Tag Archives: palm oil plantations

Indonesian palm oil developer’s efforts to conserve ‘forest carbon’ abuse community rights

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.’
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Filed under Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs

US ambassador to Honduras offers tacit support of brutal crackdown

By Lauren Carasik, January 7, 2014. Source: Al Jazeera America

Police officers detain a protester outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa in 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Police officers detain a protester outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa in 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

In remarks last month, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske decried pervasive impunity in Honduras as the single biggest threat to human rights during an International Human Rights Daycommemoration. In a country already plagued by grinding poverty and unrelenting violence, entrenched impunity does present a terrifying threat to justice. However, despite her own admission that the Honduran legal system is dysfunctional, Kubiske blamed those being oppressed by that impunity for taking the law into their own hands to defend their rights.

Kubiske specifically reproached peasant farmers in the fertile lands of the Lower Aguan Valley, who are engaged in a desperate struggle with local wealthy landowners and the government for control over their lands, which has left 113 members of their campesino community dead since the 2009 coup that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Over the last two decades, campesinos lost the lands granted to them in the 1970s under agrarian reform initiatives through a combination of corruption, intimidation, intentional division, force and fraud. Efforts to seek legal redress were largely unsuccessful. Zelaya was ousted shortly after he vowed to institute measures that would reverse illegitimate land grabs by oligarchs, including Miguel Facusse Barjum, a palm-oil magnate.

When land grabs continued under President Porfirio Lobo, a landowner, the campesinos, with no other options, resisted the encroachment by peacefully occupying their lands. State security and paramilitary forces responded with escalating repression and bloodshed. Last month, after a complaint lodged by Rights Action, an international human-rights organization, the World Bank’s independent auditor issued a report on its private lending arm’s funding for Dinant Corp., which is headed by Facusse Barjum. World Bank President Jim Kim has indicated that he is preparing an action plan in response to the findings. As the investigative process drags on, repression continues unabated in the Lower Aguan.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, World Bank

Singapore chokes on haze from Sumatra fires. Again. Wasn’t REDD supposed to stop this?

By Chris Lang, June 25, 2013

2013-06-25-124745_319x327_scrotLast week, the pollution from fires in Sumatra set new records. The smoke in Singapore this year is worse than it was in 1997 and 2002, both years of major forest burning in Indonesia.

World Resources Institute has produced an analysis of where the fires are, based on NASA’s Active Fire Data and the Ministry of Forestry’s concession maps. WRI found that most of the fires are in Riau province, and almost half are inside concessions for oil palm plantations or industrial tree plantations. According to the data, the largest number of fires are within concessions belonging to the Sinar Mas and Raja Garuda Mas (RGM) groups.

Indonesia’s coordinating minister for people’s welfare, Agung Laksono, is the minister responsible for coordinating Indonesia’s response. He seems to have failed to grasp the seriousness of the problem.

“Singapore should not be behaving like a child and making all this noise,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.
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Filed under Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, REDD

“If companies are stealing the timber, why should I be a bystander?” Notes from a visit to Ulu Masen, Aceh

By Chris Lang, February 22, 2013.  Source: redd-monitor

pll98-3wADusun Guhanaga is a village in Aceh in an area called Gunung Hijau (Rain Mountain). The road to the village is an ex-logging road built by PT Aceh Inti Timber. When the company was awarded the HPH (Hak Pengusahaan Hutan) Forest Concession, it immediately started logging the forest outside the concession area.

In 2002, PT Aceh Inti Timber had concessions covering an area of 125,000 hectares, according to the Association of Indonesian Concession Holders. Having seen logging companies ransacking the forests outside concession areas, villagers also logged the forests. One Dusun Guhanaga villager asked, “If companies are stealing the timber, why should I be a bystander?”

We travelled to the village in December 2012 with Suhelmi, the vice-chairman of the House of Representatives in Calang, the capital of Aceh Jaya Regency. Previously, Suhelmi was amukim, the leader of several villages, and part of Aceh’s customary legal system.

We sat in a shop in the village with Suhelmi and drank coffee. Eight men sat around smoking. There were two women in head-scarves, one of whom was singing quietly and putting a baby to sleep. A radio blasted Indonesian pop music from the shop next door. Cats and chickens wandered in and out of the shop.
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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Illegal logging, Land Grabs, Mining

Ethiopians ‘driven out in land grabs’

February 8, 2013.  Source: UPI

Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Thousands of Ethiopians are being driven off ancestral lands that the government’s selling to foreign investors buying vast swathes of farmland, a U.S. watchdog reports.

Amid a new rash of land grabs in Africa by foreign governments or business groups seeking to produce food for export, the Oakland Institute of California says that Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest states, has leased 1.5 million acres of prime farmland to companies from India, Malaysia and elsewhere.

The institute, an independent policy think tank that specializes in food and land issues, says the crisis is likely to worsen as the foreign companies move in and start operations.

