Thursday, 19 February 2009

Indonesian must be more critical of the RSPO (Palm oil)


Indonesia must be more critical of the RSPO

For immediate release

Jakarta, 19 February 2009 -- The Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) rejected the statement of Indonesian Minister of Agriculture Anton Apriantono, as reported in the media between February 17 and 19, 2009 accusing that the palm oil industry is always wrongly related to negative issues, such as damage to the environment, loss of biodiversity, land degradation, deforestation, and one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions. COP believe that facts on the ground fully support adverse impacts of the palm oil industry.

Six years since its establishment the RSPO have never contributed significantly to the preservation of forests. Forests with high biodiversity are still converted to palm oil plantations by its members. COP Habitat Campaigner Novi Hardianto said: "RSPO certificate given to its member is only used as a cover. In fact, sustainable palm oil does not exist. The only sustainable thing is the clearing of forests".

Companies who receive RSPO certificate violate their own principle number 7.3, stating that new planting should not be done in the area with primary forest or has one or more high conservation value.

Ironically, this violation is also done by IOI Company one of the board member of RSPO.

In November 2007, COP with Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS Nyaru Menteng and Conservation and Natural Resources Body (BKSDA) saved orangutans in the concession area of IOI Group Plantation in Antang Kalang, Central Kalimantan. On the site where these orangutans were released in August 2008, COP no longer can find the apes because their habitat has been changed to palm oil plantation.

Other companies that recieved the RSPO certificate, Agro Group, also committed violations. This company rakes the forest at Sentuai Hill, Kuala Kuayan, Central Kalimantan. In fact, in this region COP found orangutans and other types protected wildlife.

"If the RSPO is serious about producing sustainable palm oil, of course they will let NGOs act as supervisors and board members in the organisation will give warning to violating members. And not even recommend sustainable certificates," said Hardianto.

COP calls for the government to be more sensitive to environmental problems developing in recent times. Economic benefits from the palm oil trade is at the expense of the life of orangutans and other wildlife. "COP is not against the palm oil industry. However, if palm oil companies' activities destroy orangutan's habitat and ecosystems, we need to sternly respond," he added.