Last Tuesday, Greenpeace launched a new report titled “Frying the Forest,” that stated India’s market for palm oil is the largest driving force of deforestation in Indonesia. Ruchi Soya, Adani-Wilmar, ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Parle are a few of the Indian companies buying from Duta Palma, one of Indonesia’s biggest palm oil companies. Greenpeace has singled out Duta Palma for allegedly destroying peatlands and rainforests in Borneo. Read how Frying the Forest calls upon Indian companies to establish a zero deforestation policy for palm oil below!
For more information on the current threats in Borneo, please visit: http://borneoproject.org/borneo/overview-of-current-threats.
June 19, 2012
Oil palm plantation adjacent to native rainforest.
Greenpeace opened a new front in its effort to push Indonesia’s palm oil industry to reduce its reliance on forest conversion for oil palm plantations: India, the world’s largest market for palm oil.
On Tuesday, the activist group launched a new report linking major companies in India to deforestation in Indonesia. It said Ruchi Soya, Adani-Wilmar, ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Parle are among the Indian companies buying from Duta Palma, one of Indonesia’s biggest palm oil companies. Greenpeace has singled out Duta Palma, which owns some 155,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in Sumatra and Borneo, for allegedly destroying rainforests and peatlands in Sumatra’s Riau Province.
The report, Frying the Forest [PDF], is based on analysis of satellite imagery and on-the-ground field studies. Duta Palma did not immediately return mongabay.com’s request for comment on the allegations.
Supplying India’s 7.1 million metric tons of palm oil imports in 2011 would have required 1.7-2 million hectares of oil palm plantations.
Greenpeace is targeting Duta Palma as a major supplier of palm oil to the Indian market. In recent years India has emerged as the largest palm oil importer, but according to Greenpeace no Indian companies have committed to ensuring that the palm oil they buy doesn’t contribute to deforestation.
“As global action to deal with forest destruction for palm oil and other commodities begins with the largest buyers, Indian firms are well placed to use their market power to pressure palm oil suppliers into more consistent and stronger action to prevent rainforests and peatlands from being cleared,” said Greenpeace in a press release. “This will help prevent ever more dangerous climate change, which is already having a significant impact on India and the rest of the world.”
Frying the Forest calls upon Indian companies to establish a zero deforestation policy for palm oil. The move would essentially bar Duta Palma as a supplier until the palm oil giant adopts a forest policy like that established by Golden Agri Resources (GAR), Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, last year. GAR’s policy avoids conversion of lands with more than 35 tons of carbon per hectare, roughly the amount of carbon stored in an oil palm estate.
The report is noteworthy in that it calls upon buyers to demand standards higher than those set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an initiative established to reduce the environmental impact of palm oil production. Duta Palma is a RSPO member, yet Greenpeace found it continues to engage in clearing of forests and peatlands. Critics say the RSPO allows participants to certify only some of their holdings or claim membership without actually producing “greener” palm oil.
The oil palm is the world’s most productive oilseed but recent expansion has taken a heavy toll on forests across Southeast Asia. Palm oil production is now the biggest driver of deforestation in parts of Sumatra, Indonesian Borneo, and Malaysian Borneo.
Palm oil is mostly used in cooking oil, processed foods, cosmetics, and cleaning agents. Future palm oil demand may be buoyed by use as a biofuel. But a number of studies have found that palm oil-based biodiesel fails to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional fossil fuels once deforestation is factored into lifecycle analysis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently ruled that palm oil biodiesel shouldn’t qualify as a low carbon fuel.