Indonesian authorities conclude Sime Darby has committed violations

(foresthints.news) - Joint evaluation of the performance of PT ISLM (Sime Darby Plantation), carried out by the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry and the Bangka Belitung Provincial Forestry office - has revealed that the giant Malaysian company has committed violations in the past two years of its operations.

The failure of the Sime Darby company to implement a partnership with local communities in 2015-2016, which it is supposed to comply with as a forestry concession permit holder, is the reason underlying these violations.

The Indonesian forestry authorities uncovered these violations after conducting a ground-check of two different locations in the Sime Darby rubber concession located in the Sumatra’s Belitung island.

On the basis of these violations, in early May this year, the ministry sent a letter to the provincial forestry office requesting that it impose administrative sanctions in the form of a suspension of administrative services for the Sime Darby company.

The following photos are of land-clearing and rubber planting carried out by PT ISLM.

Legal facts vs claims

The legal facts exposed by the Indonesian authorities with respect to violations committed by the Sime Darby company are certainly very surprising, considering that Sime Darby claimed to have obtained Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from local communities from 2014 to 2016.

This claim was made by Sime Darby in an open response (May 26) to the news posted by foresthints.news (May 23) divulging that its operations had cleared high carbon stock (HCS) forests.

In this open response, Sime Darby also stated that it had performed land-clearing of 2,500 hectares, 1,800 hectares of which were planted with rubber. Part of this land-clearing and planting thus constituted a violation, with reference to the ministry's letter.

These photos also show rubber planting by the Sime Darby company.

No reference to legal documents

When foresthints.news asked Sime Darby again about its FPIC claim and how it relates to the violations discovered by the Indonesian forestry authorities, the Malaysian company responded by email (May 31).

The response was as follows: “PT ISLM is operating in a production forest area, which is 100% owned by the government. The people in the area are illegal settlers. We have notified the government about this issue and we are trying to resolve it with the authorities.”

Sime Darby’s written reply was all the more astounding as it is inconsistent with PT ISLM’s 10-year work plan, which is supposed to serve as a legal reference for its operations as well as a basis for the Indonesian forestry authorities to evaluate these operations.

This legally-based work plan of the Sime Darby company contains a map along with a zonation of the areas within the Sime Darby concession allocated for a community partnership.

PT ISLM’s operations also represented violations in that the company’s work plan was not in effect at the ground level, given that no community partnership had been formed.

In its responses to foresthints.news, Sime Darby also made no reference whatsoever to its 10-year work plan and micro-delineation report, including its 2015 and 2016 annual work plans. In fact, all of these are legal documents involved in a forestry concession’s operations.

Instead Sime Darby declared that “the Sime Darby Plantation has applied assessment systems used by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to ensure compliance with our internal sustainability policies and standards.”

In terms of a forestry concession’s operations, this statement from Sime Darby is very misleading, bearing in mind that its sustainability commitments in the operations of PT ISLM are meant to be incorporated into its 10-year work plan, and later carried out as part of its annual work plans.

The next news report will look at the HCS forest landscape which is supposed to be maintained by Sime Darby - and not replaced with rubber plantations - by referring to the Sime Darby company’s 10-year work plan, including its maps of high conservation value (HCV) areas and carbon stocks.