Palm oil lobby group misleads on origin of haze, fires

Commentary by Rhett A. Butler
mongabay.com
July 09, 2013



World Growth International, a group that lobbies on behalf of industrial forestry and palm oil companies, is clouding the origin of the fires that triggered 'haze' air pollution alerts across Singapore and Malaysia last month.

In a newsletter sent out July 2, World Growth claimed "the majority of fires were located either outside forestry or palm oil concessions, or in protected areas". It cited data from the World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit.

But WRI's analysis shows that, during the peak of the haze crisis, roughly half of the fire alerts in Sumatra occurred inside concessions. The data further reveals that the density of fire alerts inside of concessions was over three times higher than the density of alerts outside of concessions. Since concession holders are legally responsible for preventing and managing fires in their areas, the high number of fire alerts within concessions represents a serious problem for palm oil and timber companies. It certainly does not absolve them for partial responsibility from the fires.


WRI’s interactive map of the forest fires and concessions.


It isn't the first time World Growth has made questionable claims on industrial forestry. In 2011, the group was called out for using "false and misleading" information on the economic impact of reducing Indonesia's deforestation rate. In December 2010, Agus Purnomo, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's special assistant on climate change, said World Growth's chairman Alan Oxley was misrepresenting the objectives of Indonesia's proposed moratorium on new concessions in primary forest areas and peatlands. In November 2010, the group run by the late Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her tree-planting campaign in Africa, blasted Oxley for using her name to imply that she supports the large-scale conversion of tropical forests for industrial plantations. And in October 2010, a group of prominent scientists castigated Oxley. In an open letter the scientists identified World Growth International and the associated ITS Global as front groups for the palm oil, timber, and wood-pulp industries.

"A number of the key arguments of World Growth International, ITS Global, and Alan Oxley, represent significant distortions, misrepresentations, or misinterpretations of fact," said the open letter.

fate of forest lands deforested between 2007 and 2012 in Riau province in Sumatra
Fate of deforested lands in Riau, 2007-2012











AUTHOR: Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999. He currently serves as president, head writer, and chief editor.




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CITATION:
Commentary by Rhett A. Butler
mongabay.com (July 09, 2013).

Palm oil lobby group misleads on origin of haze, fires.

http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0709-world-growth-haze.html