Sime Darby required to end any further HCS forest clearing

(foresthints.news) - Multinational conglomerate Sime Darby, which operates in Sumatra’s Belitung island, has been linked to the clearing of high carbon stock (HCS) forests over the past two years in developing rubber plantations on the island.

In purchasing almost all the shares of PT ISLM the Malaysian-based company acquired a 2012 forestry concession permit covering 10,000 hectares for rubber plantation development in the regency of East Belitung.

A spatial analysis performed by foresthints.news in 2015-2016 using Google Earth images clearly demonstrated that Sime Darby was clearing HCS forests for the development of rubber plantations in this major Sumatran island.

To verify this spatial analysis, foresthints.news conducted on-the-ground observations in Belitung in early May this year, documenting that part of the forest cover in the Sime Darby concession - which still contains swathes of HCS forests - remains in good condition.

It is crucial for the HCS forests found in the Sime Darby rubber concession - as seen in the following two photos - to be maintained in their present form and not cleared by the company to make way for rubber plantations.

The release of the “Sime Darby Responsible Agriculture Charter” in September last year should have indicated that the operations of the world’s largest producer of certified sustainable palm oil would no longer be linked to any further clearing of HCS forests.

However, given that parts of the Sime Darby concession consist of HCS forests, the company is faced with a key challenge in ensuring that any further rubber plantation development in this concession does not entail any more deforestation of HCS forests, as has taken place over the previous two years.

It is considered completely undignified for a giant corporation like Sime Darby to continue being involved in HCS forest clearing practices as part of its rubber plantation development on Belitung island.

The two photos below show some of the HCS forests in the concession, including rubber plantations which are being established by the Sime Darby company.

Cleaning up of supply chains imperative

If the rubber plantation development currently being conducted by Sime Darby still involves the clearing of HCS forests, this actually means that the Malaysian palm oil giant remains linked to deforestation practices - in violation of the company’s own charter.

In fact, the Sime Darby Responsible Agriculture Charter promised a robust assessment of HCS forests, and this clearly needs to be carried out by Sime Darby before any new planting of its rubber plantations in Belitung can be commenced.

It is also essential that this HCS forest assessment is carried out before almost all of the HCS forests in the Sime Darby rubber concession have already been cleared.

Furthermore, all the other palm oil companies that have committed to cleaning up their supply chains from deforestation must be prepared to cut their ties and break off their trading relationships with Sime Darby if the Malaysian-based diversified multinational continues to engage in the deforestation of HCS forests in its Belitung rubber concession.