July 22, 2019

Key wildlife habitat protected by palm oil producer

JAKARTA ( - Astra Agro Lestari, Indonesia’s second largest palm oil producer, has proved itself to be maintaining a major part of the Sumatran tiger and elephant habitat, spanning an area larger than Brussels, in its palm oil concession (PT TPP) located in Aceh province.

In fact, around 70% of the total Astra group-owned palm oil concession, consisting of areas both with and without good forest cover, has not been converted into new palm oil plantations, whereas 27% of the concession is composed of palm oil plantations.

To be precise, the equivalent of almost two thousand soccer fields - or roughly 39% of the total concession - still consists of forest areas with good cover, while another more than 30% of the concession, most of which comprises shrubland, has also not been developed into palm oil plantations.

This news report, like several others recently published by, seeks to shed light on the ongoing efforts being made by palm oil and forestry companies to preserve Indonesia’s high carbon stock (HCS) forests and key wildlife habitats in their concessions.

Not earmarked for development

Joko Supriyono, Vice President Director of Astra Agro Lestari, confirmed in a recent discussion with that a significant part of the PT TPP concession is being maintained rather than developed into new palm oil plantations. 

Meanwhile, a spatial analysis conducted by the team indicates that over the past two years, the Astra palm oil company has been consistent in not establishing new palm oil plantations, particularly in forest areas with good cover (HCS forests). 

The following Planet Explorer images represent evidence of this, showing that forests with good cover making up almost 40% of the concession remain standing as of July 2019. 

The PT TPP palm oil concession lies beyond the boundary of the Leuser Ecosystem, but is still part of the Sumatran tiger and elephant’s habitat.

As such, Astra’s decision not to open new palm oil plantations in a substantial part of its concession deserves appreciation, especially as it pertains to the protection of the two key wildlife species. 

Joko, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), elaborated on the ground efforts being undertaken by the palm oil company - including those with the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry’s local office - aimed at protecting the elephant corridor within the concession.

Astra Agro Lestari can thus be added to the list of palm oil companies that have set aside land in their concessions for protecting the habitat of key wildlife, highlighting the fact that conservation gains can still be made in palm oil concessions.

In light of the delegated act the EU has adopted - which seeks to phase out palm oil used in biofuels due to links with deforestation - this organization should really look at and learn from this case, as well as relevant evidence from other companies, in which key wildlife habitat in the Astra palm oil concession is being protected.