Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dirty tricks of former timber crook’s palm oil firm threatens prime orangutan habitat

An area of Indonesian rainforest three times the size of Manhattan and home to endangered species such as orangutans and clouded leopards is under threat from a palm oil company run by one of the country’s most notorious former illegal logging kingpins. 

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan Kalimantan Tengah (JPIK Kalteng) have lodged a formal complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) against PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (PT SSS) and its subsidiary PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari (PT SML). 

PT SSS was founded by Abdul Rasyid, whose track record of forest crimes in Central Kalimantan stretches back to the late 1990s; in 2000, he was named by the Indonesian Government as one of the top 18 illegal logging bosses in the country. 

In a December 2013 warning to potential investors in a US$90 million initial public offering for PT SSS, EIA revealed an independent evaluation of the firm’s prospectus showed illegal clearance of forest areas and direct threats to orangutan habitat posed by planned expansion of the firm’s oil palm plantations. 

The RSPO complaint addresses failings in the New Planting Procedure of PT SSS subsidiary PT SML which will lead to violations of the RSPO Standard. PT SML claims rights to an oil palm concession located in Kabupaten Lamandau, Central Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. 

EIA Forest Campaigner Tomasz Johnson said: “This is unfortunately yet another case of a palm oil company riding roughshod over regulations and the rights of indigenous people in the area concerned and resorting to a variety of dirty tricks to do it.” 

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