December 5, 2018

New peat drainage continues in Indonesian priority provinces

JAKARTA ( - New drainage of peatlands for the expansion of palm oil plantations is still underway in provinces of Indonesia prioritized for peat restoration by President Joko Widodo in early January 2016.

In West Kalimantan’s Kubu Raya regency, for example, PT PWA - a company belonging to Pundi Lahan Khatulistiwa (PLK) whose palm oil is linked to members of the RSPO and TFT - continues to clear peat forests which form the habitat of the Bornean orangutan.  

In mid-September 2016, the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) classified major parts of this concession as consisting of peat domes with no canals. Now, however, new peat drainage is still taking place in the concession.   

Huge questions remain about this new peat drainage by PT PWA, especially considering that the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry is in the process of taking law enforcement measures against the company, as earlier reported by (Oct 15)

The following Planet Explorer images, provided by the  spatial team, depict the ongoing clearing of peat forests by the PLK company, a practice which is destroying the Bornean orangutan’s habitat.

Nonetheless, various global palm oil supply chains are still linked to the destruction of the Bornean orangutan-inhabited peat forests lying in the PLK concession, most notably those of Nestlé, Unilever, Mars, ADM, Cargill and PepsiCo. 

A similar case 

Meanwhile, another palm oil company, PT SAE - a subsidiary of the  Saraswanti Group - is also continuing to drain peat forests inhabited by the Bornean orangutan to expand its palm oil plantation.

In mid September 2016, the peat agency also classified the peat forests spread across this concession, which lies in West Kalimantan’s Landak regency, as consisting of peat domes with no canals. At present, however, these peat domes are mostly drained. 

After this case was reported by (Nov 26) based on ground-based monitoring, the Planet Explorer and LandViewer images below have emerged showing that the Saraswanti company is going ahead with the clearing of the concession’s peat forests. 

Once again, numerous global food companies retain palm oil supply chains associated with the removal of these Bornean orangutan-inhabited peat forests, most prominently in this case Cargill, Mars, Bunge, ADM and Fuji Oil, all of which are members of TFT

Blank cheque despite new standard?

In yet another case, new spatial evidence has revealed that PT DGS - a subsidiary of Indonesian-listed company PT TBLA Tbk which is a registered member of the RSPO - is proceeding with the draining of peat areas. 

This concession is situated in South Sumatra’s OKI regency, a peat restoration priority regency within a peat restoration priority province. In mid September 2016, these burned peat areas from 2015 were designated as a peat restoration target by the peat agency.

The following Planet Explorer images portray the continuing drainage of targeted peat restoration areas in the TBLA concession, a practice in contradiction to the existing peat regulations as well as the newly-adopted RSPO standard

As recently reported by (Nov 23), Cargill, Nestlé, PepsiCo, ADM, Bunge and Mars, all of which are among the top ten largest global food companies this year, maintain supply chains tied to TBLA. 

All of these persistent new peat drainage practices blatantly contravene the legal ban on new peat development put in place by President Joko Widodo in early December 2016.

In fact, a set of new evidence indicates that the draining of peatlands in Indonesia’s peat restoration priority provinces still proliferates, as global palm oil supply chains remain tainted by peat destruction despite ongoing peat restoration efforts.