This week, a palm oil plantation company with supply chain links to US-based agricultural trader Bunge announced its plans to expand development on to 14,000 hectares of carbon-rich peatland in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. As reported in The Malaysia Star, BLD Plantation Bhd plans to develop its 14,000 ha landbank on peat soil over the next two years. This development would have an enormous climate impact, emitting roughly 37 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere – the equivalent of putting about 7 million cars on the road.
BLD is a supplier to the palm oil refinery Kirana, which in turn sells its products to Bunge. In October 2014, Bunge joined other industry leaders by adopting a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy for its palm oil supply chain, which extends to the company’s subsidiaries and third-party suppliers. Thus, BLD’s planned development poses an imminent risk of breaching Bunge's sustainability policy.
Therefore, Forest Heroes has formally filed this case with Bunge as a grievance under its No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy, and have requested the company take the following actions:
- Announcement of immediate moratorium on any development by BLD Plantation Bhd.
- Adoption of strong No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policies and near-term implementation plans and partners by BLD Plantation and Kirana that cover third-party suppliers and subsidiaries.
- Commitment to restore an area of peat and forest at least equivalent to areas previously cleared by BLD Plantation.
- Resolution of community complaints.
The Forest Heroes alliance today welcomed the announcement of an immediate moratorium on forest clearance by Astra Agro Lestari, the large Indonesian palm oil company connected to Mandarin Oriental Hotels. The move comes less than a month after the global launch of the She’s Not a Fan campaign, a play off of Mandarin’s “She’s a Fan” celebrity endorsement drive. An investigation showed the luxury hotel group’s connection to deforestation.
The investigation, with photos and drone video footage of the company’s operations, is available online at www.ShesNotAFan.org.
Astra released a public statement saying that it “has today introduced an immediate moratorium whereby it will stop all land conversion” and “will ensure that there will be no clearance of any natural forest either by the Company or any of its contractors across all its operations in Indonesia.”
“We commend Astra for moving quickly to respond to concerned citizens and investors around the world,” said Vemund Olsen, Senior Policy Adviser with Rainforest Foundation Norway. “The moratorium is a critical first step to protect Indonesia’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. Astra now needs to bring transparency to its work by joining other companies in disclosing its plantation locations and those of its suppliers.”
Elephants to Mandarin: "I'd rather stay at the Ritz."
Today, forest advocates and concerned hotel guests took to the streets from London to New York City to tell the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group to stop driving deforestation and clearing of endangered elephant habitat. Armed with adorable elephant costumes and large banners, activists showed up outside of the luxury hotels to send a clear message that we are not fans of rainforest destruction.
The actions follow just two days after the launch of the "She’s Not a Fan" campaign, a play off of Mandarin’s “She’s a Fan” celebrity ads, and the release of a new investigation showing that the hotel group is closely tied to a company that has cleared vast areas of rainforests, and is helping drive the Sumatran elephant to extinction. The full report with photos and video footage can be viewed at: ShesNotAFan.org.
The activists made their voices heard and passed out flyers to hotel guests detailing Mandarin's connection to deforestation. One manager from the London branch even told the group, "If your main goal was to get your message across, then I can tell you that you've certainly done that." Now it's time for Mandarin's chairman, Ben Keswick, to adopt a comprehensive company policy to protect forests, endangered species, and human rights around the world.
Check out the great photos after the jump from our partners at SumOfUs, who helped organize today's actions.
Forest Heroes announced today that it was downgrading the Singapore-listed palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) in its Green Tiger rankings of environmental and social performance of major producers in response to violations of the company’s Forest Conservation Policy. As a result of serious and needlessly persistent issues, Forest Heroes is recommending to palm oil buyers and investors that GAR can no longer be considered a responsible supplier.
Back in 2010, in response to Greenpeace’s initial campaign, GAR took the first steps towards forest conservation in the palm oil industry – years before any of the other major players. But now, when it comes to conservation, the rest of the industry is passing GAR by.
