Greenpeace calls for legal action against rogue palm oil producer and trader IOI

Press release - 27 April, 2016
Jakarta, 27 April 2016 - Palm oil giant IOI continues to drain and develop fire-prone peatland concessions in West Kalimantan despite an Indonesian government ban on further peatland development and sanctions from both the government and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Earlier this month, field investigations by Greenpeace Indonesia into IOI’s PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (PT BSS) concession revealed ongoing drainage and development of peatlands, undermining efforts to reduce the risk of fire and haze in the region.

Severe fires were recorded in this concession and the surrounding landscape, including other IOI concessions, in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In October 2015, the Indonesian government sanctioned PT BSS under the 2009 Environment Act for failing to prevent fires. [1] In November 2015, the Indonesian president and Minister of Environment and Forestry instructed companies to dam primary canals, to halt all development on peat and to restore all burnt areas. [2]

Yet Greenpeace Indonesia researchers found that dams had not been erected on the canals in PT BSS. Instead, they documented free-flowing canals draining peatland and High Conservation Value forests, and oil palm saplings planted in recently burnt peatland areas. More oil palm saplings were observed deposited in a burnt area, standing by according to a local source for further planting in the burned area once conditions were dry again.

“Last year, President Jokowi ordered companies to do everything they can to prevent fires. Yet IOI is making everything worse by draining peatlands that are already blighted by fires. The Indonesian government should intervene and ensure these fire-prone peatlands are restored before IOI puts any more lives at risk,” said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati.

IOI is the largest concession holder in the Ketapang peatland landscape. It controls four palm oil concessions – PT BSS, PT SKS, PT BNS & PT KPAM – with Singaporean company Bumitama holding a minority stake of 28% in all except PT KPAM. Severe fires have repeatedly broken out in and around Ketapang, as the ongoing drainage and development of the peatland in these concessions leaves the landscape more vulnerable to burning,

In 2014, the Singaporean government passed the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA), making companies that fail to prevent fires liable for haze pollution. As PT BSS and the other concessions are part-owned by Singapore-based Bumitama, the THPA should apply - leaving the company liable to fines and civil lawsuits from Singaporean citizens. [3]

Earlier this month, IOI was suspended from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for deforestation, peatland drainage, operating without proper licences and failing to prevent fires in PT BSS and its other West Kalimantan concessions.

Greenpeace is preparing a dossier of evidence, including official land tenure documents, satellite images, NASA fire hotspot data, and field documentation to submit to the Indonesian government, the Singapore government, the RSPO and the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency.

“Last year the president issued an instruction for police and prosecutors to pursue companies responsible for fires in their concessions. [4] The fires peaked almost six months ago, but despite promises, prosecutions have been far too few. Meanwhile, the Singaporean government needs to put to work its strong anti-haze laws, passed two years ago. This is the perfect opportunity to use them to fine IOI’s concessions for failing to prevent fires and haze,” said Annisa.  

“The market cannot ignore IOI’s inaction either. Consumer companies must suspend all purchases until IOI is restoring the forests and peatlands it has destroyed and can prove its suppliers are not involved in deforestation.”


Notes to Editors:

[1] Reference here.

[2] This direction expressly applies even inside existing concessions: here.

[3] PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (PT BSS) is a joint venture between IOI (67%) and Bumitama (28%). The oil palm concession covers 10,067ha.

[4] Presidential Instruction No. 11, 2015 on Controlling Forest and Landscape Fires

Photos and UAV video available here:

Media Contacts:

Annisa Rahmawati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, mobile: +62 8111097527

Igor O'Neill, International media for Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign, , Mobile +62 811 1923 721

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)