Palm Oil Industry Needs to Support Jokowi’s Leadership on Forest and Peat Protection

Press release - December 5, 2014
Following last week’s strong pro-peatlands and forests commitment by new Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, two of the world’s largest palm oil producers and traders have announced policies to address criticism of deforestation in their supply chains. However, where Musim Mas commits to immediately protect High Carbon Stock forests, Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) does not define exactly what it will protect.

The High Carbon Stock Approach is a tested tool that identifies degraded areas suitable for plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values. It is being overseen and further refined by the multi-stakeholder High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group, which involves international NGOs including Greenpeace as well as palm oil producers Cargill, Agropalma, Wilmar, New Britain Palm Oil, Daabon and Golden Agri Resources and pulp and paper company Asia Pulp & Paper.

“While Musim Mas will use the leading methodology to break the link between palm oil and deforestation, KLK fails to identify what forests the company plans to protect,” said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati. “Without a clear definition of forests, it is hard for us to believe that the company is serious about its commitments.”

Both Musim Mas and KLK are part of the Malaysia-based Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM), an industry initiative that has commissioned further carbon study. In their new policies the companies say they will adopt the outcomes of that study after 2015. Where the HCS Approach has explicitly been developed to implement commitments to break the link between palm oil and deforestation, the objective of the SPOM appears to rather be balancing GHG emissions and socioeconomic aspects.  Greenpeace and other leading NGOs do not support the SPOM as it falls short of new benchmarks for responsible palm oil production and trade, and is not a multistakeholder driven initiative. However, the HCS Approach Steering Group has stated an openness to any new credible science and will consider recommendations from the SPOM study.

“With deforestation rates rising in Indonesia, KLK and Musim Mas need get their priorities right. We urge these companies to make a long-term commitment to the best tools available, in particular the HCS Approach, to break the link between palm oil and deforestation. They also need to require their third party suppliers to do the same,” Annisa said.

KLK’s and Musim Mas’ announcements come days after a visit by president Jokowi to the coastal peatlands of Riau. The president announced his Minister for Environment and Forestry is reviewing plantation concessions, and will revoke the permissions of those that have damaged ecosystems. Greenpeace supports Jokowi’s push for environmental law enforcement, and notes a recent case with a director and a manager of KLK subsidiary PT Adei Plantation and Industry found guilty in September of negligence over forest fires by a court in Pelalawan, Riau.

Media Contacts
Annisa Rahmawati, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Indonesia.  +62-811-1097-527

Igor O’Neill, International Media, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Indonesia Forests Campaign. +62-8111-923721