One of the things that gave GAR’s 2010 efforts credibility was that they became members of The Forest Trust (TFT) and, with Greenpeace, pioneered the development of a methodology for protection of High Carbon Stock landscapes that has become the industry norm.
Unfortunately, over the last 18 months, GAR has undergone considerable backsliding according to a range of public and private reports. TFT today suspended GAR’s membership in response to these violations of its Forest Conservation Policy and Social and Community Engagement Policy. In addition, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on May 8, 2015 took the serious step of banning the company from “acquiring or developing any new areas” after its complaints body investigated a grievance by the Forest People’s Programme related to a subsidiary operating in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). The RSPO called the subsidiary’s HCV assessment “inadequate and potentially misleading.”
Forest advocates and concerned hotel guests around the world today launched a new effort to let Mandarin Oriental know that they aren’t fans of rainforest destruction. The new She’s Not a Fan campaign, a play off of Mandarin’s “She’s a Fan” celebrity endorsement drive, released an investigation showing that the luxury hotel group is closely tied a company that has cleared vast areas of rainforests, and is helping drive the Sumatran elephant to extinction.
“The Mandarin Oriental group includes some of the most sumptuous hotels in the world,” said Deborah Lapidus, Director of the Forest Heroes campaign. “But staying at the Mandarin Oriental sends profits to one of the most environmentally destructive corporations on the planet. Mandarin Oriental’s chairman Ben Keswick needs to stop his company’s destruction of forests and elephant habitat.”
The investigation – including drone footage of very recent deforestation by Mandarin Oriental’s parent company – is online at www.ShesNotAFan.org.
Now in its third season, VICE on HBO has provided powerful investigative reports on some of the most compelling and urgent issues around the world. In its latest episode airing tonight, the VICE team travels to Indonesia to see how the expansion of palm oil plantations and deforestation have impacted wildlife populations, local communities, and our global climate. The report also includes an interview with Forest Heroes chairman Glenn Hurowitz, among others.
Watch a sneak peak of the episode, showing the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program to protect critically endangered populations in Indonesia:
Attention now turns to Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus
In one of the most significant developments yet in the rapid transformation of global agriculture toward responsible production, agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) will adopt a new No Deforestation policy, with a special focus on its soy and palm oil supply chains. ADM’s policy was released today and will be formally announced in May. It is the first of any major agricultural traders to extend an action plan for strong forest conservation beyond the Brazilian Amazon to other parts of South America where forests are also under threat from irresponsible practices related to soy and cattle production, such as Paraguay, Colombia, Bolivia, and the cerrado region of Brazil.
“ADM’s action plan for forest conservation in Latin America makes the company the leader among the big soy traders,” said Forest Heroes chairman Glenn Hurowitz. “ADM has shown that they can boost soy production by focusing expansion on degraded land and yield improvement, instead of sacrificing forests.”
Starbucks needs to meet the new benchmark for responsible production: No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation across all global commodities.
Starbucks knows its customers care about sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Though its stores span across the globe, the Seattle-based company has preserved its core demographic—the affluent, educated, and socially conscientious consumers known as LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health And Sustainability). These customers are willing to pay a higher price for higher standards, and have demanded that the company improve its performance on a number of key goals ranging from fair trade coffee to waste reduction. These values are also reflected in Starbuck’s political leadership on issues ranging from climate change to gay marriage.
Today, at its annual shareholders meeting, investors should call upon Starbucks to take the next big leadership opportunity: being among the first wave of major consumer brands to adopt a global forest conservation and human rights policy that requires suppliers of agricultural commodities like coffee, sugar, and palm oil to agree not to cut down forests, destroy carbon-rich peatlands, or harm workers or local communities.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter Yuriy Humber recently investigated the fascinating inside story of how Wilmar International CEO Kuok Khoon Hong went from "forest foe" to one of the leading drivers of the palm oil industry’s move towards forest and human rights protection over the past year.
Check out a short excerpt below, and be sure to read the full story here!