Papua’s HCS forests remain a source of palm oil expansion

(foresthints.news) - High carbon stock (HCS) forests are still being cleared for the expansion of palm oil plantations in Papua. It has been discovered that a palm oil company, PT APM, continues to clear HCS forests in the province’s Merauke regency.

Referring to a Supreme Court ruling at the end of March 2014, PT APM is under the control of the AMS Ganda Group. The palm oil company obtained a palm oil development permit from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) at the end of February last year.

The permit was issued before President Joko Widodo announced a moratorium on palm oil plantation and mining expansion in mid-April last year.

Based on the land cover data written in the permit decree, almost all of the concession, which covers more than 12,000 soccer fields, is composed of HCS forests, in particular secondary forests.

A spatial analysis conducted by Greenomics Indonesia using Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 satellite images from January to August 2017 indicates that PT APM has been continuously clearing the HCS forests situated within its palm oil concession.

From the above images, it is apparent that HCS forests in one of the blocks of PT APM's concession were cleared from early January to early May this year.

Subsequent to this, the expansion of the palm oil plantation through the clearing of HCS forests proceeded until the end of August 2017. This epitomizes the increasingly unrestrained conversion of Papua's HCS forests for palm oil plantation expansion.

Linked to Wilmar’s supply chains?

Unless the AMS Ganda Group has adopted the Genting Plantations approach of selling the palm oil permit of its subsidiary to another party, then the clearing of Papua's HCS forests by PT APM is clearly linked to Wilmar's supply chains.

AMS Ganda Group is one of the most important suppliers of CPO to Wilmar according to the list of supplying mills openly published by the world’s largest palm oil trader.

The clearing of Papua’s HCS forests by the AMS Ganda Group company shows that the level of traceability of Wilmar’s supply chains remains a fundamental question that deserves to be addressed.

Ironically, Wilmar’s 2016 Sustainability Report - released in mid-August this year - claims that a number of key deliverables in the cleaning up of its supply chains from deforestation have been achieved.

Most confusing is the ongoing high level of discrepancy between 2016’s Wilmar sustainability report and the actual facts, which demonstrate that Wilmar’s supply chains were still linked to the deforestation of HCS forests as of late August this year.

This is a sign that Wilmar's NDPE is still associated with irresponsible sourcing in the cleaning up of its supply chains, seeing that the company's system is still unable to detect suppliers that remain linked to deforestation and peat destruction.