Palm oil company to rehabilitate Leuser’s elephant home range
JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - After clearing forested areas within the Leuser Ecosystem spanning the equivalent of more than 400 soccer fields over the last two years, PT ABN - a palm oil company which most notably makes up part of the supply chain of both Wilmar International and Nestle - has declared its commitment to rehabilitating the home range of the critically-endangered Sumatran elephant within the company’s concession that has been cleared.
These forest clearing operations, undertaken at a time when a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil development in the Leuser Ecosystem remains in place, undoubtedly have serious implications for the palm oil company, in this case as relates to its palm oil business, both now and in the future.
With regard to this evolving situation, Mawardi, the owner of PT ABN, took the opportunity to have a long discussion with foresthints.news in the second week of January in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province.
During this talk, he confirmed that he had agreed to rehabilitate a section of the company's palm oil concession through a process of revegetation so that it could be re-established as part of the home range of the Sumatran elephant.
“After this meeting, I will ask my team to immediately identify the elephant's home range within our palm oil concession. To identify the home range, we will also work with relevant experts and local communities,” Mawardi affirmed to foresthints.news (Jan 9).
Following up on this promise, one day before this news report was posted (Jan 21), foresthints.news once again inquired about how far PT ABN had gone in delivering the company's commitment.
In response, a spokesperson for the palm oil company confirmed that a process of identifying the elephant’s home range is currently underway involving consultations with local communities on the ground. Furthermore, according to the spokesperson, relevant data and information is being sought from experts.
“In the next few days, we will provide a further update on the progress of the intensive efforts we have been making since our meeting,” the spokesperson told foresthints.news.
The Google Earth images below, which foresthints.news presented to PT ABN’s owner during the meeting in Banda Aceh, show the extent to which secondary forests were cleared by the palm oil company in 2016-2017. The identification process of the elephant’s home range for rehabilitation purposes, which PT ABN claims is ongoing, involves parts of these cleared areas.
Focus on home range level
During the meeting with foresthints.news, Mawardi emphasized that his company would only be able to rehabilitate that part of its palm oil concession which constitutes the elephant’s home range.
“We want to make sure that the elephant's home range in our concession is not being used for palm oil development. If we find this, we would be willing to remove these oil palms. As such, we need to accurately identify the level of the elephant's home range in PT ABN's concession,” he explained.
Mawardi was keen to underline that the rehabilitation of the elephant’s home range located within the company’s palm oil concession represented a good solution.
He elaborated further on the company’s motivations. “We don't ever want to see any dead elephants in our concession. Therefore, we feel that the rehabilitation of the elephant's home range that lies in our concession is one of the most affordable steps we can pursue.”
Mawardi also acknowledged that the company’s plan was not perfect. “Of course, there will be pros and cons with this initiative to rehabilitate the elephant’s home range. However, we intend to go ahead with it as we believe that it’s the right move.”
The PT ABN owner concluded with a final justification for his company’s decision. “We are now eager to do something real to rehabilitate the elephant's home range in our concession. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that."