Investigation underway into forest loss for palm oil in Leuser Ecosystem

The Indonesian government’s palm oil company PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) I has responded to recent revelations published by Rainforest Action Network that lowland rainforests have been cleared within its plantation, PTPN I Blang Tualang, with a statement of commitment to being a guardian of the forests of the Leuser Ecosystem.

The news of an investigation by Aceh Provincial Forestry Service Agency is also welcomed given the urgent need for interventions to identify and address all cases of ongoing deforestation in the Leuser Ecosystem, despite government instructions to halt forest clearance for new palm oil plantations and “No Deforestation” commitments of major Snack Food companies.

Aerial image of critically important lowland rainforests inside and adjacent to PTPN I Blang Tualang’s palm oil concession in need of protection. October 2018.
Aerial image of critically important lowland rainforests inside and adjacent to PTPN I Blang Tualang’s palm oil concession in need of protection. October 2018.

Planet satellite imagery during the period of December 2017 to June 2019 shows the location and timing of forest clearance and the development of a new road into forests areas. This documentation of ongoing forest destruction demonstrates the need for an increase in efforts to ensure the government’s moratorium against forest clearance for palm oil expansion is complied with across all lands managed by PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) I. The areas cleared in the most recent incidents are small in area, but critically important, as they indicate the urgent need to improve forest monitoring and enforcement systems used by palm oil companies, government agencies, and major brands alike in efforts to break the link between palm oil production and the deforestation-driven biodiversity crisis.

Time is running out for the last lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem. Luckily, in the extensive forests of the Leuser Ecosystem there is still the chance to save a special place of extraordinary local and global importance. The choice between a future of continued loss or one of permanent protection of these forests is being made right now. It is our hope that all palm oil companies operating within the Leuser Ecosystem join efforts to keep its forests standing and to improve the practices of the palm oil industry across the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.

April 2019 - A critical area of lowland rainforests remains between cleared forests and a new road developed in the concession of PTPN I Blang Tualang.
April 2019 – A critical area of lowland rainforests remains between cleared forests and a new road developed in the concession of PTPN I Blang Tualang.
December 2018 - new roading re-commences
December 2018 – new roading re-commences
November 2018 - new road development is still on hold
November 2018 – new road development is still on hold
 August 2018 - new road development is on hold
August 2018 – new road development is on hold
June 2018 - new roading has begun
June 2018 – new roading has begun
March 2018 - new forest clearance visible
March 2018 – new forest clearance visible
December 2017 - forest clearance visible
December 2017 – forest clearance visible