Indonesia’s fire crisis is a test of corporate commitment to forest protection

Publication - November 20, 2015
Forest and peatland destruction by ‘sustainable’ palm oil companies, including Fonterra supplier Wilmar, is fuelling forest fires in Borneo, a new investigation by Greenpeace International has revealed.

Greenpeace researchers examined three plantations in West and Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) where major fires were recorded during the 2015 haze crisis. In each case, there had been widespread deforestation and peatland drainage prior to the fires breaking out. Deforestation and draining of peatland are widely recognised as the root cause of the fires crisis.

Palm oil from these plantations is supplied to international markets through commodities traders including Wilmar International, who supply Fonterra with palm kernel expeller, used as a feed for cattle.

Indonesia’s fire crisis, the result of decades of wholesale forest and peatland destruction, has put Indonesia’s plantation industries in the global spotlight. Global consumer companies and traders must face up to their role in fuelling this disaster. Existing ‘No Deforestation’ policies and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) membership are not enough.

President Joko Widodo has taken the long overdue political step of issuing an official instruction ordering an end to further development on peat – a critical first move toward reversing this destructive commodity-driven legacy.

The plantation sector – and the global market it supplies – must act quickly and decisively to support the president's reforms and agree industry-wide action to reverse deforestation and improve transparency and accountability within the forestry sector.

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Under Fire