January 28, 2019

MidEast company still destroying intact Papuan forests

JAKARTA ( - PT Kartika Cipta Pratama (KCP), a palm oil company reported by EIA and Greenpeace to be linked to Pacific Inter-Link (PIL), one of the subsidiaries of the Yemeni conglomerate HSA group, is still removing intact forests in Papua for its new palm oil plantations.

In mid-October 2018, these two leading global NGOs submitted complaints to the RSPO about the destruction of these intact forests by PIL, considering that it is one of four HSA companies registered as an RSPO member. 

Despite a denial from HSA/PIL of the claim that is connected to PT KCP and PT MJR (a company also allegedly involved in deforestation in Papua), Greenpeace wrote in a letter to the RSPO in mid-November 2018 that strong circumstantial evidence exists showing a continued link between them. 

In addition, Mighty Earth, a Washington-based global environmental campaign organization, has also stated in its reports that the two abovementioned palm oil companies accused of the deforestation of Papua's primary forests are HSA group-controlled companies.

Meanwhile, in late November 2018, EIA confirmed that the complaints it had filed along with Greenpeace “have now been officially accepted as legitimate by the RSPO, meaning its Complaints Panel will now formally investigate the allegations”.

However, as of early January this year, PT KCP - which was granted a permit in 2012 lying in Boven Digoel regency - was still razing Papua’s intact forests to be replaced with new palm oil plantations. 

The Planet Explorer and LandViewer images below, provided by the spatial team, prove that the eradication of intact forests in Papua by PT KCP was ongoing during this January period.

Based on the satellite images above, it can be concluded that PT KCP is still targeting new palm oil development in its concession which covers the equivalent of nearly 40 thousand soccer fields in part of Papua’s intact forest ecosystem, the majority of which remains undeveloped. 

In spite of the denial by HSA/PIL that its business investments and operations are linked to a palm oil company currently destroying Papua’s intact forests, Nestlé and Unilever, among others, have reportedly suspended palm oil purchasing from the HSA group.

Sustainability or new deforestation?

In its latest sustainability statement (Jan 21) posted on its website, HSA asserts that it has taken up the issue of sustainability to be adopted, implemented and practiced across all its associate companies.

HSA also stated that this will take some time given the wide diversity of its business domains, while emphasizing that the company remains committed to advancing the sustainability agenda. 

However, the ongoing clearing of part of Papua's intact forest ecosystem casts doubt on the direction of HSA's sustainability approach, as expressed in its statement.

This case adds to a growing list whereby new deforestation of good forest cover in existing palm concessions remains underway, most notably on the islands of Borneo and Papua, in defiance of the palm oil expansion moratorium put into effect by President Joko Widodo last September.

In accordance with the President’s moratorium order, good forest cover in existing palm oil concessions should be evaluated with a view to being returned as state forest areas, rather than being sacrificed for new palm oil plantations.