End Destructive Palm Oil

Standard Page - 2011-06-21
In 2010, Golden Agri Resources’ biggest claim to fame was being the palm oil arm of the Sinar Mas group, Indonesia’s largest palm oil and pulp and paper supplier – and notorious forest destroyer. This is the same company that had lost its palm oil contract with Nestlé after huge demand from consumers everywhere following the launch of Greenpeace’s Kit Kat campaign.

In 2010, Golden Agri Resources’ biggest claim to fame was being the palm oil arm of the Sinar Mas group, Indonesia’s largest palm oil and pulp and paper supplier – and notorious forest destroyer. This is the same company that had lost its palm oil contract with Nestle after huge demand from consumers everywhere following the launch of Greenpeace’s Kit Kat campaign.

But in February 2011, Golden Agri became the first Indonesian palm oil company to make commitments that could end its involvement in the forest destruction for which the industry has become infamous.

Sweet Success: Nestlé and Golden Agri Resources

Golden Agri is Indonesia’s largest producer of palm oil, with over 406,000 hectares of planation. It had already destroyed swathes of rainforest, and with plans to expand into the thickly rainforested Papua and Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia, it looked likely to continue its destruction.

Now, not even one year after Nestlé dropped its contract, Golden Agri has signaled its recognition that rainforest protection is good for business. The company has pledged to stop clearing forest areas that are high in carbon, or ‘High Carbon Storage’ (HCS) forest. It has also promised to not clear peatlands and forests of High Conservation Value, or areas that are important for local livelihoods and as critical animal habitat. To implement these commitments, Golden Agri said that it will collaborate with The Forest Trust (TFT).

Reaching this point has been driven by all the momentum of our past work, starting with the crucial research exposing the role of the palm oil industry in the devastation of Indonesia’s rainforests. This, in turn, resulted in the cancelling of major contracts with Golden Agri from palm oil buyers like Unilever, Nestlé and Burger King – something which could not have happened without the support of consumers all over the world.

We will be closely monitoring Golden Agri’s next steps to ensure their commitments become real action that protects rainforests. In particular, we will be monitoring their commitment to not clearing forests which contain a high amount of carbon. Currently, Golden Agri has said they will not log forests with carbon content higher than a provisional threshold of 35 tonnes of carbon per hectare. The higher the carbon threshold, the more important it is for our climate that this carbon-rich land isn’t destroyed.

Advisors to the Indonesian government already recommended this same threshold figure as part of a low-carbon development pathway for the country. This also marks a good opportunity for the Indonesian government to insist on similar standards across all industries operating in forest areas. While Golden Agri may have decided to mend its ways, other major players in the palm oil industry are continuing their destructive practices. A critical first step for the Indonesian government would be to stop the issue of new logging licenses and conduct a review of already existing ones.

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