December 7, 2018

RSPO investigating member clearing HCS forests

( - A member of the RSPO, Indonesian-listed company PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJT), is going ahead unabated with the clearing of high carbon stock (HCS) forests to expand its palm oil plantations in the province of West Papua.

Not only is ANJT wiping out good forest cover despite the recent moratorium on palm oil expansion signed by President Joko Widodo (Sep 19), but it is doing this even after the announcement by the RSPO of its new standard which purports to completely prohibit HCS deforestation (Nov 15).   

Asked for her opinion by on the ANJT case (Nov 6), Tiur Rumondang, Indonesia Country Director of the RSPO, confirmed in writing (Nov 7) that the organization has been looking into the issue.

“The RSPO Secretariat's Investigation and Monitoring Unit was informed of the alleged forest clearance by PT ANJT in September 2018 and has been investigating the matter. As this process is currently ongoing, we are not able to say more at this time,” Rumondang wrote.

Prior to this, Chain Reaction Research had classified ANJT as the first company to violate the new RSPO standard. Greenomics Indonesia also highlighted the fact that the clearing of HCS forests in ANJT’s concessions was still underway (Nov 16-17) after the new RSPO standard was announced.

New evidence confirms that ANJT is still carrying out its business-as-usual practices by continuing to develop new palm oil plantations among West Papua’s HCS forests, as shown in the following Planet Explorer images provided by Greenomics (Dec 5). 

report by Greenomics from July 2014, as reported by Mongabay, revealed that ANJT had allocated USD12 million to develop new palm oil plantations in intact forest landscapes spread across West Papua, a practice that continues until today. 

As a member of the RSPO with regard to its Papua operations, the company’s website states that: “ANJT complies with the RSPO’s principles and criteria, including the New Planting Procedure for its palm oil plantation operations.”

“We start our business activities by conducting an environmental impact assessment, which includes assessments on High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas,” ANJT also declares on its website

However, ANJT’s behavior contradicts these claims as it persists with the eradication of West Papua’s HCS forests, in blatant disregard of the new RSPO standard announced in mid-November.

Making matters even worse, this member of both the RSPO as well as the PONGO Alliance was also proceeded with the draining of a peat ecosystem even after President Joko Widodo banned such practices in early December 2016, as earlier reported by (Oct 24).  

Global palm oil buyers, such as NestléCargill and Mars, have previously told that they intend to immediately remove ANJT’s palm oil from their existing supply chains, although this has yet to be fully achieved.