Greenpeace confronts Golden Agri on deforestation in Indonesia

Updated On: Apr 28, 2010

Three hours before Golden Agri-Resources' AGM, Greenpeace accused it of lying to shareholders about its environmental standards. It claimed that the company was clearing a rainforest beside an orang utan habitat in central Kalimantan. The group also accused Golden Agri of not conducting the mandatory high conservation value (HCV) assessments at approx 15,000ha of land in Kalimantan as well.

This aggressive action by the conservation group elicited an equally strong response from the company, which distributed a statement half an hour before the AGM, declaring that it had suspended a manager responsible for the plantation under question. It also stated that it had commissioned an independent study to investigate the accusations. The director of investor relations, Mr. Victor Fung, also said that the company does not "cut down rainforest but secondary forest and degraded areas."

"We carry out HCV assessments of areas high in biodiversity and don't develop these areas and we avoid peatland. But we cannot claim to be perfect as our plantations cover and area six times the size of Singapore, so it's a huge challenge."

He offered that forest replanting could take place if this study shows Greenpeace reports to be accurate.

This clash is the latest saga in the history of Greenpeace and Golden Agri interactions, which began when Greenpeace first started investigating the Indonesian palm oil industry in 2005. In 2007, satellite images showed that 4000ha of land which had been gazetted as peatland up to 7m deep had been cleared, which was contrary to a declaration by Golden Agri in 2006 that no land clearing or development would take place in these concession areas. In 2008, Greenpeace released a report "Burning up Borneo" which featured deforestation by Sinar Mas, a company associated with Golden Agri. 

2009 saw an independent audit commissioned by Unilever revealed that there were violations on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil principles and criteria, and Greenpeace follows this up with a publication showing evidence of Sinar Mas' illegal forest and peatland clearanc.

Related Article