Listed company develops new palm oil plantation in last year's burned peatlands

(foresthints.news) - As it turns out, not only pulpwood companies are being found to be committing offences by replanting burned peatlands in their concessions. In fact, Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has now discovered violations perpetrated by a listed company which continues to develop new palm oil plantations in last year’s burned peatlands.

Results of monitoring conducted by the ministry show how a palm oil company, PT DGS, has continued developing new canals and performed new planting in areas targeted for restoration by Indonesia’s Peat Restoration Agency (BRG).

PT DGS, a subsidiary of PT. Tunas Baru Lampung Tbk (TBLA), a company listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange, operates in the regency of Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), one of four peat restoration priority regencies designated by President Joko Widodo in January this year.

"Following these findings, the ministry has taken the decision that the company must immediately stop the development of canals. We are in the process of putting this decision into effect. Our target is that the construction of these canals has to be stopped,” San Afri Awang, the ministry’s Director General of Forestry Planology and Environmental Governance, told foresthints.news on Wednesday (Nov 23) at the ministry complex.

The Director General said he was surprised how a listed company could still exploit peatlands and build new canals, as if it was not following the development of government policies that have expressly banned these practices.

"Moreover, the peatlands being exploited are last year's burned peatlands spread across the company's concession which are included in the targeted peat restoration map. We cannot tolerate this type of violation.”

He also said that the ministry's law enforcement team will immediately go to the site to take law enforcement action related to this offence.

The Director General added that the ministry was examining the palm oil company’s permit, as according to the ministry’s data, the relinquishment forest area permit issued to it in 2012 is not for palm oil plantation development.

These photos produced from the ministry’s monitoring clearly demonstrate that no evident peat restoration efforts were ever carried out in the PT DGS concession which formed part of the peat agency’s targeted peat restoration map.

Supply chain of ex-IPOP signatories involved

Meanwhile, Greenomics Indonesia Executive Director Vanda Mutia Dewi said that PT DGS' continued practice of developing new palm oil plantations in last year's burned peatlands also tarnished the supply chain of various ex-IPOP signatories.

“With reference to the latest report from TBLA to the Indonesia Stock Exchange, this company is a supplier to numerous ex-IPOP signatories, such as Asian Agri, Golden Agri-Resources, Musim Mas and Wilmar International,” Vanda explained to foresthints.news (Nov 23).

Vanda feels that the cleaning up of the supply chains of ex-IPOP signatories from peatland exploitation, as promised by several former IPOP signatories after the dissolution of IPOP earlier this year, remains a mere pipe dream - as exemplified by this case.

The following photos clearly depict how the TBLA company, a supplier to the aforementioned ex-IPOP signatories, carried out business-as-usual practices in one of the peat agency’s targeted peat restoration areas.

In early November 2015, Minister Siti Nurbaya, after receiving a directive from President Joko Widodo in a cabinet meeting, issued a circular letter to palm oil companies prohibiting them from developing new palm oil plantations in peatlands. On various official forums, the President has repeatedly underlined that peatlands may no longer be exploited for new palm oil plantations.