BGA confirms no new peat planting in orangutan habitat

(foresthints.news) - Singapore listed Bumitama Agri Ltd - the subsidiary of parent company Bumitama Gunajaya Agro (BGA) - has confirmed that its operations will not be linked to new peat development in its newly-acquired palm oil concession (PT DAS) in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency.

The land cover of the palm oil concession, which was acquired in December last year, spans almost 10 thousand soccer fields and still consists of significant swathes of forested peat areas which are home to the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan.

Lim Sian Choo, BGA’s Group Head of Corporate Secretariat Services and CSR, reaffirmed her company’s policy to foresthints.news (Sep 13) in Jakarta, saying, “BGA can confirm that it will not be undertaking new peat planting for new palm oil plantations in the PT DAS concession, either in peat protection or cultivation zones.”

As to the peat cultivation zone opened by PT DAS (before it was acquired by BGA), she explained that this will be allocated for the development of food sources (not palm oil) in engagement with the local community, and would not involve new peat forest clearing or canal development.

She went on to say that the new canals developed by the former owner of the palm oil company will be blocked to close access to illegal logging practices, among other reasons.

Meanwhile, according to Lim, roads that have been constructed in parts of the concession will be revegetated for peat recovery purposes.

“We are continuing to consult with local and central governments with regard to these efforts in order to ensure that our peat recovery work stays on track legally,” she added.

At the end of March this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry conducted a ground inspection with respect to peat violations (new peat development) committed by PT DAS. The two photos below show examples of these peat violations.

Move welcomed

BGA also confirmed that its move has been met with a positive response from local governments.

“The West Kalimantan Governor and Ketapang Regent both declared their support for our company policy. This move we are making forms part of our legal compliance with Indonesia’s new peat regulations,” Lim pointed out.

In early April of this year, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya wrote to the West Kalimantan Governor, also forwarding a copy to the Ketapang Regent, spelling out the peat violations that had previously occurred in the PT DAS concession.

The letter requested the Governor's willingness and cooperation in ensuring that no further such peat violations take place in this palm oil concession.

The two photos below demonstrate that the land cover in major parts of the PT DAS concession is still composed of relatively intact peat forests.

The peat protection and cultivation zones referred to by BGA make up part of an ecosystem map released at the end of February this year by Minister Siti Nurbaya.

The map itself derives from the implementation of the newly-revised government regulation on peat protection and management signed by President Joko Widodo in early December last year.

Before the newly-revised government regulation banning any new peat development was issued, Minister Siti Nurbaya had already followed up on the President's order by sending out a circular letter to palm oil and forestry companies in early November 2015, also forbidding them from carrying out new peat development in their concessions.