Five Major Palm Oil Companies Announce Moratorium on Deforestation, But Big Questions Remain

Five of the world’s largest palm oil companies announced that they would suspend clearance of High Carbon Stock forests during a year-long study. IOI Loders Croklaan (which has been the target of Forest Heroes’ main campaign), Musim Mas, Sime Darby, KLK, and Asian Agri all announced that they institute a moratorium while they studied the issue.  If the companies really follow through to protect these forests, this announcement could mark the point at which almost all the top palm oil companies rallied behind a common approach to protecting forests.

But this is the palm oil industry – it’s not that simple. Significant questions remain about the companies’ intentions. They didn’t define what they would consider a High Carbon Stock landscape that would be protected, leaving a lot of leeway. No Deforestation companies like Wilmar, Cargill and GAR have all employed an approach to HCS pioneered by The Forest Trust and Greenpeace, and have joined with NGOs like Forest Heroes to create the High Carbon Stock Steering Group to further refine the approach issue.

Furthermore, it’s unclear how any of these companies will actually implement this commitment, and for how long. The companies lack comprehensive “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy like Wilmar, Cargill, GAR, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kellogg, or more than a dozen other major companies. However, Asian Agri announced its own policy, which requires independent verification and other improvements before it can be considered entirely credible.

But there is hope. Forest Heroes and our partner SumOfUs.org are in discussions with IOI Loders Croklaan to develop a strong forest conservation policy and implementation plan.  If IOI and the other companies adopt strong policies, real implementation plans, and join with credible partners, then this just might be the beginning of the end of deforestation in the palm oil industry.

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On September 18, 2014
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