,” wrote WWF on their website in 2010.