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Indonesia's giant palm oil producer have announced to stop deforestation

Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), the palm oil arm of Sinar Mas, announced a plan to halt the destruction of Indonesia’s forests previously caused by their operations. Approximately 30 percent of the palm oil imports in India are believed to come from Golden Agri-Resources. India is the world’s biggest importer of palm oil, most of it from Indonesia.

Destroying forest and peat land for cultivation of palm oil as well as paper and pulp is the main reason why Indonesia is ranked as the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is endangering species such as the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger.

Responding to the news, Ashish Fernandes, Campaigner for Greenpeace India said:
“If implemented on the ground, this will be good news for the forests, endangered species like the orang-utan and for the Indonesian economy. Indian players such as Godrej, Hindustan Unilever, VVF and Ruchi-Soya have already communicated their discomfort with purchasing palm oil linked to Indonesian deforestation.(1) This is an important signal that the rest of the Indian industry, and Indonesian producers, need to take note of.”

Golden Agri’s announcement today has given a huge boost to the Indonesian President’s pledge to protect forests and tackle climate change. Now the Indonesian Government must support this initiative by stopping any more licences being granted for forest and peatland clearance, and by reviewing activities in areas where licences have already been handed out.

In recent years, Greenpeace revelations showing the destruction caused by Golden Agri-Resources have led to international corporations such as Unilever and Nestle cancelling their contracts with the Indonesian palm oil company. However, today’s move could signal the start of a shift throughout the industry, and eventually lead to full forest and peatland protection.

A key commitment by Golden Agri-Resources is a pledge not to clear ‘High Carbon Storage’ forest. Under the company’s new plans, they have set a provisional threshold and will not be developing land which contains over 35 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Importantly, this provisional figure is in line with figures for low carbon development recommended to the Indonesian Government by their own advisors.

by S. C.
10 february 2011, World News > Asia

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