RSPO members must be held accountable for fires

Press release - 11 July, 2013
Jakarta, 11 July 2013 – Greenpeace International analysis of NASA hotspot data in Sumatra over the period 17 to 30 June ­and fresh photographic evidence has revealed fire hotspots in palm oil concessions that are owned by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) member companies, including Asian Agri and Wilmar International.

The RSPO only chose to investigate five companies who had been named in media reports, however these weren't the companies with the most fire hotspots nor does it come close to the 11 concessions with more than four hotspots Greenpeace International has detected in concession areas.

"The RSPO decided to focus its own investigations on just five of its members, but Greenpeace's evidence points to a far wider problem for the sector, which neither the RSPO nor the companies implicated are owning up to," said Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace International.

"Rather than claiming the innocence of members who've been reported in the media, the RSPO needs to address the real problem - years of peatland drainage and destruction which is labeled 'sustainable' under RSPO rules and has laid the foundation for these disastrous fires."

Greenpeace International documented fires in the concession of PT Raja Garuda Mas Sejati, a subsidiary of prominent Singapore-based RSPO-member Asian Agri and one of the companies the RSPO failed to investigate*, and NASA data reveal 20 hotspots on peatland within the concession between 17 and 28 June.

In addition, Greenpeace International analysis shows that PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, a company that has still failed to provide the RSPO with concession maps that can be used for analysis, had nearly 100 hotspots detected on peatland in its concession between 19 and 26 June. The data reveal that PT Bumireksa Nusasejati, part of the Malaysian-based Sime Darby group, also had more than 20 hotspots on peatland within its concessions between 17 and 28 June.

"The RSPO was established nearly a decade ago in the wake of the 1997 forest fires, yet to date, it has failed to tackle its members' role in creating the conditions that lead to such disaster, nor has it held companies accountable for the impact of their operations. It's time for individual palm oil companies to step up and set the bar higher than the RSPO," said Bustar.

RSPO claims that its members have been "exemplary in managing the fire and the haze situation", and fires were extinguished within 24 hours, but it is unclear on what evidence the RSPO is basing these claims. As Greenpeace International's evidence reveals, many of these hotspots are virtually on top of one another and over consecutive days, casting doubt on RSPO claims that all fires were extinguished within 24 hours. The RSPO has not publicly shared the full analysis that could substantiate these claims.

"The question is why RSPO needs to wait for over two weeks for companies to hand in concession maps, when it is part of the RSPO P&C for members to be transparent about their concession maps. The RSPO ought to be a model to its members on issues of transparency, and make all information public," said Bustar.

Greenpeace calls on corporations to take responsibility for their entire supply chains; commit to zero deforestation and a full ban on peat land development and stop illegal practice such as the fire clearing that is destroying forests and clogging the region's air.

*On 12/7/2013 a correction was made, changing: “one of the companies cleared by the RSPO” to “one of the companies the RSPO failed to investigate”. Asian Agri was not one of the five companies the RSPO was investigating, however it is an RSPO member, and evidence indicates fore hotspots in their concessions, according to publicly available maps.

Notes to editor:

1. The maps Greenpeace International analysis is based on can be viewed here:

Map A)

Map B)

Map C)

Map D)

2. Photos: The full set of photos documenting fire clearing can be viewed at:

Media contact:
Tristan Tremschnig, Communications Coordinator Indonesia Forests, ph: +31 6 43 78 7393 (Netherlands), email:

Photos contact:
Grace Duran-Cabus, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Photo Desk, ph: +63-917-6345126, email: