Note: In an unsurprising bit of news, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil isn’t doing much to protect forest-dependent communities from displacement and exploitation. And, once again, flawed models of carbon-centric conservation are violating the rights and livelihoods of those communities. Maybe the solution is no more oil palm plantations…
-The GJEP Team
January 17, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme
A new report, launched today, shows that efforts by one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil companies, PT SMART, to set aside forests as ‘carbon stores’ in the centre of Borneo are flawed. Indigenous peoples and local fisherfolk are objecting to the way these impositions curtail their land rights and restrict their livelihoods.
PT SMART trades under the Sinar Mas brand and is part of the Singapore-based Golden Agri Resources group (GAR) which also includes Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Sinar Mas Forestry.
After being strongly criticised by environmental campaigners for clearing forests and planting on peatlands, which led companies like Unilever and Nestlé to temporarily suspend purchases from the company, GAR agreed to stop such activities. It then adopted a new Forest Conservation Policy, by which it assesses the carbon in forests in its concessions and sets aside areas of ‘high carbon stocks’.
The new policy is now being piloted in one of PT SMART’s eight oil palm concessions in West and Central Kalimantan, PT Kartika Prima Cipta (PT KPC) in Kapuas Hulu district, an upland area famous for its large lakes, extensive peat swamps and productive inland fisheries. The PT KPC concession overlaps the lands of Dayak and Malay communities. Both PT SMART and GAR are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), whose standards require that companies respect community rights and only acquire their lands subject to their ‘free, prior and informed consent.’