Friday, 19 March 2010

IOI denies not going green in Indonesia

IOI denies not going green in Indonesia _

Christine Chan
Mar 18, 10

The IOI Corporation has denied allegations in by a European NGO that it is not following sustainable palm practices in its plantations in Indonesia.

The report, commissioned by the Friends of Europe Netherlands (Milieudefensie), was released earlier this month.

It questions IOI's prominence in the area of sustainable palm plantations - the company is a founding member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and several of its estates are certified.

However, a check with RSPO revealed that their plantations in Indonesia are not certified and therefore do not carry the sustainability tag.

When contacted, the IOI, one of Malaysia's biggest conglomerates, responded that many of statements made by Milieudefensie are untrue and the conclusions misleading.

Unilateral investigation Corporate communication manager Karen Liew said that the report took the form of a unilateral investigation in which IOI was not given the opportunity to rebut its findings.

"The excuse given, that there being a 'deadline' for publication of the report which contains such serious allegations against us, is totally unacceptable and contradicts the principles of transparency and fairness which they claim to uphold," she added.

IOI will be contacting Milieudefensie to correct the errors in the report.

Karen also reiterated IOI's public commitment to obtain RSPO certification for all its Malaysian oil palm plantations by mid-2012, and will seek certification of its Indonesian plantations after they have been fully planted in about four years.

The companies involved are PT Ketapang Sawit Lestari, PT Sukses Karya Sawit (SKS), PT Berkat Nabati Sejahtera (BNS), PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera and PT Kalimantan Prima Agro Mandiri in the Ketapang district, West Kalimantan.

It was reported that the infringements are:

• Plantation development without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - The report claimed that up to 2010, the Indonesian companies have yet to receive any EIA from the local authority but their research and satellite images showed that IOI have already started land clearing and planting of oil palms. Villagers interviewed claimed that land clearing started in 2008.

• Unauthorised plantation development in permanent forest - It was discovered that clearing activities were found in forestland although none of the IOI subsidiaries had obtained the approval of the Forestry Ministry.

• Encroachment on peat land - A soil map for Kalimantan produced under the Regional Physical Planning Project for Transmigration shows that there are peat lands in all of IOI concessions in Ketapang. Therefore, IOI is said to have breached their corporate social responsibility commitment not to encroach on peat land.

• Fires on IOI concessions - Fire hotspots data for 2007, 2008 and 2009 shows that prior to the land clearing activities of PT SKS and PT BNS, there were no hotspots in the concessions areas. But in 2009, several concentrations of fire hotspots occurred in the newly cleared areas.
• Land Conflicts in the making - The report claimed that villagers in the PT SKS and PT BNS areas have only been informed twice of IOI oil palm development in their area. It also states that there were signboards by which the villagers stake their claim on the land. This does not comply with the RSPO concept of free, prior and informed consent where land acquisition has to be transparent.

Meanwhile, RSPO Communications officer Sarala Aikanathan said that they are aware of the report.

"All allegations made have been presented to the RSPO executive board. The board has grievance process set up to pave the way for an investigation," she said while declining to elaborate further.