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Large palm oil producer announces strong forest conservation policy

First palm oil producer operating primarily at grower level announces strong forest conservation policy.

2015-07-02

Previous companies that have formally adopted strong “No Deforestation” policies have also had major global trading operations with substantial direct exposure to international markets.

– Today’s announcement shows that forest protection is working its way down the supply chain in the palm oil industry, and having a real impact on the ground,” said Glenn Hurowitz, who worked with a coalition of environmental groups in discussions with First Resources’ CEO and senior leadership.

– First Resources’ leadership deserves real credit for moving rapidly in response to concerns raised by civil society. While the real work of implementation begins now, the company’s decisive actions in recent weeks show that this is a company that’s ready to compete in the race to deliver the deforestation-free vegetable oil that consumers and investors around the world prize. Their commitment to sustainability shows that the company has the capacity to grow.

Orangutan and tiger habitat

First Resources’ policy applies to both its own operations, its third-party suppliers, and subsidiaries. The company manages more than 190,000 hectares of palm oil plantations, making it one of Indonesia’s biggest producers.

It also has tens of thousands of hectares of undeveloped land bank on forests and peat, including substantial orangutan and tiger habitat, that will now undergo assessments to set aside any High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value lands for protection, and to ensure local communities’ rights are protected.

The company announced that it would use the consensus High Carbon Stock Approach methodology supported by major environmental groups and companies.

Moratorium on deforestation

– We’re hopeful that First Resources will use this policy to drive forest and peat conservation across Indonesia, including by subsidiaries and third party suppliers, said Vemund Olsen of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

– The next step will be for them to work with a credible implementation partner, and to restore forest and peat that has previously been lost.

In recent months, First Resources has moved quickly to address issues raised through their engagement with civil society; in recent weeks, they announced a moratorium on deforestation and peatland clearance on the concession of a subsidiary in Riau, Sumatra after media and civil society urged them to act.

Call to action

– It’s particularly important that First Resources stay engaged to solve serious issues, like forest and peat clearance in tiger habitat by their subsidiary in Riau, hazardous pesticide use and methane emissions, said the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Miriam Swaffer, who worked with community groups to identify deforestation and peat clearance in First Resources’ supply chain.

Over the last year, millions of people around the world have called on major palm oil consumers and investors to take action, contributing to today’s action.

First Resources’ new policy is available here.