Illegal Rainforest Destruction for Palm Oil Continues Unchecked by Global Brands in the Leuser Ecosystem

Consumer goods companies fail to address future ‘Forest Footprints’ by preventing active deforestation today 

This is what reckless rainforest destruction for Conflict Palm Oil looks like in the Leuser Ecosystem.

Illegal logging and bulldozing of tropical lowland rainforests continues in the concession of the notorious palm oil plantation company PT. Nia Yulided Bersaudara (PT. NYB). PT. NYB was exposed for illegal logging earlier this year and has been named by RAN as one of the worst forest destroyers in the Leuser Ecosystem after we documented repeated cases of deforestation within its concession. PT. NYB is destroying rainforests to establish a plantation with the expectation that it can sell the oil palm produced to major companies like Unilever,  Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Mondelēz and Colgate Palmolive that source from the region. 

Unilever and Nestlé have put (PT. NYB) on their ‘no-buy’ lists and both companies identified the forests within the concession of PT NYB as forests at risk of deforestation in their “forest footprint” reports. The reports published by Nestlé and Unilever identified millions of acres of rainforests, and hundreds of thousands of acres of peatlands, that remain at risk in Aceh and the Leuser Ecosystem. To date, the efforts taken by Unilever and Nestlé, and other brands like PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Mondelēz and Colgate Palmolive, have failed to halt deforestation in this global biodiversity hotspot and critical area of habitat for Sumatran elephants and orangutans.  

RAN’s investigators have documented the scale of destruction in a field investigation undertaken in September. The footage below shows the dramatic scale of destruction caused by the expansion of palm oil plantations into some of the most important remaining stands of rainforest in the district Aceh Timur. The lush, intact lowlands of the Leuser Ecosystem are truly the last stand in the fight to prevent extinction for many critically endangered wildlife species, including the Sumatran orangutan, tiger, elephant and rhino. There are few other places on the planet where the stakes of conservation are as high as they are in this region today.

Mr Deddy Sartika––the owner of the concessions and son in law of the former acting governor of Aceh, Tarmizi Abdul Karim––has overseen the clearance of nearly 2100 acres of rainforests in violation of the Indonesian governments moratorium on forest conversion for palm oil and the No deforestation policies of major palm oil buyers. Over 90 acres have been cleared since January 2022.


Many brands–– and the 400 member strong manufacturers and retailers industry forum called the Consumer Goods Forum––claim to be taking a new approach to ending deforestation, called a “Forest Positive Approach”. In theory, this approach should be resulting in brands engaging with companies like PT. NYB that are located in high-risk landscapes in their supply sheds to secure commitments to keep the remaining forests within their concessions standing. This case shows that to date there has been a failure of all brands in the Consumer Goods Forum to halt deforestation in the operations of the most problematic future palm oil suppliers in the Leuser Ecosystem. A scaling up of the investments and commitments to action by CGF members sourcing from this globally significant landscape is urgently needed. 

The images and satellite images below show the extent of Leuser’s rainforest that are on the frontlines of deforestation and palm oil expansion in Indonesia. There simply is no more time for delay by brands in addressing the forest footprint of their supply chains and preventing further deforestation in the Leuser Ecosystem. 

Caption: Drone image of rainforest destruction caused by illegal logging and clearing inside PT. Nia Yulided’s palm oil concession in the Leuser Ecosystem. September 2022

Caption: Rainforest destruction caused by illegal logging and clearing inside PT. Nia Yulided Bersaudara (PYB)’s palm oil concession in the Leuser Ecosystem. Sept 2022

Caption: Forest loss within PT. NYB’s concession in July 2022. 3 hectares was cleared in July bringing the total area cleared since January to 220-plus acres.

Caption:Planet satellite imagery showing the new roads, forest clearing and the remaining forests that remain threatened with palm oil development within PT. NYB’s concession.