Market leader continues clearing of Papua’s forests to achieve its business goal

(foresthints.news) - One of the world’s leading global commodity traders, the Noble Group, is continuing to clear Papua’s intact forests in order to achieve its goal of expanding its palm oil plantation business. The business goal of Noble Plantations is outlined in the company’s profile on the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) website.

This market leader, as Noble refers to itself on the RSPO website, is perpetuating business-as-usual practices through its subsidiary PT PAL, by continuing to replace Papua’s high carbon stock forests to extend its palm oil plantations.

Noble Plantations has been a member of the RSPO since the end of October 2011, yet its membership of the RSPO has been shown to have a less than significant impact in stopping Noble from eradicating Papua’s intact forests.

Noble, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, only registered its plan for the massive deforestation of Papua’s intact forests with the RSPO through its New Planting Procedure (NPP) in 2012. The plan allocates just a tiny portion of high conservation value areas to be preserved as conservation zones.

As a result of this, Papua’s high carbon stock forests, which cover an area roughly half the size of Singapore, have become an arena for deforestation for the sake of Noble fulfilling its palm oil business goal, as laid out by the company on the RSPO website.

The following Google Earth images (2013-2016) demonstrate how Singapore-listed Noble is clearing Papua’s high carbon stock forests to expand its palm oil plantation business. These images were obtained by Greenomics Indonesia.

In Noble’s sustainability information document, which was published in September last year, there is no mention of any attempt on the part of the company to avoid clearing high carbon stock forests as it develops its palm oil plantation business.

Unrelenting expansion

Greenpeace released a report in January this year which, among other things, disclosed that HSBC Bank is financing Noble, the parent company of PT PAL. The report sheds light on the widespread destruction of Papua’s intact forest being committed by the Noble company for new palm oil development.

Prior to this, in early April last year, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) revealed that two Noble companies, one of which is PT PAL, had been carrying out destructive palm oil plantation development. Such development is incompatible with the Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies of Noble’s main financier - HSBC.

Despite these contentious practices, Noble Plantations shows no sign of relenting in the pursuit of its palm oil business goal. This means that Papua’s intact forests continue to be leveled for palm oil plantation development.

Proof of this comes from a spatial analysis based on USGS Landsat 8 images provided by Greenomics. These images illustrate that Noble persists in removing Papua’s high carbon stock forests for new planting purposes.

New CPO mill

A reading of Noble Plantations’ sustainability information document makes the company’s intentions very apparent. The document clearly states that Noble plans to construct a CPO mill this year for the operations of its subsidiary PT PAL.

This plan indicates that the Noble company will keep seeking to expand the planted areas in its concession as a source of raw materials for the new CPO mill in the years ahead.

Even though the operations of PT PAL are consistent with its NPP, the RSPO should not merely close its eyes to the hugely damaging practices committed by the Noble Group against Papua’s high carbon stock forests.

Surely the RSPO is not waiting until 2020 - the target year set by PT PAL - to grant sustainable palm oil certificate to the Noble company, considering that by this time all the high carbon stock forests in this market leader’s concession will have been eliminated.