Indonesian palm oil giant launches conservation pilot project

Diana Parker, Mongabay-Indonesia correspondent
March 19, 2013

Oil palm plantation and forest in Borneo

Golden Agri-Resources, one of the largest palm oil producers in Indonesia, is launching a pilot program designed to protect forests within its concession areas that have high carbon stock and those most important for conservation. Greenpeace Indonesia, which has long urged the company to adopt more sustainable practices, praised the effort, and called on other palm oil companies and the Indonesian government to follow suit.

Under its Forest Conservation Policy, developed together with Greenpeace Indonesia and the Forest Trust in 2011, GAR commits to not develop palm oil plantations in peatlands or in areas determined to be High Carbon Stock (HCS) or High Conservation Value (HCV) forests. Instead, GAR said it will work with local governments and communities to conserve HCS and HCV forests inside all its active concessions, beginning with a pilot project in its PT Kartika Prima Cipta concession in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province. The policy will apply to all GAR operations, including concessions managed by subsidiaries and in GAR’s operations in Liberia.

The policy was developed amid pressure from consumers and campaigns by environmental organizations such as Greenpeace against deforestation and destruction of peatlands for palm oil plantations in Indonesia. Greenpeace Indonesia welcomed GAR’s commitment, particularly the fact that the policy contains tangible steps, including a specific methodology for determining HCS forest. These steps, Greenpeace said, will be crucial in breaking the link between palm oil and rapid deforestation in Indonesia.

Orangutans inhabit the region where GAR is running its conservation pilot program.

“The future of Indonesia’s tropical forests still hangs in the balance,” said Greenpeace Indonesia director Bustar Maitar. “Less than three months from now, the [government’s] logging moratorium will be lifted. The government of Indonesia should see the step being taken today as a strong signal that government, industry, and civil society together can bring change and protect tropical rainforests in Indonesia.”

However some remain skeptical of the policy. GAR was among the companies recently sold by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global for its involvement in deforestation, and its parent company, Sinar Mas Group, has been criticized by Greenomics-Indonesia for clearing over 40,000 trees in West Kalimantan.

Source: Komitmen ‘Hijau’ Produsen Sawit Golden Agri Resources, Fakta di Lapangan Menanti.

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(02/09/2011) One of the world's highest profile and most controversial palm oil companies, Golden Agri-Resources Limited (GAR), has signed an agreement committing it to protect tropical forests and peatlands in Indonesia. The deal—signed with The Forest Trust, an environmental group that works with companies to improve their supply chains—could have significant ramifications for how palm oil is produced in the country, which is the world's largest producer of palm oil.

Diana Parker, Mongabay-Indonesia correspondent (March 19, 2013).

Indonesian palm oil giant launches conservation pilot project.