August 3, 2018

Minister divulges breaches by global palm oil supplier

( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has revealed a number of cases of legal non-compliance within the operations of PT SPS-2 (Amara Group), a global palm oil supplier whose concession spans the equivalent of almost 13 thousand football fields in the Tripa peat swamps - part of the Leuser Ecosystem - on Aceh’s west coast.

PT SPS-2 counts among its customers companies which are members of both the RSPO and TFT, in this case NestleADM GlobalMarsWilmar and GAR. Furthermore, Unilever and PepsiCowhich are members of the RSPO but not TFT, are also continuing to source palm oil from the controversial palm oil company in question. 

The first example of legal non-compliance outlined by the minister is that the palm oil company has only set aside around 2,500 hectares of legally-established high conservation value (HCV) areas out of the 5,000 hectares supposed to have been allocated in line with its prevailing environmental permit.

Exacerbating this, ground-based evidence confirms that a significant part of these legally-established HCV areas has already been developed into palm oil plantations, according to the minister.

“It is very concerning as to why these legally-established HCV areas have been converted into palm oil plantations. This is obviously not in compliance with the company’s environmental permit,” Minister Nurbaya told (Aug 1) at her office. 

The following photos depict undeniable evidence that the legally-established HCV areas in the PT SPS-2 concession have been turned into palm oil plantations.

The Environment and Forestry Minister pointed out that there are still around 5,000 hectares of peat forests lying within the PT SPS-2 concession that must be prioritized to become legally-established HCV areas, especially given that these areas encompass the last remaining habitat for orangutans in the Tripa peat swamps. 

“Meanwhile, peatlands that are non-forested but have yet to be opened up for palm oil plantations have to be maintained as most of these lie within the peat protection zone,” she explained.

The photos below portray examples of the roughly 5,000 hectares of peat forests in the PT SPS-2 palm oil concession which play host to the area’s orangutans. 


Peat recovery lagging

Minister Nurbaya also disclosed that PT SPS-2 has yet to a submit peat recovery document to her ministry for approval to serve as the basis for its operations.

As such, she added, current peat recovery indicators in the concession fall below the legal standard, as discovered during a field investigation by her team. As a result, the concession, in which peat fires frequently occur, is becoming ever more susceptible to such fires.

“The situation in the concession is being further aggravated, according to ground-based evidence, by the fact that PT SPS-2 does not have the facilities and infrastructure to control peat fires,” Minister Nurbaya lamented.