Landsat images released by Greenomics showing clearing by Sumatera Jaya Agro Lestari near 110°22’29.354″E 0°23’27.682″S
A Wilmar supplier is allegedly destroying orangutan habitat in Indonesian Borneo, potentially putting it in breach of the plantation giant’s zero deforestation policy, reports Greenomics.
According to analysis of satellite data by Greenomics, PT Sumatera Jaya Agro Lestari (SJAL) has cleared an area of forest that is classified as orangutan habitat. Greenomics says the clearing has occurred since Wilmar’s zero deforestation commitment went into effect. The allegations are corroborated by Global Forest Watch, which registers recent deforestation alerts in the area.
Reached by Mongabay.com, Wilmar says it is investigating the matter. If it is confirmed that SJAL is clearing high conservation value and high carbon stock forest, Wilmar would first engage with the company before taking punitive action.
“If a supplier is found to have started clearing HCS or HCV, our preferred approach is always to first engage with the supplier, then work with and provide support to them to immediately shift development away from these areas,” Wilmar told Mongabay via email. “Only when remedial actions are not taken to correct these violations would we then go down the route of discontinuing business with them.”
“Past experience shows that merely cutting suppliers off does not help advance or achieve the sustainability cause. We believe that it is only through constructive dialogue and close cooperation with our suppliers and other key stakeholders like NGOs, financial institutions and end-user customers would it be possible to transform the industry towards sustainable development.”
Global Forest Watch image showing FORMA alerts near the site identified by Greenomics. FORMA is a vegetation change detection system that can reveal deforestation on a monthly basis
Wilmar established its “No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation” policy last December after a long-running campaign by environmentalists and rights groups. The policy commits it to sourcing palm oil from plantations that have stopped clearing forests and peatlands. The policy also includes social and labor standards in an industry where abuse is rife.
Wilmar is in the process of developing a system for reporting breaches of its commitment.
“[The] Grievance Procedure mechanism that will enable any stakeholder to raise concerns about our suppliers. All grievances logged under the Grievance Procedure will be dealt with in a timely manner, and all findings will be reported,” it said.
“We urge NGOs and other stakeholders to raise their concerns regarding any supplier either directly with Wilmar or with the RSPO (if the alleged supplier is also a RSPO member), rather than solely via media channels, to enable issues to be addressed in an effective and timely manner.”
Wilmar produces or trades roughly 45 percent of global palm oil. The company hopes that the zero deforestation policy will lead buyers to view it as a safe and non-controversial source of palm oil, which is used in products ranging from snack foods to shampoo. In many markets, palm oil has been tarnished by its association with large-scale destruction of rainforests and peatlands across Indonesia and Malaysia.