The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry has declared that the RSPO should assess its effectiveness as the sustainable palm oil certifying body, given that more than half of the palm oil concessions sealed by the authorities this year due to haze-causing fires burning within them are RSPO members.
It would be far more appropriate for the RSPO to conduct such a self-assessment rather than questioning the effectiveness of the Indonesian palm plantation moratorium, as reported by Mongabay (Nov 4).
These points were among those made by the Ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General “Roy” Rasio Ridho Sani during a discussion at the ministry building (Nov 5) about updates on progress and the number of sealed concessions linked to land and forest fires.
He pointed out that of the 83 concessions sealed by the ministry’s law enforcement team by the end of October (as of Oct 27), 61 of them – or nearly 75% of the total – were palm oil concessions.
“Of the 61 palm oil concessions sealed due to haze-causing fires, almost 60% are RSPO members. This is a substantial number,” the director general explained.
“Updates on the number of concessions sealed will definitely change in line with investigation process on the ground,” he added.
The photos below show examples of this year’s fires devouring palm oil concessions belonging to RSPO members, which were subsequently sealed by the ministry’s law enforcement team.
Links to haze-causing fires
Director General Roy emphasized that the sealed palm oil concessions belonging to RSPO members, including concessions linked to their supply chains in which fires occurred, made a clear and significant contribution to both local and transboundary haze.
“The haze-causing fires in 2015 and this year both predominantly involved concessions held by RSPO members. This important lesson learned needs to be underlined for the RSPO,” he stressed.
In Roy’s view, the RSPO should ask itself why its members, including those associated with their supply chains, continue to be among the key players linked to haze-causing fires.
“We visited numerous burned concessions, many of which are owned by RSPO members. The fact is they were neglectful in protecting their concessions from haze-causing fires, regardless of the arguments they made. We duly sealed these concessions as part of our law enforcement actions,” he asserted.
“Where was the RSPO when we sealed palm oil concessions registered as members of it,” Roy asked.
In addition to the 61 palm oil concessions sealed by the ministry’s law enforcement team, another 14 pulpwood concessions, 4 logging and 3 sugarcane concessions were sealed. An ecosystem restoration concession controlled by the WWF was also sealed.
Wrapping up the discussion, Director General Roy emphasized that when it comes to deforestation and peatland drainage practices, both before and during the implementation of the palm expansion moratorium, many reports have emerged revealing the significant level of involvement of RSPO members and their supply chains.