Musim Mas respects GenP decision considered an ‘old dirty trick’

(foresthints.news) - The exit strategy pursued by Genting Plantations (GenP), the listed plantation arm of Malaysia's gaming giant Genting, which failed to keep its promise of maintaining high carbon stock (HCS) forests in its palm oil concession by selling off its controlling stake in the palm oil company PT PSM, has been openly and strongly condemned.

The HCS forests spread among the palm oil concession - located in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency - whose permit was sold by GenP are predominantly composed of the Bornean orangutan’s habitat according to spatial data from IUCN.

Deborah Lapidus, Campaigns Director at the Mighty Earth, a Washington-based global campaign organization, retweeted (Aug 30) a news report from foresthints.news (Aug 29) which revealed GenP’s exit strategy of running way from its HCS forest conservation promises.

“Genting is evading its promise to protect forests by selling its plantation to another company which will likely clear it. It’s an old dirty trick.”

The Mighty Earth, among other things, places significant focus on the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia. As such, GenP’s exit strategy was certain to be of concern to the organization.

GenP's broken promise to preserve the HCS forests in the palm oil concession it sold means that major swathes of these forests, in which the Bornean orangutan lives, are now merely waiting to be cleared by the new owner of the former GenP palm oil concession.

The following Google Earth images (7/31/2014) show how the HCS forests, including the Bornean orangutan’s habitat, situated in a different GenP palm oil concession exactly adjacent to the palm oil concession sold have been cleared. This would indicate that the former GenP palm oil concession will also be subject to such clearing.  

Musim Mas expresses respect for decision

Considering that the former GenP palm oil concession is home to the Bornean orangutan - a critically-endangered species -foresthints.news emailed (Aug 29) the corporate communications department of the Musim Mas Group (MMG), due to this group’s position as the contact party for the PONGO Alliance, to ask for the alliance’s response to the significant threat posed to the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the former GenP palm oil concession.

The PONGO Alliance, which brought together the world’s largest palm oil companies and a number of wildlife conservation experts and NGOs, was launched in June this year with the goal of saving 10,000 orangutans found in non-certified palm oil concessions in Borneo.

In its written response to foresthints.news (Aug 30), Musim Mas declared its respect for the decision taken by GenP (to sell its palm oil concession). It should be noted that in March 2015, Musim Mas and GenP, in a joint venture, established a palm oil refinery in Sabah, Malaysia. 

“Through our engagement, we understand that Genting has consulted the NGOs on PT PSM's development plans,” MMG Corporate Communications Manager Carolyn Lim wrote in the email to foresthints.news.

She continued, “Given that extensive discussions have taken place and stakeholders have been consulted, we respect that the decision by Genting to divest PT PSM is a result of having accommodated stakeholders' concerns and commercial considerations.” 

The MMG spokesperson did not detail which NGOs were consulted by GenP on the sale of the palm oil plantation development permit to another party which, according to Musim Mas, was what elicited their respect for GenP’s decision.  

Furthermore, Carolyn did not comment on the reaction of the PONGO Alliance to the likely clearance of the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the HCS forests located in the former GenP palm oil concession.

The following Google Earth images (7/31/2014) depict examples of the clearing of HCS forests, including the Bornean orangutan's habitat, which will take place in the former GenP palm oil concession if the Malaysian company's New Planting Procedures (NPP) submitted to the RSPO at the end of June 2014 are adopted by the palm oil concession's new owner.

It will certainly be relevant to observe the role played by the PONGO Alliance in attempting to save the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the former GenP concession, bearing in mind that Wilmar is also a member of the alliance.

Wilmar is pertinent in this case because GenP’s promise to protect the HCS forests in PT PSM’s concession, when the concession was yet to be sold, received public exposure through Wilmar’s grievance report.

It is thus more than reasonable to expect the PONGO Alliance - especially with the presence of Wilmar in it - to be able to do something to help protect the HCS forests in the former GenP palm oil concession, which still play host to the rapidly vanishing Bornean orangutan.