Govt shares photos of Cargill’s new plantations in peat ecosystem

(foresthints.news) - The new palm oil plantation expansion developed by Cargill company PT Hindoli, which now forms part of the peat ecosystem map, was pointed out by the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry during a two-day field observation (Nov 6-7) in the Cargill concession located in South Sumatra’s Banyuasin regency.

Cargill’s new palm oil plantations, as revealed by Greenomics Indonesia and reported by foresthints.news (Nov 6), have mainly been developed since a ban on new peat development was imposed by Minister Siti Nurbaya in early November 2015.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) - by means of funding support from the Norwegian government - has completed “detailed peat maps” using LiDAR technology, particularly in the Cargill concession, for the purpose of peat restoration.

The three photos below show almost all of Cargill’s new palm oil plantations which currently fall into the legally-designated peat ecosystem map, regardless of Cargill’s continuing insistence that its concession does not lie in peatlands.

Ministry’s position

The Ministry’s Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono explained that the submission of the PT Hindoli peat ecosystem recovery plan to the ministry should be seen as part of its legal compliance.

"We are studying the Cargill company's peat recovery plan. (However) it is not legally relevant for the company to claim that its concession is not composed of peat at the current stage," Bambang explained at the ministry building (Nov 7) while with the Ministry's newly-appointed Director General of Refuse, Waste and Toxic Material Management, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati.

He asserted that corrective actions will be taken with regard to the application of the new peat regulations, but this will happen once the company’s peat recovery plan is in its implementation phase.

The secretary general reiterated this, asking, "How can we take corrective actions if the company is not yet in the implementation phase of its peat recovery plan?”

The next three photos depict Cargill’s new palm oil plantations which have been developed in part of the legally-based peat ecosystem map. The photos were taken from a closer distance.

An important milestone?

Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia, is encouraging the peat agency to disclose the results of the LiDAR mapping it performed in the Cargill concession.

She referred to a statement made by the Norwegian government via its embassy in Jakarta (Aug 28), reaffirming that the LiDAR mapping it has funded represents “an important milestone in peat restoration work in Indonesia”.

According to Vanda, this statement from the Norwegian government makes it clear that the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping is intended to facilitate peat restoration work. As such, the LiDAR mapping conducted in the Cargill concession should have ideally concluded that the major part of the concession does consist of peatlands.

“Given that the Cargill company has consistently stated that its concession does not comprise peatlands, the peat agency should immediately divulge exactly how many hectares of peatlands are actually in the concession, based on a detailed analysis of the LiDAR mapping,” Vanda urged.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Sep 20), significant parts of the Cargill palm oil concession which have been LiDAR-mapped by the peat agency were not, it turned out, included in the peat agency's indicative targeted peat restoration map, and parts of the concession were also not located in peat restoration priority regencies.