November 26, 2018

New facts cast doubt on TFT’s palm oil transformation

JAKARTA ( - In its 2017 palm oil paperThe Forest Trust (TFT) claimed that efforts behind the transformation of the palm oil industry were at an amazing point. This claim is clearly quite strange and funny given that it is contradicted by so much ground-based evidence.  

The report stated that the CEO of Nestlé, asked by TFT whether the company wanted its palm supply chain linked to deforestation and exploitation, answered with a firm “No”. This, in short, led to the release of Nestlé’s responsible sourcing policy

All of this formed part of the “six years of change” discussed in the report’s first chapter titled “Palm oil industry transformation”.

However, as of today, the palm oil supply chain of Nestlé remains strongly linked to deforestation and peat destruction in Indonesia, despite the Swiss food and beverage giant having been a member of TFT for years. This assessment is backed up by plenty of ground-based evidence.  

As such, TFT should follow up on its prior question to Nestlé’s CEO by asking whether the company is disappointed in, or indifferent to, the fact that its current palm oil supply chain is still significantly associated with deforestation and peat destruction. 

The following photos show how PT SAE, whose parent company (Saraswanti group) is a palm oil supplier to Nestlé, continues to clear and drain peat forests which form the habitat of the Bornean orangutan (IUCN data) in West Kalimantan’s Landak regency.  

It is thus still far from clear what was meant by the palm oil industry transformation work being at an amazing point, as asserted in TFT’s report, particularly considering the ongoing ties between Nestle’s supply chain and the destruction of Bornean orangutan-inhabited forests.

Map vs ground-based evidence  

These peat forests, relentlessly being drained and cleared by the Saraswanti company which is part of Nestlé’s palm oil supply chain, were previously classified as peat domes with no canals by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) in September 2016.

Now, in contrast, major parts of the peat domes situated in the PT SAE palm oil concession have been drained by the massive construction of canals, a practice continuing until today.  

The photos below portray additional field-based evidence of how the majority of peat domes with no canals, as classified by the peat agency two years ago, have now been drained and are full of canals. 

Other TFT members linked 

Besides Nestlé, other TFT members are also linked to the peat forest clearing and drainage in the Saraswanti palm oil concession which is home to the Bornean orangutan. These include CargillMarsBungeADM and    Fuji Oil

In fact, the supply chains of the aforementioned TFT members remain tainted by deforestation and peat destruction across Indonesia, casting huge doubt on the claim that the palm oil industry transformation work is at an amazing point.

The evidence presented in this news report serves as a concrete basis for asking TFT not to make a baseless claim that the palm oil industry transformation work is at an “amazing point”. 

Indeed, there is lots of ground-based evidence which wholly disproves TFT’s claim about the great and fast progress of its palm oil industry transformation work.

One need look no further than at the ongoing harm being done by the supply chains of TFT members which are contributing substantially to the disappearance of the Bornean orangutan’s habitat.

“Building trust through transparency” is one of the slogans used by TFT with regard to the transformation of the palm oil industry. Ironically, the only transparent thing is how the supply chains of TFT members persist in removing forests and draining peatlands.

As the palm oil supply chains of the TFT members keep enjoying their business-as-usual practices, the ‘trust’ which TFT purports to be building through its palm oil industry transformation work seems far from being achieved. 

In reality, indisputable ground-based evidence has led to the conclusion that despite the supposed palm oil industry transformation work by TFT, its members' supply chains are still endlessly carrying out deforestation and peat destruction.