IOI’s Indonesian forest fire legacy revealed at European palm oil summit

Press release - 9 June, 2016
Jakarta, 9 June 2016 - New analysis reveals the scale of fires in and around the IOI Group’s palm oil concessions in Indonesia. The findings, published today by Greenpeace International, come as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meets in Milan for its European Summit.

The RSPO suspended Malaysian palm oil company IOI in March 2016 for peatland clearance in violation of RSPO principles, among other issues.[1] It responded with a lawsuit against the RSPO, of which it is a founding member. However, IOI dropped the lawsuit four days ahead of the RSPO European Summit and is now pushing for its suspension to be lifted. [2]

Greenpeace International’s investigation provides new evidence that the impact of IOI’s deforestation and peatland drainage is far greater than was recognised in the RSPO complaint that led to the company’s suspension.

Greenpeace is calling on IOI to protect and restore the landscapes affected by its palm oil supply areas, and for the RSPO to maintain its suspension until this has happened.

“Over the past week, IOI has given up trying to bully its way back into the RSPO. But empty promises and weak commitments won’t stop Indonesia from burning. The RSPO mustn’t consider readmitting IOI until the company can prove it is cleaning up the mess it’s made,” said Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia.

Greenpeace International's report includes data on the level of destruction in the peatland area dominated by IOI’s concessions in Ketapang district, West Kalimantan. Last year, terrible fires destroyed forest, peatland and orangutan habitat. The new analysis shows that 30% of the 214,000ha peat landscape in this part of Ketapang burnt in 2015, contributing to the regional haze crisis.

IOI is the biggest landowner in this landscape, holding 30% of the total area under concessions, and in recent years has constructed much of the drainage canal network evident on satellite imagery. Such drainage renders otherwise fire-resistant peat swamps flammable – causing degradation, subsidence and increased fire risk in neighbouring peatland forests and concessions.

IOI’s deforestation and peatland drainage also contributed to a series of fires in its PT BSS concession. In 2014 half of the concession burned, with many of the same areas burning again in 2015.

“In 2015 the government ordered companies to block drainage canals and restore burnt areas. Yet our investigators recently documented free-flowing drainage and planting of oil palm on recently burnt areas. The fire season is getting closer and closer. When will IOI take this threat seriously?,” said Annisa.

“Since IOI’s suspension, a score of major customers have ended their contracts with the company.[3] However we still see little evidence of IOI taking responsibility for the damage it has done across its operations. Remaining customers such as Cargill need to suspend purchasing from IOI until the company has addressed its legacy of forest and peat destruction.”

ENDS

The new Greenpeace International report is available here: www.greenpeace.org/BurningIssue

Photos for use by media are available here.

Notes to editors

[1] In March 2015 the not-for-profit consultancy AidEnvironment made a formal complaint to the RSPO, accusing IOI of breaching RSPO standards and its own environmental policies on its concessions in Ketapang. This included specific evidence of the construction of a drainage canal through an area of HCV forest in PT BSS; clearance of areas of forest on deep peat in PT BSS, continuing after the company had been informed of this breach of standards; and further illegal planting outside the boundaries of PT BNS.

On 14 March 2016, the RSPO Complaints Panel suspended the certification of the IOI Group. The suspension applied to the entire IOI Group, including its plantation division and to its trading arm, IOI Loders Croklaan.

[2] In May 2016, IOI initiated legal proceedings against the RSPO in Geneva. On Monday 6 June - four days before the RSPO conference in Milan - IOI announced that it was withdrawing its legal case.

[3] Companies that have ended ties with IOI include: Ahold, Colgate-Palmolive, Delhaize Group, Dunkin' Donuts, Ferrero, Fronterra, General Mills, Golden Agri-Resources, Hershey's, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Louis Dreyfuss, Marks & Spencer, Mars, McDonald's, Mondelez, Neste Oil, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, RB, Unilever, and Wilmar.

Greenpeace International first exposed IOI’s deforestation and destruction of orangutan habitat a 2008 report Burning Up Borneo.

Media contacts

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

Igor O'Neill, Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaign international media, , Mobile +62 811 1923 721

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

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