Deforestation halted by NDPE policy but ongoing monitoring needed

(foresthints.news) - While the supply chains of Wilmar International remain linked to deforestation and peat destruction, the world’s largest palm oil trader and its business partner, the Kencana Agri Group, have demonstrated a particularly relevant instance of a lesson learned by ending the expansion of two of their joint ventures’ palm oil concessions in Indonesia’s Gorontalo province.

After Wilmar declared its commitment to adopting a “No Deforestation, No Peat and Exploitation” (NDPE) policy in early December 2013, a report published by Greenomics Indonesia in June 2014 revealed that Wilmar’s joint venture palm oil companies were still clearing high carbon stock (HCS) forests. This case was reported by mongabay.com four years ago.

Nevertheless, the two palm oil companies concerned continued to clear HCS forests, at least until late December 2014, as seen in a spatial analysis performed by Greenomics using USGS Landsat 8 images. This was also covered by mongabay.com.

Below are two photos, taken from the Greenomics report (June 2014), depicting how logs were sourced from the clearing of HCS forests in Wilmar’s two joint venture palm oil concessions.

However, the Kencana Agri Group declared its commitment, with effect from January 19, 2015, to a moratorium on the clearing of potential HCS forests in the two palm oil concessions until HCS assessments are completed and acted on, as regularly reported in Wilmar’s grievance update reports.

These USGS Landsat 8 images, presented by Greenomics, portray the level of palm oil expansion in the two concessions one month before and after the moratorium was declared.

Consistency in NDPE policy compliance

Recently, in early March this year, Greenomics outlined the results of another spatial analysis using USGS Landsat 8 images which showed that, as of January 2018, technically speaking zero expansion had taken place in Wilmar’s two joint venture palm oil concessions.

What Wilmar and the Kencana Agri Group have demonstrated, by halting the clearance of HCS forests by their two joint venture palm oil companies for more than three years, according to Greenomics, is an example of the consistency of implementing an NDPE policy.

Greenomics promised to continue monitoring the operations of the two palm oil companies, in particular with regard to the consistency of Wilmar's commitment, which it has so far demonstrated in this case, to cleaning up its supply chains by stopping the clearing of HCS forests.

Helping to control deforestation

Meanwhile, in a speech (Jan 29) during which she spoke about the declining level of Indonesian deforestation over the last two years, Environment and Forestry Dr Minister Siti Nurbaya underlined that a number of companies that have declared their intention to clean up their supply chains from deforestation (through the adoption of an NDPE policy) have to prove their commitment on the ground.

According to the minister, this would help to further control the level of deforestation in Indonesia. She went on to warn companies that act differently. “If companies that have made a commitment then go on to commit violations, they will have made their lessons learned irrelevant.”

The minister’s public statement was made with good reason in a technical sense, considering that a series of the ministry’s ground inspections linked to peat violations have been made, all of which are related to the supply chains of NDPE companies working in either the palm oil or pulp and paper sectors.

recent example of the relevance of the minister’s statement was the uncovering of continuing peat destruction in Borneo’s peat restoration priority regency, which still involves the supply chains of NDPE companies.

Another example of such evidence is that of a palm oil supplier, which forms part of the supply chains of several NDPE companies, continuing to engage in new peat development in 2015’s burned peatlands in one of South Sumatra’s peat restoration priority regencies.