More NDPE companies connected to loss of orangutan habitat

(foresthints.news) - The fate of the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan, whose habitat extends into a palm oil concession (PT PSM) located in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency, rests heavily upon the level of concern and responsibility shown by major palm oil traders and buyers whose supply chains are linked to the Sepanjang group.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Sep 29), PT PSM, which was recently sold by Genting Plantations (GenP) to PT Suryaborneo Mandiri (SBM), is a Sepanjang group-controlled palm oil company. This group also owns the palm oil mill PT BHD, the parent company of PT PSM.

Besides Wilmar and ADM Global, in addition to their joint venture Olenex, whose supply chains are linked to PT BHD, it turns out that there are another three major palm oil players with supply chains associated with the Sepanjang Group’s palm oil mill. 

These three business groups are IOICargill and Apical (Asian Agri), all of which have adopted an NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation) policy which stipulates the cleaning up of their supply chains, in particular from the deforestation of high carbon stock (HCS) forests.

These supply chain linkages came to the attention of foresthints.news through data published online by IOI.

In fact, there are 7,706 hectares of HCS forests within the PT PSM concession, home to the Bornean orangutan, which have begun to be cleared by the Sepanjang group palm oil company. 

The Google Earth image below shows an example of the HCS forests in the PT PSM concession which form the habitat of the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan, while the Sentinel-2 images indicate that the clearing of the orangutan’s habitat in the concession is already underway.

Spotlight on responsible purchasing policy

It would be both ironic and bizarre if NDPE companies such as Wilmar, ADM Global, IOI, Cargill and Apical - having pledged to clean up their supply chains - were not able to dissociate themselves from the destruction of the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the PT PSM concession, one of the last remaining places where this species lives freely in Indonesian Borneo.

As it stands, the on-the-ground reality in the PT PSM concession will later prove just how committed these NDPE companies truly are to cleaning up their supply chains, as measured by how much HCS forest and Bornean orangutan habitat are actually cleared by the Sepanjang group-owned company.

The following Google Earth images depict the extent to which another GenP palm oil concession (PT CSC), situated adjacent to PT PSM and also home to the Bornean orangutan, has been cleared.

The looming question is whether the situation in the PT CSC concession is going to be repeated in the PT PSM concession. How much responsibility and concern the five NDPE companies really feel towards critically-endangered species and HCS forest destruction will decide this.

Echoing an important point made by the CEO of Mighty Earth, Glenn Hurowitz, in a recently published news story by foresthints.news (Jul 31), it is completely irrelevant and disingenuous for NDPE companies to use business transformation as a reason for continuing to engage with companies that perpetuate the clearing and destruction of HCS forests.

If the practice of obliterating the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the PT PSM concession continues, and the supply chains of the NDPE companies remain linked to PT BHD, huge questions will of course arise as to the level of these corporations’ responsible palm oil purchasing policies.

It is also absolutely reasonable for the public to demand answers about the role of these NDPE companies with regard to their genuine level of commitment to cleaning up their supply chains, in this case from the ongoing deforestation of HCS forests and destruction of the Bornean orangutan’s habitat in the PT PSM concession.

There will certainly be some insightful lessons learned from what happens in the PT PSM palm oil concession, and these will help clarify the level of accountability of the five NDPE companies in protecting the rapidly-vanishing habitat of the Bornean orangutan in this concession.