Palm oil Indonesia update

December 13, 2016

Indonesia is at a critical juncture between economic development and the preservation of its unique and critically important ecosystems including Leuser. There is pressure for companies to immediately suspend suppliers who breach No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments. Supplier suspension has been used when suppliers continue to breach commitments, but supplier suspension in general has not proved to be the most effective means of reducing deforestation. This is because suspended suppliers can continue to clear forests while selling to other refinery companies that are not committed to responsible sourcing. It is better to first engage these suppliers to really understand issues.

Consequently, TFT works with its members to support the NDPE commitments by engaging with all key entities in the palm oil supply chain, from smallholders to global brands. Significant progress has been achieved with members working on supply chain traceability throughout the supply chain. We have conducted reviews of the operations of supply bases (including plantations) of over 100 mills, and supporting over 900 companies (mills and plantations) across Indonesia about NDPE commitments. However, both TFT and our members recognise that serious breaches against NDPE commitments still exist.

We believe there is a need to focus collaborations into specific places that are at threat. TFT is moving forward with practical collaboration by working together with our members in multi-stakeholder and multi-commodity Areal Prioritas Transformasi (APTs) Aceh Tamiang, Aceh Singkil and in East Riau. APT seeks to support and contribute to the government’s land-use planning process in order to create resilient and thriving ecosystems and communities.

The target areas will work as places where activities with members including Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil company, are focused and intensified in a unified push towards transformation. In these arenas, TFT’s members will support the engagement and mapping of the supply chain and the stakeholders, and the development of a baseline map and monitoring of forest loss through Starling.

The selection of the three APT target areas was influenced through a series of ongoing engagements and dialogues with key advocacy Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including Rainforest Action Network, to understand where best our efforts should be focused. Most CSOs have been strong advocates for urgent action in Singkil, a district within Aceh Province that borders the Leuser Ecosystem and features the largest, deepest and most intact peatlands in Aceh.

CSOs and environmental consultancies, including IdH, have also drawn our attention to Aceh Tamiang which overlaps 38% with the Leuser Ecosystem and is suffering significant rates of deforestation and encroachment.

Through working in these two areas TFT will collaborate with other stakeholders. TFT will add to our intelligence through further mill assessments, Starling and ground-truthing. Starling, developed with Airbus and SarVision, uses a combination of high resolution radar and optical satellite imagery to provide monitoring of land cover change, focusing on forest cover loss. Starling will empower companies to independently verify their sustainability commitments, quantify the effectiveness of their actions and be alerted to environment degradation as it happens, including HCV/HCS, allowing them to take preventative actions.

This information will be collated and fed through via a selected stakeholder to the district and provincial level government for consideration in their land use planning processes. APT is an evolving strategy and TFT will continue to share regular updates on progress.

Learn more about TFT’s work in Leuser