It said the Addis Ababa government plans to lease as much as 15 percent of the land in some regions of the land-locked East African country, which has long been beset by drought, famine and war.
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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Land Grabs

Corporations, investors grabbing land overseas

Note: More evidence that a switch to biofuels will lead to land grabbing, human rights violations and increased corporate control across the world.

-The GJEP Team

By Brian Bienkowski, February 12, 2013.  Source: Environmental Health News


As a growing population stresses the world’s food and water supplies, corporations and investors in wealthy countries are buying up foreign farmland and the freshwater perks that come with it.

From Sudan to Indonesia, most of the land lies in poverty-stricken regions, so experts warn that this widespread purchasing could expand the gap between developed and developing countries.

Investors from seven countries – the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom, Egypt, China and Israel – accounted for 60 percent of the water acquired under these deals.The “water grabbing” by corporations amounts to 454 billion cubic meters per year globally, according to a new study by environmental scientists. That’s about 5 percent of the water the world uses annually.

Most purchasers are agricultural, biofuel and timber investors. Some of the more active buyers in the United States, which leads the pack in number of deals, include multinational investors Nile Trading and Development, BHP Billiton, Unitech and media magnate Ted Turner, according to the study published last month.
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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, World Bank

Q&A: Fighting to save Africa’s richest rainforest

 Note: Palm oil plantations have caused land grabs and displacement of rural people across the world.  While industrial palm oil plantations-and their associated displacements, political repression, and violence-must be stopped, there is great risk in the “alternatives,”  like REDD+, offered by some NGOs, industrialized nations and corporations, .  Some countries have even pushed for palm plantations to be included in REDD+ programs. GJEP  has documented the impacts that REDD+ and other “payment for ecosystem services” projects have on local communities in Chiapas, Mexico and beyond.  Watch GJEP and Global Forest Coalition’s short film, A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests, and read more here: http://bit.ly/12Ccnml.

-The GJEP Team

By Monde Kingsley Nfor, December 20, 2012.  Source: Inter Press Service

Photo: Frank Bieleu/Oakland Institute

Photo: Frank Bieleu/Oakland Institute

Protests against a controversial palm oil plantation in the Korup National Park, Africa’s oldest and richest rainforest in terms of floral and faunal diversity, in Mundemba, southwest Cameroon will continue despite the arrests and intimidation of local environmental campaigners.

Nasako Besingi, the director of the local NGO Struggle to Economize the Future, told IPS “we won’t stop until environmental justice is done.”

The New York-based agricultural company, Herakles Farms, has been accused of grabbing a piece of this central African nation’s national forest as it goes ahead with a 73,000-hectare palm oil plantation despite a lack of government authorisation – there are claims that the 99-year lease agreement with the government is illegal – and two court injunctions, and in the face of significant community opposition.

The contested land is a “biodiversity hotspot”, a critical area that connects five protected areas in the park, and the project will disrupt the protection and growth of important wildlife, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) said in an environmental and social impact assessment in August.
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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, REDD

Action Alert: Stop EU free trade agreement and rainforest destruction in Colombia and Peru

Note:  Palm oil production is a main driver of deforestation in Indonesia.  It will certainly have the same impact in Peru and Colombia.  Using monoculture tree plantations to replace our insatiable need for fossil fuels is dangerous.  Increasing the presence of palm oil plantations also supports the development of new genetically engineered tree species, like GE Eucalyptus, which are more suited to thrive in fast growing plantations.  Sign the petition to stop GE trees here.  And sign on to stop the free trade agreement between the EU, Peru and Colombia here

-The GJEP Team

December 4, 2012.  Source: Rainforest-Rescue

Conflicts between local residents and mining companies over land and water in Peru and Colombia have worsened steadily in recent years. In August 2012, 148 environmental conflicts that cost 16 human lives were listed in Peru. The situation is even worse in Colombia. Transnational corporations are destroying the environment while maintaining documented connections to paramilitary organizations that silence critical voices. 34 trade unionists were killed in 2012 alone.

The situation threatens to escalate further with the adoption of a free trade agreement between the EU, Colombia and Peru. Binding environmental and human rights standards were removed from the agreement under pressure from the industry – despite the fact that the EU itself has noted in a report that without such standards, the free trade agreement would endanger water quality and biodiversity in both countries and promote the destruction of fragile ecosystems. Even in prior trade agreements with Colombia and Peru, these standards were more pronounced.

In addition to mining and oil drilling, palm oil plays an important role in the agreement – it is slated for duty-free import in order to satisfy Europe’s hunger for cheap vegetable oil. This is an incentive to expand the plantations in both countries. In Colombia, oil palm plantations already cover 360,000 hectares. The palm oil boom has spared Peru so far. Yet plans have been drawn up that mark over 4.3 million hectares of rainforest territory as suitable for oil palm plantations. Pilot projects are already showing the devastating effects of monocultures on the people and environment in Peru.

Please urge EU parliamentarians to reject the free trade agreement for social and environmental reasons. 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees