Economy November 27, 2017 | 4:02 pm

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Indonesia’s forests still under threat from palm oil industry, new research shows

Fire, sumatra-sy palm-oil plantation

Nusa Dua, Bali.– As the industry gathers in Bali for the
annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil conference, a new report by
Greenpeace International reveals that suppliers to the world’s biggest
consumer brands still cannot guarantee their palm oil is free from forest
destruction. None of the companies could prove there was no deforestation
in their palm oil supply chain.

The palm oil industry is a leading cause of deforestation in Indonesia.
Three years after the world’s biggest palm oil traders adopted ‘no
deforestation’ policies, Greenpeace International examined 11 traders to
see how much progress they had made. Not only were they unable to prove
their suppliers were not destroying rainforests, but most could not say
when their supply chain would be deforestation-free.

“The palm oil industry is still broken and our report shows the traders
don’t have a plan to fix it. Instead of taking their commitments seriously,
most traders have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that pretends everything
is under control while Indonesia’s forests go up in smoke,” said Bagus
Kusuma, forest campaigner with Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

These findings will be met with alarm by household brands that use palm
oil. Most brands, including the 400 companies in the Consumer Goods Forum,
have committed to clean up their palm oil supply by 2020. Only two of the
traders Greenpeace International assessed were planning to meet that
deadline. The vast majority had no deadlines at all, leaving their
customers with no way to stop dirty palm oil entering their products.

“This is a wake up call for brands such as PepsiCo, Unilever, Procter &
Gamble and Mondelez, which promised their customers they’d cut their ties
with forest destruction. Consumer brands cannot rely upon palm oil traders
to deliver them deforestation-free palm oil. Instead, brands need to step
up and make traders cut off growers that won’t change their dirty

The situation is critical for Indonesia’s forests. The country has lost 31
million hectares of forest – an area almost the size of Germany – since
1990. Deforestation is also a major threat to the endangered animals
who live there, such as orangutans. This year, a study published on Borneo
and Sumatra orangutans showed that the population has significantly
declined, with destruction of their habitat a leading cause of the crisis.

Greenpeace is calling on palm oil traders and brands to keep their promises
and stop buying from companies still clearing rainforests.

Key findings from the assessment:

– None of the companies surveyed were able to say with any certainty
that there is no deforestation in their palm oil supply chain.
– Although 10 of the 11 traders had a ‘no deforestation’ policy, only
two of them had set an implementation deadline. The others were unable to
say by when they will clean up their palm oil supply.
– Most traders did not have maps of their suppliers’ plantations, making
it impossible to find out whether they were clearing forests or not.

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