August 1, 2019

“Mostly deforestation free” still not enough: Aidenvironment

JAKARTA ( - Eric Wakker, co-founder of Aidenvironment Asia, has warned the Indonesian palm oil sector that the international market wants “guaranteed no deforestation” palm oil, not "mostly deforestation free" palm oil, and emphasized that the market's demand in this regard will not change.

Wakker expressed his view that “a small but significant minority” of players in the Indonesian palm oil sector remain engaged in deforestation.

He added that the fact that there are still a few palm oil companies quite prominently linked to deforestation means that there is still not any "guaranteed no deforestation" palm oil.

In other words, the Indonesian palm oil sector retains the status of "mostly deforestation free", a situation which is still not aligned with the demands of the international palm oil market. 

In a discussion with in Jakarta last week (Jul 24), Wakker underlined that despite the major progress made in cleaning up deforestation from palm oil supply chains in Indonesia, a few companies continue to be involved with this business-as-usual practice.

“A small but significant minority of growers and trader-refiners are putting Indonesia’s strategic commodity - palm oil - at great risk because they choose to continue clearing forests and peatlands at the expense of the industry’s reputation,” he lamented.

The Planet Explorer images below, prepared by the team, show an example of ongoing deforestation of good forest cover areas in the PT PSM palm oil concession in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency. This case was among the specific concerns raised by Wakker.

The PT PSM palm oil concession seen above was previously owned by Genting Plantations which broke its promise of protecting the concession’s HCS forests and Bornean orangutan habitat by selling the permit.

High time for action

Given that the international market, according to Wakker, is not going to deviate from its demand for “guaranteed no deforestation” palm oil, it is now crucial in his opinion for GAPKI (the Indonesian Palm Oil Association) to provide such a guarantee.

“It’s high time for trade associations like GAPKI to recognise this and to engage its members, not to endlessly fight the market but instead to meet the market’s demands. The market wants guaranteed no deforestation palm oil, not mostly deforestation free palm oil,” he stressed.

Wakker went on to cite the ongoing deforestation - to make way for new palm oil plantations - of Papua’s HCS forests by the Indonusa group, which is also linked to global palm oil supply chains. This is portrayed in the Planet Explorer images below, provided by the spatial team.

The deforestation being carried out by the Indonusa group is another example, Wakker pointed out, of how the Indonesian palm oil sector is not yet able to deliver a guarantee of “no deforestation” to the international market. 

In addition, he highlighted the need for proactive efforts from downstream market players to reembrace suspended palm oil growers that have adopted an NDPE policy and are in compliance with it at the implementation level.   

“It is critical for downstream market players to demonstrate that suspended growers are resolutely welcomed back into the NDPE supply chain once they comply with the Re-Entry Guidelines, by essentially stopping further land clearing and committing to recovery,” he explained. 

A good example of this is Nestlé which has announced that it has allowed GAMA back into its supply chain after seeing evidence of the palm oil company's sufficient compliance with NDPE practices. This also reinforces the fact that “guaranteed no deforestation” is now demanded of the global palm oil supply chain.

Ending his discussion with, Wakker said that Aidenvironment, as well as other international and Indonesian partners, is continuing to work to ensure that the Indonesian palm oil sector meets the benchmark demanded by the international market of palm oil guaranteed not to be linked to deforestation.