July 11, 2018

Decision taken by peat agency over MoU with RSPO

( - A review conducted by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) concerning an MoU it signed with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in May this year, as previously reported on by  (Jul 9), has resulted in a decision to put this MoU on hold.

This signifies that the development of all programs relating to the content of the MoU is to be discontinued until the peat agency has a collaborative agreement with the ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil).

This outcome of the decision taken yesterday (Jul 10) was confirmed by peat agency chief Nazir Foead today (Jul 11).

In the event of a decision to reactivate its MoU with the RSPO at some future time, he explained, the peat agency would still need to revise and adjust its content, especially in light of the impending presidential regulation on the ISPO and given that quite a lot of ISPO members are also RSPO members.

"In reality, this decision means that no activities are being carried out which refer to the MoU with the RSPO," Nazir asserted.

In his explanation to, he described the current efforts being made by the peat agency in relation to its work coordination with the Agriculture Ministry, particularly as this pertains to cooperation development with the ISPO with an emphasis on strengthening peat protection objectives.

RSPO’s legacy

The facts show that a vast amount of peat drainage in Indonesia has been done in peat ecosystems by RSPO members for many years. Furthermore, concessions of RSPO members have needed to meet legal compliance with regard to peat recovery efforts to a significant extent.

The photos below show an example of the operations of PT BSG, a palm oil company affiliated to an RSPO member (PT SSMS) that was developing 2015's burned peatlands in Central Kalimantan’s Pulang Pisau regency - which are among the peat agency's restoration targets - into palm oil plantations.

The legacy of the RSPO in leaving a substantial footprint from deforestation and peat destruction in the development of palm oil plantations in Indonesia is irremovable.

In truth, while the world is struggling to clean up supply chains from deforestation and peat destruction, RSPO members are still continuously linked with these destructive practices.

No escape for peat violators

Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya continues to emphasize that, sooner or later, companies which commit peat violations will be subject to sanctions, ranging from the suspension of their operations associated with new peat development, the termination of such operations, to the revoking of their permits.

Indeed, the minister's promise is not just an empty threat, as several palm oil companies controlled by conglomerates have been hit with sanctions, including the shutting down of their operations implicated in peat violations.

As to Indonesia’s peat protection agenda, President Joko Widodo continues to provide consistent support towards cracking down on companies that keep perpetrating peat violations. Such consistency on the part of the President is unprecedented in Indonesian history.