Notorious Palm Oil Producer Issues New Commitment to Stop Deforestation in Leuser Ecosystem

GPS Coordinate N 4°34’32.59″ E 97°37’8.65″

An Indonesian palm oil company operating in and around the Leuser Ecosystem has released a much-needed commitment to protect rainforests and ensure its operations comply with global market requirements to halt deforestation for palm oil. The company, PT. Agra Bumi Niaga (PT ABN) is notorious for previously destroying lowland rainforests in a crucial habitat corridor used by critically endangered Sumatran elephants, and was recently exposed again by RAN for the construction of a new mill located in close proximity to the forested boundary of the Leuser Ecosystem.

A baby elephant roams free in the lowland rainforest corridor where the palm oil company has committed to protect forests. Credit: Nanang Sujana

The market response and public exposure of PT ABN’s history of forest destruction scandals, amplified by the call for action by thousands of RAN’s supporters, was successful in pressuring the company to change its stance and adopt this commitment. Continued scrutiny and oversight will be needed to make sure these promises are kept and these critical forests remain intact. Please stay tuned in case further action is needed.

PT. ABN’s new mill poses a major threat to the lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem. Credit: RAN

ABN has issued a letter to its previous clients, including Wilmar — the world’s largest palm oil processor — confirming its commitment to No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation practices, and the protection of over 660 hectares of forests. The company has also erected signs declaring conservation areas within its plantation concession area in Aceh Timur, the epicentre of deforestation for palm oil in the north-east Leuser Ecosystem and of human-wildlife conflicts that have resulted in the loss of livelihoods for communities and loss of lives for the last herd of 200 elephants that call this lowland rainforest corridor home.

A sign has been erected on the boundary of the newly declared conservation areas within PT. ABN’s palm oil concession. 

With its long track record as a bad actor in the region, it’s imperative that major brands and traders exposed for sourcing from PT. ABN, such as Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, Nestlé, Mondelēz and Mars, engage with PT. ABN and ensure it follows through on the implementation of its commitment to protect these forests, and establish systems to ensure that its new mill only sources traceable and deforestation-free palm oil produced outside of the Leuser Ecosystem.

2020 is a critical year in the historic effort to protect the world-class Leuser Ecosystem from deforestation for palm oil expansion. This commitment by PT. ABN follows a similar commitment from Mopoli Raya. The fate of the lowlands of the north-east Leuser Ecosystem now depends on the rapid implementation of commitments made by Mopoli Raya and PT. ABN and other rogue actors, including the Indonesian Government’s own palm oil company PT. Perkebunan Nusantara I (PTPN) and PT. Indo Alam, PT. Nia Yulided, PT. Putra Kurnia, PT. Tualang Raya and PT. Tegas Nusantara. It is crucial that all of these companies follow through on halting deforestation and adopting and implementing commitments to No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation for palm oil.