Responding to news today that the palm oil arm of Sinar Mas, Golden Agri-Resources, has announced a plan to halt the destruction of Indonesia’s forests previously caused by their operations, Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s campaign to protect Indonesian forests, said:
“This could be good news for the forests, endangered species like the orang-utan and for the Indonesian economy.
“On paper, the new commitments from Golden Agri are a major step towards ending their involvement in deforestation. And if they do make these changes, large areas of forests will be saved. But now they’ve actually got to implement these plans, and we’re watching closely to make sure this happens.
“Golden Agri’s announcement today has given a huge boost to the Indonesian President’s pledge to protect forests and tackle climate change. And now the Indonesian Government must support this initiative by stopping any more licences being granted for forest and peatland clearance, and by reviewing activities in areas where licences have already been handed out.”
In recent years, Greenpeace revelations showing the destruction caused by Golden Agri-Resources have led to international corporations such as Unilever and Nestle cancelling their contracts with the Indonesian palm oil company. However, today’s move could signal the start of a shift throughout the industry, and eventually lead to full forest and peatland protection.
A key commitment by Golden Agri-Resources is a pledge not to clear ‘High Carbon Storage’ forest. Under the company’s new plans, they have set a provisional threshold and will not be developing land which contains over 35 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Importantly, this provisional figure is in line with figures for low carbon development recommended to the Indonesian Government by their own advisors. (1)
Bustar Maitar continued: “Protecting Indonesia’s forests is good for business, the environment and future generations of all Indonesians. The need for other palm oil producers to clean up their act is now pressing, for business and environmental reasons. The Government must back efforts like those announced today by insisting on similar standards across industries operating in forest areas.”
November 2007 – Greenpeace release report “Cooking the Climate” exposing the role of the palm oil industry in the destruction of Indonesia’s forests.
April 2008 – Greenpeace launch campaign against Unilever for buying palm oil from rainforest destruction.
May 2008 – Unilever undertakes to clear up supply chain and support moratorium on rainforest destruction.
December 2009 – Unilever drops €30 million contract with Sinar Mas’ palm oil arm Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) following a new Greenpeace report showing GAR’s involvement in the destruction of peatland, rainforests and orang-utan habitat.
March 2010 – Greenpeace launch campaign against Nestle for buying from GAR. Nestle, Kraft and Mars drop GAR contracts.
April 2010 – Nestle commit to new “no deforestation” policy.
August 2010 – GAR publish audit of own practises.
September 2010 - Burger King drops contract with GAR as a result of the audit.
September 2010 – The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) criticizes GAR for its environmental and social practices. It will report on its progress to address the issues raised in March 2011.
February 2011 – GAR commit to “Forest Conservation” Plan.
(1) BAPPENAS, the joint Indonesia National Development Planning Agency. Ref UN-REDD October 2010 draft National REDD+ Strategy, http://www.un.or.id/redd.