Greenpeace Expose IOI’s Indonesian Forest Fires

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Greenpeace

Greenpeace International has published an analysis report into the IOI Group. The research shows the scale of fires in and around the IOI Group’s palm oil concessions in Indonesia. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RDPO) met in Milan, Spain, for its European Summit last week.

The RSPO suspended Malaysian palm oil company IOI in March 2016 for peatland clearance in violation of RSPO principles, among other issues. It responded with a lawsuit against the RSPO, of which it is a founding member. However, IOI dropped the lawsuit four days ahead of the RSPO European Summit and is now pushing for its suspension to be lifted.

Greenpeace International’s investigation provides new evidence that the impact of IOI’s deforestation and peatland drainage is far greater than was recognised in the RSPO complaint that led to the company’s suspension.

Greenpeace is calling on IOI to protect and restore the landscapes affected by its palm oil supply areas, and for the RSPO to maintain its suspension until this has happened.

Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, said: “Over the past week, IOI has given up trying to bully its way back into the RSPO. But empty promises and weak commitments won’t stop Indonesia from burning. The RSPO mustn’t consider readmitting IOI until the company can prove it is cleaning up the mess it’s made.”

Greenpeace International’s report includes data on the level of destruction in the peatland area dominated by IOI’s concessions in Ketapang district, West Kalimantan. Last year, terrible fires destroyed forest, peatland and orangutan habitat. The new analysis shows that 30% of the 214,000ha peat landscape in this part of Ketapang burnt in 2015, contributing to the regional haze crisis.

IOI is the biggest landowner in this landscape, holding 30% of the total area under concessions, and in recent years has constructed much of the drainage canal network evident on satellite imagery. Such drainage renders otherwise fire-resistant peat swamps flammable – causing degradation, subsidence and increased fire risk in neighbouring peatland forests and concessions.

IOI’s deforestation and peatland drainage also contributed to a series of fires in its PT BSS concession. In 2014 half of the concession burned, with many of the same areas burning again in 2015.

Annisa Rahmawati added: “In 2015 the government ordered companies to block drainage canals and restore burnt areas. Yet our investigators recently documented free-flowing drainage and planting of oil palm on recently burnt areas. The fire season is getting closer and closer. When will IOI take this threat seriously?

“Since IOI’s suspension, a score of major customers have ended their contracts with the company. However we still see little evidence of IOI taking responsibility for the damage it has done across its operations. Remaining customers such as Cargill need to suspend purchasing from IOI until the company has addressed its legacy of forest and peat destruction.”

The new Greenpeace International report is available here: www.greenpeace.org/BurningIssue