Aug 24
Indonesian govt says no to converting peatland into plantations

Govt says no to converting peatland into plantations

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 08/23/2010 9:45 AM | Headlines

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan has turned down a request by the Central Kalimantan provincial administration to develop 127,000 hectares of peatland production forest for oil palm and mining sites.

The request was made by Central Kalimantan Governor Agustin Teras Narang and Katingan Regent Duel Rawing.

“Zulkifli rejected the request because peatland forests in Katingan are to be allocated for conservation projects,” Hadi Daryanto, the ministry’s director general of production forest development told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Central Kalimantan has the largest area of peatland of all the provinces. The peatland stores huge amounts of carbon.

Last month, UN climate adviser and philanthropist George Soros visited Katingan to inspect peatlands in the area, but Hadi was quick to point out that Soros’s visit had nothing to do with the government’s rejection.

The governments of Indonesia and Norway signed a letter of intent (LoI) on a climate deal in May requiring Indonesia, the world’s third-largest forest nation, to slow down forest loss. In return, Indonesia would receive US$1 billion from Norway under a climate change scheme.

The government would stop issuing new permits to convert natural forest and peatland for two years starting in 2011 with the pilot project for the moratorium to be announced in October at the latest.

A source told the Post that Central Kalimantan would likely host the pilot project.

Indonesia has 120 million hectares of forest, but the country’s deforestation rate hovers at 1 million hectares per year.

Zulkifli has repeatedly claimed he had not issued any permit to convert peatland for commercial purposes since he took office last year.

The 2007 Spatial Law prohibits the conversion of peatland with a depth of more than 3 meters.

Hadi said the ministry would implement new forestry mechanisms to shift income from selling timbers to ecosystem restoration projects. “Indonesia is the first country to implement the so-called innovative forestry mechanism,” he said.

The conservation projects would be held in former logging areas to restore damaged ecosystems and biodiversity.

Concession holders can reap money from trading in carbon in the forests, environmental services or opening ecotourism sites in the area.

“They could still be allowed to harvest timber, but it would not be their core business,” he said.

The permit for ecosystem restoration projects would be valid for 60 years and could be extended for another 35 years.

The ministry is looking to allocate 500,000 hectares per year for ecosystem restoration activities.

A map issued by the ministry indicates that conservationists could run ecosystem restoration projects in 40 million hectares in the country.

So far this year, the ministry has issued permits to PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI) in Jambi and South Sumatra with 98,000 hectares and another 86,450 hectares to PT Orangutan Habitat Restoration Indonesia in the East Kutai district of East Kalimantan.

Aug 24

Malaysian planters urged to take cue from Sinar Mas case

By Amy Chew

Tuesday August 24, 2010

JAKARTA: Malaysian palm oil producers should heed the case of Sinar Mas Group where claims of forest destruction committed by its palm oil unit, PT Smart, led international consumer companies, including Unilever, to stop buying palm oil from the company, said environmentalists.

According to Greenpeace, Malaysian palm oil producers operating in Indonesia could suffer the same fate if they did not practice sustainable palm oil production.

“What happened to Sinar Mas can also happen to Malaysian companies who own about 30% of the palm oil companies in Indonesia,” said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace South-East Asia forest campaigner team leader.

Unilever told StarBiz yesterday they would not be resuming purchase of PT Smart’s crude palm oil (CPO) for the time being.

“We would like to see additional measures to be taken to ensure sustainable palm oil production,” Sher Afzal Masari, Unilever corporate relations director for Asia, Africa, Middle East and Turkey, said.

Masari said Unilver would like Smart’s parent company, Golden Agri Resources (GAR), to have Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification for “all of its palm oil plantations.”

“We would also like GAR to set a target date for the certification,” Masari added.

Greenpeace’s claims that Smart was destroying forests and peatland had led Nestle SA, the world’s largest nutrition and food company, Unilever, the second largest consumer goods company as well as Kraft to halt multi-million contracts with Smart.

“Large consumer companies like Unilver, Nestle and Kraft do not want to be associated with forest destruction in Indonesia, Malaysia and anywhere else in the world,” Maitar added.

Unilever said it would also like GAR to operate more transparently and make publicly available a list of their forest concenssions and where they are planted.

“Sustainable palm oil is the way of the future and it is a requirement for any long-term supplier,” said Masari.

“Sustainable palm oil is also good for the sustainability of the palm oil industry, for all stakeholders and the wider public in Indonesia and Malaysia,” said Masari.

Unilever aims to be have 100% certified sustainable palm oil supply by 2015.

“And we are on track to achieve that target. By the middle of this year, we already have 35% RSPO for our supply,” said Masari.

At the end of 2009, 15% of Unilever’s CPO was RSOP. That amount comprised 80% of the total global RSPO supply.

Last Friday, Smart image took a further dent when independent auditors hired by the company to investigate Greenpeace claims announced the firm had “misreported” elements of its report when it declared itself largely free from wrong doings.

An environmental consultant said Sinar Mas’ woes with Greenpeace should not be viewed as a public relations war but an opportunity to investigate what is happening on the ground.

“Palm oil companies should not view the NGOs attacks on them as just another PR war,” said Rezal Kusumaatmadja, partner of Starling Resources.

Starling Resources is an independent sustainable natural resource management consultancy.

“Instead, they should treat the criticisms as an opportunity to examine what is really happening on the ground and find ways to improve the situation,” he added.

Sinar Mas started off on the right when they appointed independent auditors.

“But instead of addressing the problem identified in the audit report head on, they resorted to a panicky PR spin.

“Relying on too much on spin with little concrete follow up actions will cost them their credibility,” said Rezal.

Aug 24

Norway Government Pension Fund-Global, Oslo, divested from three companies found by the Norwegian Finance Ministry to be “contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity,” Finance Minister Sigbjorn Johnsen said in a news release.

The 2.79 trillion Norwegian kroner ($446.7 billion) sovereign wealth fund, which invests state profits from sales of Norway’s oil reserves, sold its shares in Israeli companies Africa Israel Investments and subsidiary Danya Cebus, and the Malaysian company Samling Global, according to the release.

The ministry’s Council on Ethics recommended the divestment, saying the Israeli companies were involved in building settlements in occupied Palestinian territory and Samling Global, a wood and palm oil company, engaged in illegal logging and other offenses.

The fund owned stocks worth 7.2 million kroner in Africa Israel Investments and 8.1 million kroner in Samling Global as of Dec. 31.

Sep 20

0 Comments Written by in Palm Oil

How does palm oil production affect the survival of orangutans and their rainforest habitat?