November 18, 2019

GAR’s peat rehabilitation site burned again

JAKARTA ( - At the end of November last year, the RSPO published a report consisting of six case studies which it claimed represented the best management practices implemented by its members in reducing total emissions from palm oil production.

One of the case studies from the RSPO report - which was compiled by Winrock International - was a peat rehabilitation project in PT AMNL, a palm oil concession owned by Golden Agri-Resources (GAR/Sinarmas) covering the equivalent of more than 2,600 soccer fields in West Kalimantan's Ketapang regency. 

The peat rehabilitation project site inside this concession was set aside by GAR for conservation purposes after the company adopted a high carbon stock (HCS) assessment methodology as part of its forest conservation policy (FCP) launched in February 2011.

Despite this, almost all of this HCS forest block was burned by very serious peat fires in 2015. In the wake of this incident, in November 2015, GAR launched a project to rehabilitate the burned HCS forests in PT AMNL. 

Unfortunately, however, over 40% of the peat rehabilitation site was ravaged by fires again this September, undoubtedly contributing to the haze-causing fires emanating from Indonesian Borneo.

The following LandViewer images show parts of the burned GAR peat rehabilitation site. Whatever the reason for the fires, this underlines that GAR remains linked to this year’s haze-causing fires, some of which originated from the palm oil concession it controls.

New lesson learned

The re-burning of the GAR peat rehabilitation site this year belies its selection as one of the examples of best management practices documented in the RSPO report.

This year’s haze-causing peat fires in the GAR peat rehabilitation project serve as a new lesson learned to be included in forthcoming RSPO publications with regard to the best management practices implemented by its members. 

It is safe to say that any efforts to reduce emissions from this GAR peat rehabilitation initiative have been substantially undermined by the significant extent of these haze-causing peat fires. 

The haze-causing fires in the GAR peat rehabilitation site this year also further lengthen the list of RSPO members with concessions linked to such fires.

Many palm oil concessions which are RSPO members, in addition to their supply chains, cannot escape the fact that they have been among the sources of haze-causing fires which have resulted in serious health problems in affected provinces in Indonesia and also played a part in transboundary haze.

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry asserted that the RSPO should reassess its own position given that more than half the palm oil concessions sealed by the authorities are in fact RSPO members, as previously reported by (Nov 6).