May 16, 2019

Half of palm oil concession set aside for conservation

JAKARTA ( - Genting Plantations (GenP), one of the largest Malaysian palm oil industry players, is in the technical process of setting aside high carbon stock (HCS) forests which make up half of its palm oil concession in Indonesian Borneo and form a habitat for the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan.

These HCS forests - spanning an area more than twice the size of Brussels - lie in the PT CSC palm oil concession situated in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency which obtained its permit in late June 2011.

At the end of September 2014, Mongabay reported on ongoing deforestation in the PT CSC palm oil concession, while in early February 2016 it reported once again on deforestation-related issues stemming from the operations of the GenP palm oil company.

“About 7,000 hectares of lowland rainforest, or half the concession, is currently under a peer review process to be set aside for conservation, mixed in an existing palm oil plantation landscape,” explained Eric Wakker, a top executive from AidEnvironment Asia, in writing to (May 15).

“That's still a meaningful outcome (especially compared to the sad outcome from the palm oil concession next to it (PT PSM),” he asserted.

The following photos provided by AidEnvironment show the HCS forests in the GenP-owned palm oil concession, around half of which is to be set aside for conservation involving the habitat of the Bornean orangutan.

“Now that we are where we are, clearly companies like PT CSC need the assistance of NGOs, local communities, and government agencies to keep the trees standing in set-aside forest,” Wakker pointed out. 

“There are too many incidents of rampant logging,” he added in reference to ongoing threats to HCS forests on the ground level. 

Conservation gain

A spatial analysis conducted by the spatial team demonstrated that almost seven thousand hectares of HCS forests remain within the concession (delineated in yellow), as depicted in the Planet Explorer images below. 

This is certainly an example of a conservation gain in favour of the Bornean orangutan habitat found in many palm oil concessions in Indonesia and deserves appreciation.

Another message to the EU

The case of the GenP palm oil concession serves as another lesson learned for the EU with respect to its recently-adopted delegated act concerning the phasing-out of palm oil for biofuels.

This example of a conservation gain also adds to the long list of palm oil concessions in Indonesia which are maintaining parts of their forested areas as a home for Bornean and Sumatran orangutans.

“This case will never win a beauty contest but what would be the purpose of dismissing our common efforts as half baked, other than to nurture cynicism, if we can also celebrate a half-baked success?” asked Wakker.

The conservation gain obtained through GenP’s decision represents a clear boost to efforts aimed at cleaning up global palm oil supply chains via the adoption of NDPE policies. Such efforts should be appreciated by the EU even if they still have shortcomings.

As previously reported by (Apr 29), a Saratoga-controlled palm oil company (PT SPS-2) is still protecting Sumatran orangutan-inhabited peat forests in the Leuser Ecosystem’s Tripa peat forest landscape, known as the orangutan capital of the world, covering the equivalent of five thousand soccer fields.

Meanwhile, Jakarta-listed palm oil company PT ANJT has also set aside Bornean orangutan habitat in its palm oil concession equivalent to more than 70% the size of Brussels and home to 108 Bornean orangutans, as also earlier reported by (May 9)

Furthermore, the BGA group, a Singapore-listed palm oil company, is also maintaining peat forests almost twice the size of Brussels which play host to around 100 Bornean orangutans, as covered recently by (May 14).



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